When Janine Huard checked into McGill University’s Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Canada in 1957 for post-partum depression she was not expecting to be kidnapped, tortured and brainwashed as part of a secret CIA mind-control program. Janine’s personality and memory were destroyed by massive electrical shocks to the brain, drugging and horrific treatments with no possible therapeutic value.
The monster who carried out the sadistic treatments was Donald Ewen Cameron, the Director of Royal Victoria Hospital’s Allan Memorial Institute. His contract for the CIA was to develop a method of erasing a person’s personality through what he called “de-patterning” and constructing a new one that would be subservient to the CIA. Data suggest that he had been conducting mind control experiments for the US government since the 30s.
Janin Huard was not an isolated case, Cameron’s experiments were carried out on hundreds of patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and post-partum depression. Almost all of them left the hospital with permanent disabilities. Some of them left in caskets.
Cameron subjected unwitting subjects to LSD and other dangerous drugs, as well as electroconvulsive therapy at 30 to 40 times the normal power. He put some of his victims into drug-induced coma for months on end while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements such as “You killed your mother.”
The effects of Cameron’s therapy was devastating yet he continued to use the same procedures, fully aware of the outcome.
Ewen Cameron was unwilling to listen to his victims but many of them have been eager to tell their stories to anyone who would listen:
“I was — had to be toilet trained. I was a vegetable. I had no identity, I had no memory; I had never existed in the world before. Like a baby. Just like a baby that has to be toilet trained.” – Linda McDonald
“I was given LSD about every second day and — uh — injected, and — uh — sometimes it was mixed with sodium amethal and other drugs.” – Robert Loguey
“It was an awful feeling to realize, when I found this out, that the man whom I had thought cared about what happened to me didn’t give a damn. I was a fly. Just a fly.” – Velma Orlikow
“He used and abused his power horribly, and I hope he met a very bad ending and suffered, as he made other victims suffer knowingly.” – Gail Kastner
Despite his crimes, or because of them, Cameron became widely celebrated in the field of psychiatry and was made the second President of the World Psychiatric Association, as well as president of the American and Canadian psychiatric associations. He had previously been a member of the Nuremberg medical tribunal, where he accused Germans of the atrocities he committed.
It wasn’t just Cameron that carried out such sadistic treatments, after Cameron died in 1967 Dr. Peter Roper picked up where he left off and continued the atrocities for another two years. Similar efforts at mind control were conducted at universities in the US.
And it wasn’t just the CIA that was behind the program, the Canadian government funded its own programs and kept the program at Allan Memorial going after the CIA stopped funding it.
When the CIA sent a formal apology to the Canadian government for its actions, the Canadian govt. kept the apology secret, hid its own involvement and tried to block the efforts of victims to seek justice. It told victims that they had consented to the treatment when they signed the hospital’s consent form and that they had suffered no permanent harm.
Cameron died of a heart attack before his victims could confront him and seek justice. After decades of protracted legal action, many of the victims have received token settlements. It took Janine 50 years to find any measure of justice.
The guilty parties are the US & Canadian governments, McGill University and the entire field of psychiatry. Janine Hurd’s case illuminates the true nature of institutions long entrusted with the public good and the people who manage them.