Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles “It strips you of your soul.” That's how one person described what happened in the dreaded Sleep Room. Just imagine. It's the 1950s. It's Canada, not the USA, but the CIA's dark storm of mind experiments has managed to cross over the border. It's all top secret of course, just another black site where mad scientists will commit unspeakable horrors on innocent people. People entered the Sleep Room thinking they were going to be cured, believing that doctors were the good guys. Hadn't those doctors all sworn on the Hippocratic Oath? “I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free.” That didn't happen in the Sleep Room; quite the opposite. You went in and they slowly rearranged your mind. They took a barely cracked vase, smashed it to pieces, and rebuilt it, adding some of their own terrible features. Welcome to Frankenstein's monster… the mind version. Ok, prepare to hear something that sounds like the script of a horror movie. Let's start with the story of one woman, who's tale has been told by her granddaughter. In 1956, the grandmother, named Velma Orlikow, arrived at a Canadian psychiatric hospital in Montreal called the Allan Memorial Institute. She was there to get help. She'd just had a child and was suffering from serious depression, what's called Postpartum depression or postnatal depression. She was irritable, couldn't sleep. Sometimes she'd just break down crying. That sounds bad, but it affects around 15 percent of new mothers. It is difficult of course, but it can be treated…at least by doctors with good intentions. That's not what Mrs. Orlikow experienced, not by a long way. She was about to be used as a lab rat by a man who was at one point not only the president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association but also the American Psychiatric Association and World Psychiatric Association. His name was Donald Cameron. His eminence in the circles of psychiatry was never in doubt, but he was also a highly-educated thug who would destroy the lives of hundreds of people, all backed by the CIA. In that winter of '56 young Orlikow tramped through the thick snow to arrive at the foreboding castle-like structure that was the psychiatric hospital. What she didn't know is that over the border in the US politicians and military men had been going out of their minds themselves. What they'd been trying to figure out is why US POWs came back to the states saying they now embraced communism. How did good ole American soldiers turn commie, they wondered. They didn't for a minute think it was the influence of Karl Marx. It was brainwashing, they thought. We should get into that ourselves. And that's what they did. They started their brainwashing programs in the Spring of 1953. The CIA had heard about this doctor named Cameron who worked up in Montreal. He was the guy that was working on changing people's behavior with his own methods. The agency asked the doctor how could you completely change a person? Could you erase their past and create a new present? “Get to work,” they said, and here's a ton of money. And so he did get to work, on Orlikow and hundreds of other people. This is how Orlikow's days usually went during her three months under the supervision of Dr. Cameron. On some days, and throughout the day, she would receive high-voltage electroshock therapy. The voltage, you should understand, was much higher than had been used before in other hospitals. That in itself would be bad enough, and it isn't how you treat postnatal depression. It's how you rub out a soul. On other occasions, the doctor tried something else on Orlikow. He'd give her such a massive dose of drugs that she'd fall into a drug-induced coma. Thanks to a certain poison, the cocktail paralyzed her body. When she'd wake up she wouldn't really know what was happening, or who she was. We are not talking about sleeping for 15 hours, we are talking about periods of sleep that could last over a month or even a few months. Can you imagine that? It gets worse. Something very strange happened to them while they were sleeping. We'll come back to that soon. When she awoke, there were more shocks, more confusion. But the worst thing, the thing that really messed her up, is that she was sometimes given huge doses of the hallucinogenic drug, Lysergic acid diethylamide, aka LSD, aka acid. How do you think those merry pranksters and their friends got hold of it later in the 60s? Well, one of them had been part of the experiments himself in the US. The CIA unwittingly helped create the hippie movement, but that's a story for another day. If you know something about LSD you'll know even a small dose can change your life. A bad trip can really mess with your mind. Now imagine taking what a US comedian once called a “heroic dose?” Imagine sleeping for a month, being shocked, and then being given enough LSD to make an elephant see diamonds falling from the sky. According to research that happened when the CIA's mind experiments came to light many years later, those shocks and long-sleeps and mega-doses of drugs would reduce some adults in that hospital to the state of a young child. They'd just whimper in corners. Phlegm would dribble down their chin. They lost the ability to speak, to perform even the most basic of tasks. They were erased, but controlling them was another matter. Dr. Cameron tried. Sometimes under the influence of LSD, he'd strap them to a chair, a la the dystopian novel, “A Clockwork Orange.” He'd then play them messages on repeat for days on end. This was to reprogram their minds. Endlessly they'd listen to all the positive things about their new personality, and then the recording would switch to all the negative things. This is what the granddaughter said about that after doing her research: “He couldn't get his patients to listen to them enough so he put speakers in football helmets and locked them on their heads. They were going crazy banging their heads into walls, so he then figured he could put them in a drug-induced coma and play the tapes as long as he needed.” Documents revealed that her grandmother had received mega-doses of LSD on 14 different occasions. Every time she'd turn away, pleading with the nurses to not give her another dose. When she did that, the nurses would shout at her, telling her she was an evil mother, a bad person, that she was refusing the very stuff that would make her a better person. After the doses, she often screamed, telling the nurses that her skin was melting off her bones. That's what you call a bad trip. Ok, so after three months of that, how do you think you'd feel? How do you think the woman coped with life after her stint with Doc Cameron? The answer is, she didn't cope very well. Once she was back on the outside she was never herself again. She couldn't handle many kinds of situations, especially when in public. The smallest thing could set her off screaming. She might be in a shop and drop her purse and then just grab her head and begin to wail and shout. As her granddaughter said, she would just explode into fits of hysteria. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother since her parents were often busy working, so she saw firsthand the damage that had been done. She said just reading one solitary newspaper would take her grandmother in the region of three weeks. Writing to a friend might take her months. It was as if she'd been slowed down, parts of her brain just wiped. Years later, the daughter went after the CIA. She wanted revenge. She wanted at least the agency to admit its wrongdoings. She wasn't alone. There were hundreds of lives destroyed. Another Canadian said her mother went to that hospital because she'd heard that the doctor named Cameron could almost perform miracles. Well, it turned out that his miracles included keeping that woman in a drug-induced sleep on two occasions, once for 18 days and the second time for 29 days. When she woke up, she was also subjected to a series of painful and powerful electric shocks. She was given those massive doses of LSD and a cocktail of other drugs. She also came out of there so messed up her life was incredibly difficult. This is what the daughter later said: “They say it was torture for human beings, human torture. What they attempt to do is erase your emotions.” Her mother never joked and laughed again as she'd done before. She never discussed deep subjects. She couldn't ever be lighthearted, just enjoy her days, because life was plagued with panic attacks, with constant anxiety. That part of the brain that is responsible for fight or flight was terribly active all the time. Her life was ruined. Why did Cameron do this? Well, you already know that the CIA was conducting mind control experiments in the US with a program called, “Project MKUltra.” Some books have even alluded to the fact that Charles Manson was a victim of this very secretive mind-control program. The Unabomber, serial killer Ted Kaczynski, was almost certainly part of the project, and even if it wasn't connected to MKUltra, he definitely underwent 200 hours of a study called by its creators, a “purposely brutalizing psychological experiment.” Such were the times, and then the CIA heard about Cameron and a treatment the doctor had come up with. It was called, “psychic driving.” This mostly involved playing messages on loops to frazzled minds. It was a form of mental reprogramming. To understand why he pioneered this, you have to know something about his philosophy. You see, he'd grown up seeing two world wars. He understood very well the darkness in man that had been discussed by people such as Sigmund Freud. He understood Carl Jung's conviction about how a person could easily descend into the underworld. Cameron said the reason why so many bad things happen in society is that weak minds could be easily influenced. He divided society simply into the “weak” and the “strong”. Yep, it was that simple for him. It sounds like eugenics, eh, and a lot like the opinions of a man named Adolf Hitler. Cameron believed there were good citizens, super-citizens, and the rest needed treatment. He said the weak needed to be taken out of society because if not, there will always be chaos. He called this weakness a social contagion that needed to be wiped out. These people might just be shy, anxious, possessive, insecure, have a need to conform, or indeed be clinically mentally ill. They had to be changed. But how to achieve this? He believed that behavioral scientists could transform the so-called weak. They could reprogram people, only if the personality-changing doctors were part of all elements of society. These behavioral scientists, he said, should be part of schools, businesses, in government, everywhere. Cameron once said: “Get it understood how dangerous these damaged, sick personalities are to ourselves – and above all, to our children, whose traits are taking form, and we shall find ways to put an end to them.” That is what the CIA heard, and so the agency wanted him on board. They sponsored his research and they wanted results, although Cameron wasn't aware he was being paid by the CIA. As is often the case, the CIA created a front organization, and it was that which paid for Cameron's experiments. It's why he could afford to treat a woman with postnatal depression with sleep, shocks, LSD and messages inside football helmets. It's why he used the poison curare to basically paralyze his patients while he played them messages for weeks on end. His record was keeping someone under for three months. He thought he was curing the sick, but he was only making them demented. He was destroying them, like all mad scientists in the movies tend to do. No one who went into the sleep room ever really fully came out of there. He believed his “de-patterning” and “psychic driving” techniques was re-making a human, but he was only taking a wrecking ball to minds that just needed some care and attention. You've heard the stories of two people, but there were hundreds of them, most of them going to the hospital with only minor problems. After the experiments, some of them had permanent amnesia. Others became incontinent, meaning they'd pee themselves on occasions. Some didn't even recognize their parents, brothers, sisters. Most had post-traumatic stress disorder, and a few folks even lost the ability to speak for a while. Was Cameron serious in his belief that his experiments would help people? Maybe, maybe not. Critics have said that in actual fact he was developing torture techniques to extract information from people, techniques that the CIA would use for many years to come. MKUltra almost remained a secret. In the mid-70s the CIA director demanded that every single file that even minutely discussed MKUltra had to be destroyed, and that included anything related to Dr. Cameron. It didn't happen. 20,000 related files surfaced, prompting some people to ask if they were doing that then, what are they doing now? Some of Cameron's notes have since come to light. This is what he wrote about one of his patients: “Once the patient is de-patterned we will start psychic driving. She is rather restive and antagonistic when awake, but not nearly as difficult as she was when she started.” This is from another document. The woman had been under for 16 days: “She is sleeping well. She is disoriented to time and is in her second stage of de-patterning. There is no incontinence, there is no mutism, and we are continuing this intense treatment of her until we get complete de-patterning.” When the patient became completely mute, and was incontinent, she was considered fully de-patterned. This was considered what you might call creating a blank state of the mind. It was then the doctor could begin playing those endless loops of messages. Cameron also wrote about drugs he would administer. They included: LSD, PCP, amphetamines, barbiturates, antipsychotics, insulin, and more. He also wrote about his favorite paralyzing poison, curare. Victims have since said this ability to transform people made him feel “God-like”. For the three years working for the CIA, he also received a heavenly pay packet, almost $600,000 dollars in today's cash.