Home News Montreal mind control experiments are heartbreaking, but wearing hazmat suits is no...

Montreal mind control experiments are heartbreaking, but wearing hazmat suits is no hindrance


When Julie Tanny was a little girl, every weekend was an adventure for her.

Her father, Charles, made sure of that by surprising his three children with trips to an amusement park. His warmth was evident when he rubbed their cold feet to warm them up after skating at a backyard rink in Montreal.

Everything changed in the winter of 1957. A dental filling went wrong, leading to an excruciating neurological illness that stumped five doctors. They referred him to the Allen Memorial Institute, the psychiatric hospital at McGill University in Montreal, where he was treated for three months.

After Ms. Tenney’s father was released from the hospital and returned home, he became distant, angry, confused and violent toward her. He had no memory of running a snowblower business. He barely recognized his family.

It was like his brain had been reprogrammed.

Ms. Tenney later learned that this was indeed the case. Her father had unwittingly become a patient of Dr. Donald Evan Cameron, a psychiatrist who was secretly conducting mind-control experiments allegedly funded by the CIA as part of a Cold War-era program called MK-ULTRA.

“He’s the same person now,” said Mr. Tenney, a retired jewelry wholesaler. “He’s a completely different person.”

Ms. Tanny, 70, is Class Action In 2019, she filed a lawsuit against institutions associated with the experiment, as well as the Canadian and U.S. governments. She said about 400 people have joined the action, mostly family members of former patients who were treated at the clinic between 1948 and 1964.

But their lawsuit recently suffered a setback when a Quebec judge granted a U.S. request to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that foreign countries are not subject to Canadian courts. The province’s Court of Appeal upheld the ruling.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal, meaning the case against the United States was dismissed, but the lawsuit against the Canadian government, McGill University Health Centre and its affiliated Royal Victoria Hospital will continue.

Dr. Cameron’s experiments allegedly included intensive electroshock therapy, drug-induced comas, sensory deprivation and powerful drug therapies that altered nerve function. These methods resulted in the erasure of thoughts and altered behavior patterns, leaving patients like children. Some had to relearn how to use the toilet after losing the ability to control their bladder.

Some patients were allegedly forced to listen to up to 500,000 loops of tapes containing phrases designed to rewire their brains: “You’re selfish,” “My mum hates me” or “You’re cute.”

The patient’s family believes that these treatments are a form of psychological torture for the patient and that the patient did not consent to them.

Class action attorney Jeff Orenstein said the consequences of Dr. Cameron’s experiments destroyed the lives of many families and caused mental trauma to patients.

“They look like robots, just like robots,” he said.

As the extent of the Montreal Experiment came to light, the U.S. and Canadian governments compensated some victims, but their families were not, the lawsuit said. Ms. Tanney’s father was awarded $100,000, an amount she said did not reflect the true toll of his mental and physical impairments.

He had two heart attacks, which Ms. Tanney attributed to electroshock therapy, and a debilitating stroke. He required round-the-clock care, and Ms. Tanney’s brother gave up his young legal career to take over their father’s business.

“I’ve paid for these experiments my whole life,” she told me at her home in Montreal.

The report said neither the government, the hospital nor McGill University had formally apologized for their involvement.

The case has Widely reported in Canadabut Ms. Tenney said most of the victims’ families were still reluctant to talk publicly about it. Others detailed their harrowing stories of abuse, being bounced between foster homes after their parents died in the experiments, and struggling to find answers.

In 2017, Ms. Tanny decided to file a lawsuit after reading about the case of another brainwashed patient’s daughter. Reaching a settlement With the government.

Ms. Tanney’s father died in 1993. He suffered a stroke at age 60 and was unable to write, talk or walk for the remaining 18 years of his life, she said.

For her, one of the most poignant parts of the Montreal Experiment’s legacy is the thought of how much was lost: a happy family life, a career, relationships.

“We’re not really living up to our full potential, either caring for a sick parent or bearing the effects of traumatic changes in our family,” she said. “Imagine having a father who doesn’t know who you are.”

Vjosa Isai is a reporter and researcher for The New York Times based in Toronto.

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