Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Memory Thief: The Story of Dr Ewen Cameron

It's as much a story of his former patients coming to grips with their tortured past under Cameron's "care" as it is of Cameron himself. One of the patients featured in the videos below (Gail Kastner) was also interviewed by Naomi Klein for her recent book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Cameron not only gave his patients excessively high doses of electric shock (way beyond what would normally be considered an appropriate course of ECT treatment), but also a cocktail of drugs including LSD and apparently PCP, insulin to induce comas sometimes lasting for weeks or months, and something called "psychic driving" which amounted to playing audio tapes while his patients were in their respective comas. All of this was supposed to completely erase whatever psychological baggage these patients had and rebuild them into presumably healthy individuals - except it didn't turn out that way. In addition to the permanent memory loss, many of his patients ended up unable to function independently once he was done with them. Then of course there is the issue of lack of informed consent, as these folks were guinea pigs in CIA and Canadian government funded experimental research which would lead to the torture techniques currently used as standard operating procedure at any US-run military prison (e.g., Guantánamo Bay, Bagram, Abu Ghraib).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Each segment lasts no longer than 10 minutes. Viewing quality is a bit dodgy, but the sound is just fine.

On a related note, see Psychology's Tortured History: "Modern Torture's Scientific Bible", and Psychology's Little Ethics Problem.

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