Thomas A. Ban: The Ewen Cameron Story

Barry Blackwell´s review of Steven Kinzer´s Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control. New York: Henry Holt & Co; 2019


Hector Warnes’ comment


        I am afraid to tackle Steven Kinzer’s overwhelming and one-sided critique of Ewen Cameron; it seems that he does not distinguish between who are volunteers for research on sensory isolation or LSD, from who are patients. As far as I recall the patients admitted for depatterning and sleep treatment were referred because of the severity and refractoriness of their psychiatric disorders. I saw a documentary where they portrayed Cameron as using LSD in his depatterning "treatment."

        Unless we review Cameron's numerous publications, including books which gave an account of the theoretical basis of his work, and unless we read two publications by R.A. Cleghorn (1984, 1990), the assistant Director of the Allan Memorial Institute during Cameron's leadership, we cannot know the whole truth. By the way R.A. Cleghorn was not a psychiatrist nor a psychoanalyst, he was a physician endocrinologist and yet he succeeded Cameron as Director of the Allan Memorial Institute. Cleghorn was an outstanding researcher who gathered an excellent team known worldwide.

        The Zeitgeist of those time had different ethical barriers for treatment or research rather than those that were introduced at the end of the decade of the 1960s - ‘70s.



Cleghorn RA. The emergence of psychiatry at McGill University. Can. J. Psychiatry. 1984; 29(7): 551-6. 

Cleghorn RA. The McGill Experience of Robert A. Cleghorn, MD: Recollections of D. Ewen Cameron. University of Toronto Press , 1990; 7(1):53-76.


July 30, 2020