This is the chilling story of mind-control, the CIA and an eminent Scottish born psychiatrist whose career was mysteriously cut short leaving a trail of shattered lives. Denise Mina investigates the secretive psychiatric research carried out at Montreal's Allan Memorial Institute and reveals the experiences of the patients who became victims of horrific brainwashing experiments.
Dr Ewen Cameron was a giant of international medicine and the first president of the World Psychiatric Association. But he was also driven by his ambition to make a scientific discovery and receive international acclaim for his work - perhaps even the Nobel Prize. He thought the mind could be deprogrammed by wiping the brain "clean" and reprogramming new behaviour: he kept the patients in a chemical induced sleep for weeks and months at a time; exposed them to large doses of electric shock, sensory deprivation, a concoction of drugs including LSD, and forced them to listen to tape-recorded messages while they slept. During a climate of fear generated by the Cold War, his research was secretly and substantially funded by the CIA and the Canadian government.
Gina was recruited into the programme when she was just sixteen years old. Abandoned by her mother and made a ward of the state, she was diagnosed with depression and sent to the Allan Memorial, a gothic 19th-century mansion; she calls the "House of Horrors". She was one of hundreds of unsuspecting patients who never gave their informed consent to be used as guinea pigs and given treatment from which many never recovered.