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Psychiatric Torture and Mind Control

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“And a huge part of what psychiatry has done really comes down to torture” — Lee Coleman, psychiatrist

Talk to the victims of psychiatry and they'll tell you they weren't “treated”, they were tortured. The History of Shock Treatment, a book produced by psychiatric survivors, says:

  • “First off, we will call things by their real names: treatment forced upon another against his will is torture. It's not drug treatment, it's drug torture; it's not shock treatment, it's shock torture; it's not psychosurgery, it's psycho torture. Barbarism in the name of benevolence is still barbarism.”

Another psychiatric survivor group, the International Association Against Psychiatric Assault, contains the following in its statutes:

  • “We declare as forms of torture all psychiatric persecution, psychiatric incarceration and psychiatrically forced bodily acts and intrusions, such as treatment with drugs, electroshock, psychosurgery, four point restraint and others. These have been consistently defined as torture by persons from all around the world and through the whole existence of coercive psychiatry….”

California psychiatrist and author of A Reign of Error, wrote:

  • “…mental patients become vulnerable to whatever manipulations psychiatrists decide to call treatment. Many of these so-called treatments have been crude experiments and sometimes they were no less than torture.” Lee Coleman, M.D., psychiatrist, The Reign Of Error

“Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” contains evidence of all these tortures, including actual electroshock machines that include one donated by a German psychiatric institution; ice-picks used by psychiatrists used to destroy the lives of tens of thousands of individuals around the world and recently purchased restraint belts and jackets—like those still used in psychiatric institutions today and responsible for hundreds of deaths each year.

Tracing Psychiatry's Mind Control Experiments

It also documents the history of psychiatry's mind control experiments conducted for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other government agencies during the 1950s through to the 1970s. It contains documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act showing psychiatry's role in torturing and brain-washing unwitting American and foreign citizens, including attempts to turn individuals into assassins.

One renowned author on this subject is Gordon Thomas, a recipient of CCHR's Lifetime Achievement Award and a former BBC and veteran foreign affairs correspondent. His best selling book, Secret History of CIA Torture and Germ Warfare Experiments, is being turned into a film and is aimed at worldwide theater release in 2008. Other books include, Journey into Madness: Medical Torture and The Mind Controllers and The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control. His work also includes the five-time nominated Academy Award winner "Voyage Of The Damned," "Enola Gay," winner of the Best Foreign Film Emmy and “A Bit Of An Experience,” winner of the Monte Carlo Film Festival Critics and Jury's prizes.

Featured in CCHR's Museum: Psychiatry: An Industry of Death is British psychiatrist, William Sargant. Thomas exposes Sargant's mind control experiments in several books and his new film. Here's an excerpt from one of Thomas' articles:

“On a bleak winter's February day, Anne Margaret White, mother of three small children, was admitted to one of the world's great teaching hospitals, St. Thomas's, in London. She was thirty-one years old…. Three months later, Anne emerged from the hospital physically and mentally so changed her father thought she was ‘a zombie’. The transformation had been achieved by a psychiatrist as respected as the hospital in which he worked.

“His name was William Walter Sargant—Will to his friends—who had long been regarded as a ground-breaking physician. His clarion call could be heard through the hospital corridors. ‘An ounce of phenobarbitone, or some rather more modern tranquilizer, may be worth more than a hundred-weight of persuasive talk.’

“But unknown to her, or the hospital, when Anne White became his patient, Sargant was at the forefront of ultra-secret mind-control experiments. He was the British end of the most sinister program ever approved by the United States government: MK-ULTRA—designed to control all human behavior.

“…At military bases in Britain, including one at Maresfield, near the south coast resort of Brighton, he conducted drug-related experiments on so-called ‘military volunteers.’ Other drug experiments were performed at Britain's most secret bio-chemical warfare establishment at Porton Down on Salisbury Plain. Again ‘volunteers’ from military mental hospitals and from military prisons were used.”


1942: Winfred Overholser was the chief psychiatrist for the U.S. Army Medical Corps and held the position of superintendent of St. Elizabeth's hospital, a government-run institution in Washington, D.C. He developed truth serums and mind-control experiments for the Psychological Warfare Branch of the Military Intelligence Services.

1949: Project BLUEBIRD involved psychiatrists reviewing drug-related work at U.S. psychiatric institutions. One project at Bethesda Naval Hospital sought to isolate drugs for use in “effecting psychological entry and control of the individual,” and lasted until 1972.

1950: In September, the Miami News published an article, “Brain Washing Tactics,” in which the first formal use of the word "brainwashing" appeared. The term had been invented by CIA psychiatrists to explain why American prisoners of war in Korea had publicly denounced America.

1951: Psychiatrists advised the government that by lowering the setting on an electroshock machine a patient would experience excruciating pain, making it an effective method of coercion. A CIA document stated that electroshock had the effect of making a man talk and a person could be reduced to the vegetable level.

1952: A CIA memo cited a successful application of narcotic-hypnotic interrogation on Russian agents. Concealing the experiment as psychiatric care, the Russians were admitted to a hospital as part of the ruse. Posthypnotic suggestions succeeded in giving the subjects amnesia of the interrogation to which they were subjected.

1953: OPERATION ARTICHOKE evolved into Project MKULTRA. It attempted to create unwitting assassins using drugs and hypnosis. MKDELTA covered policy and procedure for use of biochemicals. Through the front organization, the Josiah Macy Foundation, international CIA conferences on LSD were headed by psychiatrist Frank Fremont-Smith.

1953-55: After testing 139 different drugs, including amnesia potions, the most promising drugs were given to unwitting subjects in normal social situations in a Federal Bureau of Drug Abuse Control experiment. Dr. Frank Olsen, a CIA biochemist, jumped to his death while under the influence of LSD, slipped into a drink without his knowledge.

1955: Harold Wolff taught psychiatry in Cornell University's Medical College when he was conducting brainwashing studies for the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles. He “asked the Agency to give him access to everything in its files on threats, coercion, imprisonment, isolation, deprivation, humiliation, torture, ‘brainwashing,’ ‘black psychiatry,’ hypnosis, and combinations of these with or without chemical agents.” Beyond mere study, Wolff volunteered the unwitting use of Cornell patients for brainwashing experiments, so long as no one got hurt. He added, however, that he would advise the CIA on experiments that harmed their subjects if they were performed elsewhere, according to The Search for the Manchurian Candidate.

1970s: The Congressional Select Committee to Study Government Operations in 1976 concluded: “The research and development program, and particularly the covert testings, resulted in massive abridgements of the rights of American citizens, sometimes with tragic consequences” and “demonstrate a fundamental disregard for the value of human life.”

To find out more about psychiatry's torturous brainwashing and mind control experiments that continued even after this congressional hearing, visit the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum.