Madness, Pt. 1: The Sleep Room
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It is a stormy day in Montreal and we are in Erie Place. Known as the Allan Memorial Institute I did reach out to the Allen Memorial for an interview. He did not want to talk. So we're not here to talk just to look. The Allen is really where the story. We're going to tell you today all started. I mean the weather certainly isn't helping right now but it does. It does look like a like a prison. Emory and I are making our way down a mountainside towards this group of buildings perched on the eastern slope of Mount Royal Park in ancient volcanic mountain gave the city of Montreal. Its name you can see. Why March royal is this big bump of green that rises up out of the middle of the city. It's pretty on a less gloomy day. So is the Allen. Sort of originally. This was a mansion. It consists of two old stone buildings that make up fifty three thousand square feet the mansion itself and a horse stable. The stable at one time had its own special. Name the sleeper sleeper where they're also right cupid show over the mansion's main entrance hangs the stone bust of a snarling dog in a large stone face staring blankly out over the city below. Its Lips just slightly parted the shipping magnate. Who had this compound built in the eighteen sixties? Hugh Allen called this place Raven's Crag it's very separate from Montreal. It's very removed. Yeah like if you were making a horror film about psychiatric facility. This is like central casting building wise. This place is a psychiatric hospital. The mansion was eventually given to McGill University. And that's how it became the Allan Memorial Institute and while it might seem like a good movie location. What happened at the Allan decades ago is real and really disturbing? This is where people were kept for weeks months years sometimes induced and experimented on. There's so much history here and it's history that at least the victims really would like people to know the story of this place and what happened here. Light Deprivation Shock Treatment Hallucinogenic Drugs and she lost her soul. Cameron didn't seem to have the slightest hesitation about destroying the lives of his subjects. He was willing to try the most extreme techniques people have a hard time listening and grasping the reality of this. It shatters their belief system during the nineteen fifties and sixties. The alum was run by one powerful. Dr a man who was considered an innovator maybe even a visionary a man who spent his days trying to cure the mentally ill with cutting edge techniques and his nights reading science fiction. His name was Dr you and Cameron in his work. At the Allan Memorial Institute was actually part of a huge secret government funded program that stretched its tentacles around the world. We'll get to all of that but for now. Here's what you should know in the US. This secret government program was run by the CIA. It had a name and emission. Its name was M. K. Ultra MK Ultra is almost too unbelievable to believe and its mission was mind control. What is less well-known is the key role that the Allan Memorial Institute and its director played in this weird dark chapter in Western history. Today we are going to tell you about what happened at the Allen who it happened to. I'm Ben Brock Johnson emory and. You're listening to endless thread. The show featuring stories found in the best ecosystem of online communities called red were coming to you from. Wbz You are Boston's NPR station. And we are bringing you part one of a special series madness the secret mission for mind control and the people who paid the price back in October of two thousand nineteen the day before Marie and I were walking the grounds of Montreal's Ellen Memorial Institute. We sat down to talk with someone who had been treated there almost sixty years ago. My name is nice. She later and I was a victim of Treatments up the Allen Memorial from five six months Nancy was sent to the Allen in September of nineteen sixty one. She went in at just eighteen years old and by all accounts at the time. Nancy was bright and beautiful and talented. Now there are deep. Dark circles under Nancy's is her. Long hair is completely white. Her skin is like tracing paper. Her speech is slurred and throughout her conversation with us. She repeats things unhealthy. Well I'm healthy. Well Nancy says she's healthy and well now but when she was a teenager she went through a program. Designed by the Director of the Allan Memorial Institute Dr Ewan Cameron at the time. Dr Cameron was supposedly doing something exciting. He was wiping out mental illness and people and rebuilding them. Nancy spent just six months at the Allen. She was pulled out in March of nineteen sixty two and even though members of her family put Nancy into the Allen. They now say that because of what happened. She's never been the same so my name. Is Angela Bartos? I'm Nancy Layton's daughter. I'm here to talk about Things that happened to my mum longtime ago when she was only eighteen at the Allan Memorial nineteen sixty one. Nancy had just recently started her first big job out of school and I worked in actual fence and work for them for a year or two and then I became a a bit. Sick was a little more complicated than that. Nancy was working for Canada's Defense Department. Where there were a lot of men. Some of whom started giving her unwanted attention but would probably qualify today as sexual harassment. Nancy her family and her doctors all seem to agree on this part of the story but his Angela reads from her mother's medical documents. You get the sense that Nancy's doctors thought she might have been seeing some things that weren't really there. She soon found herself in difficulty because she felt that men were looking at her and making passes that are. This was quite possibly true. And she's quite attractive should began however to build up aggressive beliefs that she was being spied upon began to cease significance in minor actions. The way people move their arms. Nancy sister also said that she had started to act strange. That's when Nancy's parents got involved. Murder said we'll talk with Dr Camera. She will doing emitted from the link. Started the whole thing. That started was that Nancy's mother a medical nurse herself had an idea of how to tackle. Nancy's problems she knew of a guy named Dr Cameron. He'd been running the Allen since the forties but by the early sixties he become a giant in the field he brought prestige to McGill. University's new psychiatry department. And these were heady days for the field of psychiatry. Dr Cameron was doing some of the most boundary pushing exciting work in the Western world. People describe Dr Cameron's reputation as Godlike. He was in magazines. He was an innovator a disruptor he was always giving inspiring speeches about the nature of humanity and how to fix some of our greatest mental health. Challenges still is that many of us repressed so much that is almost as though we had a second person within us. Some hardly constantly endangers first by attempting to take their arises and the version of the mental illness an aversion spreading out and covering the whole field of mental health. So this area of medicine. Dr Cameron had a guiding theory that you could eliminate someone's mental illness by wiping their mind clean. He developed a rigorous regimen of inducing prolonged periods of sleep giving his patients electroshocks multiple times a day and giving them intense cocktails of barbiturates loosen agendas and so called truth serums. He would put patients in chemically induced comas for days or months at a time. Use sensory deprivation techniques even play aggressive and insulting messages at them all designed to reduce the mentally ill to a childlike state. Remove them entirely from time and space so that he could rebuild them. He called this technique. D patterning cameron and his colleagues were reportedly eager to have Nancy and other people like her. Come to the Allan. She was a perfect fit for the kinds of experiments. They were doing cameron admitted Nancy in got her started on his cutting edge regimen and the doctor suggested shock troop my he started giving me these treatments and at one correspond arc. Stop in the beginning and her heart stopped. I had a cardiac arrest and they had to bring me out of it. Electroshock therapy or what is now called electroconvulsive. Therapy wasn't all that unusual in the early nineteen sixties. But what was happening at the Allen under Dr Cameron's direction was very unusual. The form of electroshock he was using was twenty to forty times more intense than the standard dose in. His patients could receive them two or three times a day. This was just the beginning of what Nancy went through that we know. There's just one big problem. Nancy what do you remember about being at the Allen? Hardly anything in the beginning because I was in a room I remember waking up in February waking up near the end and Take you back to your room. Now fracking the sleep. Remember the Horse Stables at the Allen. How that building had another name. The sleep room. Nancy went into the Allen in September of nineteen sixty one and yet all that she remembers is waking up in February of nineteen sixty two. Angela spent a long time trying to get more information about her mother's treatment at the Allen. It was a very painful process of just getting the records reading the records. What she got. Eventually it's shocking to read. She had a five days asleep. And Five Ts. She was taken out of the sleep room on October. Thirtieth however she immediately showed signs of relapse by the first week of December. The patient had had eighty seven. Set's then changed from one hundred and fifty milligrams q id to try. Lafon by March twenty third. She had had one hundred twenty nine. Act'S NANCY had been administered. One hundred twenty nine intensive electroconvulsive therapy treatments in six months. And she'd been heavily sedated with a mix of anti psychotics and barbiturates things like pentothal sedative when Angela. Look that one up. She found out it was a drug that for many years was used in higher doses for lethal injection. Do you remember Dr Cameron Himself? What do you remember about him? Being on The stress of the day the line bed and him giving me my Jeff. Kickoff before went into the treatment had the Krugman he he was the one that gave me. Straw my wearing asleep the injection Dr Cameron gave. Nancy was some kind of barbiturate sedative to put her into that deep sleep if he was going to wipe her mind he needed to shut it down. I do you remember anything else about any anything he said to you. She pants can hear Nancy's daughter. Angela they're trying to jog your memory. Angeles says that Nancy's grip on her own. Memory is tenuous at best sometimes. Nancy remembers things in the wrong order. Sometimes she doesn't remember anything. Sometimes things come back in bits and pieces was the rule and was awake in the morning and my wiz coming back for our lives. Then Ben My mother came a food as later metric. And do you remember anything about sort of how your mother reacted to the treatment? You were getting or case that Cam was that helpful was he though. Dr Camera was treating people time. Maybe those treatments just didn't work for everyone. But in the time that Nancy was at the Allan Her parents had done a one eighty on the treatments. She was receiving under the direction of Dr Cameron. They wanted her out. Nancy came out of the Allen. Twenty pounds heavier. Her memory impaired in her independence gone. She's relied on anti psychotic drugs. Basically ever since she left almost six decades ago yes. Nancy was having psychological problems when she went into the Allen but Angela says her mom was never the same after she was treated there. That's echoed in the official diagnosis when she was taken out and in the observations of her family. Six months later to come out with a lot of memory loss experiencing than further delusions and and really schizophrenic behavior and being diagnosed officially as acute schizophrenic from this I really believe that she was turned into a schizophrenic. And then as you're you live a life like that after six months of going through how. How do you regain your your life? How do you even go about? Originally doctors at the Allen had suggested they can help Nancy by the time she was released. Dr Cameron was saying she couldn't be made whole again and in a letter. Dr Cameron wrote to the new doctor. Who WOULD TAKE CARE OF NANCY? After she left the Allen. He describes Nancy's family in terms. That don't feel very empathetic. Her father was drug salesman but now retired. He's sixty eight and has always been dominated by his wife and the mother is driving assertive over talkative woman who tends to misinterpret things in terms of quickly week let's pause on graft like fodder has always been dominated by his wife and over talkative woman who tends to misinterpret things. This sounds a lot like a doctor. Trying to undermine the ability of Nancy's mother a medical nurse to be her advocate in care going forward after she left the Allen. Nancy went into another psychiatric facility where she fell in love with another patient. Angeles father. They had Angela but Nancy continued to be in and out of treatment. She couldn't work. She couldn't take care of her daughter let alone herself. Angela's father and Nancy got divorced when Angela was four. She was raised by her grandparents. She didn't see much of her mom growing up but eventually she had to step in and take care of Nancy. When you first went to see where your mom was living and what her life was like and you made a choice to become more involved in your mom's life how was she living. What did things look like? Yeah it's tough. It was tough to see. It was despicable. There was cockroaches Things have been been washed and many weeks even just pots and pans were not cleaned. Garbage was everywhere. This was when Angela was just beginning her own life as an adult. Angela says she had to become a mother to her own mother. She had to put parts of her life on pause. She had to teach her mom. Had Buy groceries had into her finances and as she's flipping through the documents that it took months for her to get. She is angry especially when she reads. How doctors at the Allen wrote about their communication with Nancy's dad during her treatment he has been reassured that the present plan treatment is the most appropriate for his daughter's case and that it will not induce any permanent injury to her brain or personality and that she is receiving the best possible nursing care. Angeles says this line is crucial. That this is how her mother's family was lied to. According to them the Allens treatment did cause permanent damage. It was not the best possible treatment plan at all for me just to read that it's so disturbing having not only the information the knowledge and everything that has gone through a it's just of how This was done at the time. This is just one thing that happened to one person. Sixty years ago one long lonely story especially for Angela. It's been a wish of mine for many many years just to find not be alone anymore in this process. But here's the thing. Angela and Nancy are not along not even close. That's coming up in a minute. Hello yes we are in the middle of deeply reported series kicking off endless threads new season we are also in the middle of a pandemic which is why we recently threw a party on zoom. So that even if we feel little alone right now we can be together today. Emory make a balloon animal. Yes did listeners. Meet my dad and my cat. Yes did we talk about the series? We are bringing you right now about mind. Control Your Dang Right. We did sell many of you. Wonderful people joined us and it was so much fun. So we're GONNA do it again. On Thursday April Thirtieth at seven PM will answer your questions about our series. Give you a sneak preview of the next episode and for those of you who got booted last time because we were packed out and had to many participants have no fear we can now take up to five hundred people if that's not zoom party. I don't know what is one in go to. Wbz Dot org slash endless thread in click on the post for part one of our madness series. There's also Lincoln our show notes. Hope to see there are story about what happened at the Allen is an old one sixty years old. A lot of the people involved in this story are dead and a lot of their family members didn't even know they were part of the story a few years ago the CBC show the Fifth Estate. Did an episode about Dr Cameron's experiments. It's erasing your memory. I mean how dare they do that to a human being? How dare they do that to human being? It included the story of a woman named Alison Steele. Who received compensation from the Canadian government for the so-called D patterning treatment that her mother had received at the Allen in the fifties for postpartum depression? A lot of people saw this episode and for some the details felt familiar. Word started to spread like the fifth estate. If it wasn't for those programs a lot of the people wouldn't know what's going on. It turns out what happened at the Allen was much bigger than what happened to Alison steals mother and to Nancy. There are lots of other stories just like there's stories of people who went into the Allen for treatment and came out forever damaged a new wave of victims and their family members have started coming forward and getting organized. They call themselves. Sega survivors allied against government abuse. And last year they filed a class action lawsuit. Because what happened at the Allen? Didn't just involve doctor. You and Cameron the Allan Memorial Institute was part of McGill University. In Canada's Royal Victoria Hospital. The extreme treatments being done there were being funded in part by the government. Not just the Canadian government either but also the CIA and now the plaintiffs in that class action lawsuit want all of these institutions to take responsibility last October. Right around the same time. Emory and I will roaming the grounds of the Allen in Montreal. Members of Sago were standing in the rain just a couple of hours away in Ottawa Ontario. On Parliament Hill Canada's capital. Cover that people talk. They took our tests was used again and thing that only have There may be sixty or seventy people. Here crouched under umbrellas and holding up signs that say things like lives destroyed justice for victims memories erased and the megaphone gets passed around wiping out their members the very essence of who they were in the process destroying their lives. Robbing their children of a parent spouse of a partner a parent of a child and altering the lives of countless family members. Some people hold up photos of a family member wrapped in plastic to protect them from the rain from other before she went in with the children. But we all went into foster homes because my mother was so sick from it. She had to keep going back for psychiatric care and she couldn't care for us. We're here to protest the atrocities that were to take place on our family members and I so civically our great uncle. We are degeorge Joel. Who is nine hundred forty? Five hundred forty seven? His life was ruined. His life was taken from him at thirty two and I just feel like he deserves some kind of justice. And we have to do this. Do to make sure that never happens again. This story has to be doled. Some of the people here had family members who didn't even go to the Ellen for serious mental illness and those patients reportedly got the same extreme treatments. My father was in there for hypertension. They just kept treating him but it never worked it. Put them into schizophrenia. Big Time at the end. He just sat in the wheelchair not wheelchair but that just as rocking chair and quit it was like brain dead and nobody's been accountable for it. Kind of is like a ghost. The Ottawa Rally may have only drawn about seventy people but the estimated number of people who could qualify as victims of human experiments. At the memorial institute is in the hundreds and counting people are still coming out of the woodwork. All of these people have a connection to one man. Dr Ewan Cameron but for twenty years. Dr Cameron was a highly respected member of the medical community. He led the World Psychiatric Association. The American Psychiatric Association the Canadian Psychiatric Association people traveled far and wide to be treated by him. He was a titan in the field of psychiatry. Whose methods are now considered a black mark on the institution. He wants ran. How could anybody be so simple minded? As to think you could Wipe Rain. And then reprogram the brain and then everything would be peachy again. A man whose work had mysterious funding sources. A man whose methods may also echo an even more disturbing chapter in history. You and Cameron at. She is at the seat of we know realize endore cycles torture was cameron of visionary or Mad Scientist. Could it be that he was both in our next episode? We look further into the mind and the methods of Doctor. You and Cameron and let's thread is a production of W. B. U. R. Boston's NPR station. In partnership with red. Joss swertz our producer. Irish Adler is our executive producer. Mixing sound design by Paul vicous. Michael Pope is our advisor at read. It editing help from our managing producer. Cat Brewer extra production assistance from James. Lindberg our interns are Frank Hernandez in Kaya Williams also shoutouts to former interns Magdala Mata and Noah Boston who were both instrumental in making this series possible. Noah actually pitched does this story idea of course from read it and it eventually became the special series. Maggie Noah we miss you thanks to Ash Abraham for being our eyes and ears at the SAGA rally in Ottawa. And voices you from that rally. Were Giuliani Judy. Henry Janice Shaw. Marlene Levinson Francesco. Did Giorgio Marian read Shantelle Jacob Siddiqi and you and Graeme MacDonald on read it. We are endless underscore thread if you want to contribute art for an upcoming episode or give us a juicy story tip so we can tell it like we did today hit us up there you can also go to our official sub reddit endless thread dot read it dot com or you can email us anlysts thread at wbz. Dot Org my co host and the senior producer is Ben Brock Johnson my co host and producers Ameri Albertson Thou. Let Myself Out.