View Full Version : Britain's WWII brainwashing

Magda Hassan
11-16-2009, 11:40 PM
Britain's WWII brainwashing

By Mike Thomson
BBC Radio 4

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/46735000/jpg/_46735448_3d560d0f-c37c-49d4-8eb1-db1b5a3ef8e3.jpg Prime minister Harold MacMillan denied the use of such techniques

Brainwashing techniques were used by some British interrogators during World War II, according to evidence unearthed by the BBC.
Their methods included the use of drugs, hypnosis and sensory deprivation to extract confessions from suspected spies.
It was not until 1960, well after end of the war, that the first allegations of brainwashing were made.
These followed a lecture given in London by Alexander Kennedy, a highly-respected professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
His speech was aimed at applying the lessons of wartime interrogation techniques to the peacetime treatment of psychiatric illness. In it he referred to the effects of a string of brainwashing techniques. Outrage followed.
Growing storm
The press of the day concluded that his knowledge of such methods must have come from work developed in Britain. This is a charge strongly denied by Prof Kennedy, who had served with British intelligence during the war.
But his denial failed to calm the growing storm and ministers faced searching questions in the House of Commons.
Finally, the then prime minister, Harold Macmillan, tried to put an end to the brainwashing scandal during prime minister's questions..
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/46735000/jpg/_46735436_macmillan282.jpg One former intelligence officer believes Harold MacMillan was lying

He said: "The techniques to which these questions refer have never been used by any organisation responsible to Her Majesty's government."
Those firm words, and Prof Kennedy's death just three months after making his speech, seemed to put an end to the controversy.
However, the archives reveal that three years later, MP Francis Noel-Baker, who like Prof Kennedy had served with military intelligence, wrote the following letter to Mr Macmillan:
"It is within my own personal knowledge, and that of people with whom I served during the war, that a technique of brainwashing certainly was used by Major Kennedy, as he then was, and other interrogators at the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC), outside Cairo, during the last war."
It is not known how, if at all, the prime minister replied to this letter, but it certainly contradicts his denial that such methods were never used by British interrogators.
So, too, does another document, held in the National Archives. It is a report written by Dick White, a man who was later to become head of M16.
It focuses on interrogation methods that he witnessed being used by British officers in Cairo during the war. Prof Kennedy, then Major Kennedy, was a psychological advisor guiding some of these interrogations.
One was with an Egyptian man called Ellie Haggar, who was suspected of being a German spy. Mr White was to write:
"Among other methods employed by Kennedy, certain drugs were used to induce Haggar to confess. As might have been expected, the only result was that Haggar become mulish and indifferent to his fate and contracted pneumonia.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/start_quote_rb.gif I think if one wants to be brutally honest, MacMillan was seeking to deceive. In fact, to use unparliamentarily language, he was telling lies http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/end_quote_rb.gif

Col John Hughes-Wilson

"The extraction of a confession took a fortnight and was, even then, not fully satisfactorily achieved. With this example before me I suggested to all the officers concerned that this was not the way to interrogate a spy."
It could always be argued that MacMillan might have been unaware of Mr White's report when he made his emphatic denial in the Commons.
But a former senior British intelligence officer, Col John Hughes-Wilson, believes that is unlikely.
He said: "I would be very surprised if a minister of any stamp were to stand up and talk on intelligence matters without whistling for the head of that service and saying, 'what is going on, draft me an answer'.
Ends and means
"I think if one wants to be brutally honest, MacMillan was seeking to deceive. In fact, to use un-Parliamentary language, he was telling lies."
This evidence has come as a shock to many, even including those who served in military intelligence during the war.
One such person is John Oswald, who worked as an interrogator at CSDIC, the British base in Cairo, around the same time as Alexander Kennedy.
But Mr Oswald insists he had no idea that brainwashing techniques were being used there and would have had nothing to do with them if he had.
He said: "Among my colleagues I don't think that any of them would have used those methods. I just feel that it's wrong to treat people that way."
There is no reason to doubt that Prof Kennedy was acting in anything other than what he saw as the best interests of his country, at a time when Britain was at war with an often brutal enemy.
But critics like Mr Oswald insist that the ends should never have been allowed to justify the means when techniques like these were involved.

Kennedy, Prof. Dr. Alexander M. MD, MRCP, MRCS

Psychological Medicine, Edinburgh University
Eugenics Society Member 1947 Council 1952-53 Fellow 1957
Prof. of Psychological Medicine, Edinburgh University 1955- Personal: Rockefeller Traveling Fellowship 1936; Lt. Col., Intelligence, WWII; Senior Physician, Maudsley Hospital; 2 Arboretum Rd.
The New Approach to Juvenile Delinquency. 1948; helped C.P. Blacker q.v. write his article on eugenics and the Nazis, which advanced the view that the Nazi regime was the work of mentally disturbed people. This contrasts with the view of Mrs. Hodson q.v. at the time. (see Slater and Kallmann q.v., Ploetz q.v.)
Source: ER 1947, 1957, WWW

Jan Klimkowski
11-17-2009, 06:25 PM
Magda - good find, thank you for posting.

There are a couple of interesting footsteps in the snow, blizzard-swept tracks, of the secret British "MK-ULTRA" programme in the article above.

Ultimately though, no real attempt is made to pursue them, to follow those traces to their source.

In addition, no mention is made of Prof Major Kennedy's likely military and Maudsley Hospital colleague, Dr William Sargant.

I wrote the following about Sargent here:

Many soldiers whose psyches had been fragmented by the experience of terrible events, and were suffering from what we now term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, effectively became experimental subjects. Whilst many of the shellshock doctors had the best of intentions, others were directly involved in the mind control programmes. For instance, perhaps the most famous of all the British shellshock doctors, William Sargant, collaborated extensively with Ewen Cameron and Sidney Gottlieb of MK-ULTRA notoriety. Sargant even betrayed CIA doctor Frank Olson to Gottlieb when Olson described his horror at witnessing terminal mind control experiments in 1953, probably either in Britain or in former IG Farben buildings in Frankfurt which were by then occupied by the CIA. Olson's son, Eric, has good evidence that his father was subsequently murdered by CIA elements

The top level glimpse into Prof Major Kennedy's CV, and the fact that he spoke about British use of brainwashing techniques, requiring a rebuttal from the Prime Minister no less, suggests that this military shrink was a British version of America's Naval Lt Cmdr Dr Narut, with his confession of constructed assassins.


Jan Klimkowski
11-17-2009, 06:30 PM
Some wiki material about Sargant. It contains some errors of interpretation, in my judgement:

William Walters Sargant (24 April 1907 - 27 August 1988), was a British psychiatrist who is now famous for his work with shell-shocked servicemen during World War Two, and later for his book entitled Battle for the Mind in which he discusses the nature of the process by which our minds are subject to influence by others. Sargant was also heavily involved to the end of his career with the Intelligence Services, including the CIA Project MKULTRA.

Trained at the Maudsley Hospital, South London. Sargant established a unit at Belmont Hospital during World War Two for the treatment of shell-shocked servicemen. There, along with Eliot Slater, he was a pioneer and advocate of physical methods of treatment in psychiatry such as ECT, continuous narcosis, insulin coma therapy and psychosurgery. His enthusiasm for such methods grew partly out of contempt for psychoanalysis, which was hugely popular among British psychiatrists between the wars. As an exponent of biological psychiatry, he regarded psychoanalysis as worse than useless in treating severe mental illness.

Founder and Director of the Department of Psychological Medicine at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where he promoted physical treatments in psychiatry, and had his in-patients referred by consultants from all over the UK at the adjacent Royal Waterloo Hospital. He was also a consultant to the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI5/MI6). In 1953 he associated with Frank Olson, Deputy Acting Head of Special Operations for the CIA, investigating the use of mind-bending drugs at the Biological Warfare Centre at Porton Down.[1]

In 1944 he collaborated with Slater in writing An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, a textbook on biological psychiatry that included lobotomy and shock therapy and remained in print for three decades.

In 1957 William Sargant published one of the first books on the psychology of brainwashing, Battle for the Mind. While this book is often referred to as a work on 'brainwashing', and indeed it is subtitled a Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing, Sargant emphasises that his aim is to elucidate the processes involved rather than advocate uses. In the book he refers particularly to religious phenomena and in particular Christian methodism, emphasising the apparent need for those who would change people's minds to first excite them, as did the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

Sargant connected Pavlov’s findings to the ways people learned and internalized belief systems. Conditioned behavior patterns could be changed by stimulated stresses beyond a dog’s capacity for response, in essence causing a breakdown. This could also be caused by intense signals, longer than normal waiting periods, rotating positive and negative signals and changing a dog’s physical condition, as through illness. Depending on the dog’s initial personality, this could possibly cause a new belief system to be held tenaciously. Sargant also connected Pavlov’s findings to the mechanisms of brain-washing in religion and politics.[2]

William Sargant was a pioneer in methods of placing false memories into patients. He attested at the 1977 U.S. Senate hearing, "that the therapist should deliberately distort the facts of the patient's life-experience to achieve heightened emotional response and abreaction. In the drunken state of narcoanalysis patients are prone to accept the therapist's false constructions."

[edit] Mind Control
[edit] Sargant, Ewen Cameron and MKULTRA
Sargant and Dr Ewen Cameron of Project MKULTRA notoriety, were friends and colleagues who shared and exchanged views and information on brainwashing and de-patterning techniques and their mutual researches in this area. Both men had extensive CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service connections.[3]

The aim of Cameron, Sargant and the CIA’s researches was to find a way to obliterate the memories of an allied spy ('de-patterning') and implant false memories at a deep level so that if that spy was captured in his adoptive country, he would be incapable under duress or even torture of revealing his true American/British allegiance. He would only be able to reveal the falsely implanted memories that supported his assumed persona. This concept became termed 'The Manchurian Candidate' after the novel. The extensive use of 'heroic' doses of ECT combined with Deep Sleep Treatment (narcosis), anti-depressants, tape-loops, insulin coma therapy, and other drugs in this context, was designed to induce catastrophic memory loss which would then supposedly be replaced with false memories and ideas (via tape loops, hypnosis, LSD or conversations while the person was drugged).

The CIA eventually became disillusioned with the research, saying it produced only 'amnesiacs and vegetables', but not until Cameron and Sargant between them had destroyed the health, memories and lives of countless patients.[4]

The author and psychiatrist Harvey Weinstein has established a direct link between Sargant's research on brainwashing and political conversion, and the research aspect of Cameron's work for MKULTRA. Cameron wrote in a paper on 'The Transition Neurosis': 'Sargant has described what little we know of the dynamics of these political and religious conversions and has attempted to duplicate them but from what we gather, with somewhat limited success. He used depleting emetics. We have explored this procedure in one case, using sleeplessness, disinhibiting agents, and hypnosis.'[5] Cameron often sought Sargant's advice and on one occasion Sargant sent Cameron a note saying 'Whatever you manage in this field, I thought of it first.' [6]

In addition to LSD, Cameron also experimented with various paralytic drugs, as well as electroconvulsive therapy at 30 to 40 times the normal power. His "driving" experiments consisted of putting subjects into drug-induced coma for months on end (up to three in one case) while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. His experiments were typically carried out on patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and post-partum depression, many of whom suffered permanently from his actions.

[edit] Sargant's Covert Research at St. Thomas'
In St. Thomas' Hospital Sargant had a 'Sleep Room' modelled on the one Cameron had created at the Allan Memorial Institute for the MKULTRA programme. Here he treated many British citizens – mainly women - over the years, experimenting usually without their consent (see below) using ECT combined with Deep Sleep Treatment (narcosis), drugs, insulin coma therapy and tape loops – the same techniques as Cameron employed in Canada.[7]

Scores of English patients were involved in illegal, unethical and dangerous experiments for which they almost certainly never gave their consent. Sargant was one of the dominant figures in psychiatry in his day, the 1970s. No one would dare to challenge him. Patients were'incarcerated in the 'Sleep Room' and subjected to horrendous experimental treatments for which no consent forms were signed. Patients were kept in a drug-induced sleep. This was part of what Sargant called 'depatterning'. They were only briefly awoken to receive electroshocks. Sargant would wheel into the 'Sleep Room' a portable electroshock machine. The normal procedure would have been to deliver a single 110 volt shock. Sargant used shocks 20 to 40 times more intense, two or three times daily, with the power turned up to 150 volts. Some patients received multiple electro shocks over a period of 65 days. Patients were put to sleep for long periods and received all kinds of drugs. They were in no condition to question him.

In direct parallel with Cameron's techniques, Sargant used tape loops played through a recorder placed under the patient’s pillow to implant false memories or ideas. Leonard Rubenstein, a technician who had created the tape loops for Cameron was flown to England to advise Sargant on how the tape loops were made.[7]

Possibly going even further than Cameron, both at Belmont Hospital in Surrey and St.Thomas' in London, Sargant subjected patients to up to three months' combined ECT, deep sleep treatment, insulin coma therapy and drugs. He said in a talk delivered in Leeds: 'For several years past we have been treating severe resistant depression with long periods of sleep treatment. We can now keep patients asleep or very drowsy for up to 3 months if necessary. During sleep treatment we also give them ECT and anti-depressant drugs'.[8]

Sargant routinely advocated and practised ways of circumventing the whole issue of consent to treatment, in direct violation of the Nuremberg Code. Drawn up after World War II in an attempt to prevent any repetition of the kind of terrible experimentation performed by Nazi doctors on various ethnic groupings, prisoners of war or disabled people they deemed worthless, the Nuremberg Code protects the rights of those subject to medical experiments. The most important point is voluntary consent, without any element of 'force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion'. There should be made known 'the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment.' Every effort should be made to protect the participant against 'even remote possibilities of injury, disability or death,' and '…the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems…impossible.'[9]

Sargent, by contrast, used enforced narcosis (sleep treatment) to obliterate a patient’s ability to refuse ECT. He wrote in his standard textbook An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry: 'Many patients unable to tolerate a long course of ECT, can do so when anxiety is relieved by narcosis ... What is so valuable is that they generally have no memory about the actual length of the treatment or the numbers of ECT used ... After 3 or 4 treatments they may ask for ECT to be discontinued because of an increasing dread of further treatments. Combining sleep with ECT avoids this ...'. Sargant also advocated increasing the frequency of ECT sessions for those he describes as 'resistant, obsessional patients' in order to produce 'therapeutic confusion' and so remove their power of refusal. In addition he states: 'All sorts of treatment can be given while the patient is kept sleeping, including a variety of drugs and ECT [which] together generally induce considerable memory loss for the period under narcosis. As a rule the patient does not know how long he has been asleep, or what treatment, even including ECT, he has been given. Under sleep ... one can now give many kinds of physical treatment, necessary, but often not easily tolerated. We may be seeing here a new exciting beginning in psychiatry and the possibility of a treatment era such as followed the introduction of anaesthesia in surgery'.[10] Sargant's methods inspired Australian doctor Harry Bailey who employed Deep Sleep treatment at Chelmsford Private Hospital, eventually leading to the death of 26 patients. Bailey and Sargant were in close contact and apparently competed to see which of them could keep a patient in the depest coma.[11]

Sargant constantly underplayed in public the very damaging effects of these treatments on his patients' memories. However John Marks found that Cameron himself detailed the stages of memory loss resulting from such 'de-patterning' techniques, saying that 'his typical de-patterning patient – usually a woman – moved through three distinct stages. In the first, the subject lost much of her memory. Yet she still knew where she was, why she was there, and who the people were who treated her. In the second phase, she lost her 'space-time image,' but still wanted to remember. In fact not being able to answer questions like, 'Where am I?' and 'How did I get here?' caused her considerable anxiety. In the third stage, all that anxiety disappeared. Cameron described the state as 'an extremely interesting constriction of the range of recollections which one ordinarily brings in to modify and enrich one’s statements. Hence, what the patient talks about are only his sensationsof the moment and he talks about them almost exclusively in highly concrete terms. His remarks are entirely uninfluenced by previous recollections – nor are they governed in any way by his forward anticipations. He lives in the immediate present. All schizophrenic symptoms have disappeared . There is complete amnesia for all events in his life.'[12]

When Sargant left St.Thomas' Hospital he, like Cameron when he left the Allen Memorial Institute, took with him all the case notes of those who had received this intensive treatment. Again like Cameron, on enquiry the notes were subsequently found to have disappeared after his death.[13]

[edit] BBC Radio Documentary
On 1 April 2009, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme researched and introduced by James Maw entitled Revealing the Mind Bender General dealing with Sargant's activities and concentrating on his Sleep Room treatments at St Thomas's Hospital. Among the interviewees were his one-time registrar Dr David Owen (better known as a leading Labour and SDP politician) and a number of patients from St Thomas's as well as a survivor of the Porton Down experiments, who testified that their lives had been shattered by Sargant's treatments. Among the points that were brought out were the routine violation of patients' rights as regards giving consent for treatment, the fact that Sargant admitted in correspondence with an Australian lawyer that patients had died under his Deep Sleep regime, and that all patient records at St Thomas's and the related health authorities relating to Sargant's activities have been destroyed, making it difficult if not impossible for patients to seek redress through the courts.

[edit] Quotes
"...Jesus Christ might simply have returned to his carpentry following the use of modern [psychiatric] treatments." - William Sargant

"Though men are not dogs, they should humbly try to remember how much they resemble dogs in their brain functions, and not boast themselves as demigods. They are gifted with religious and social apprehensions, and they are gifted with the power of reason; but all these faculties are physiologically entailed to the brain. Therefore the brain should not be abused by having forced upon it any religious or political mystique that stunts the reason, or any form of crude rationalism that stunts the religious sense." (p. 274)[2]

[edit] Books written by William Sargant
Battle for the Mind: The Mechanics of Indoctrination, Brainwashing & Thought Control by William Sargant, Pan Books, 1957
Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing , by William Sargant, Malor Books, 1997, ISBN 1-883536-06-5
Mind Possessed, The : A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism, and Faith Healing, 1975, ISBN 0-14-004034-X
The Unquiet Mind - an autobiography, by William Sargant 1967 Heinemann ISBN 0-434-67150-9
An Introduction to Somatic Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant and Eliot Slater, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1946
An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant and Eliot Slater, Edinburgh : E&S Livingstone, 1944 [1st ed.]
An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant, Eliot Slater and Desmond Kelly, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1972 5th edn ISBN 0-443-00868-X