Brain washing in post-war London

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast an excellent documentary on psychiatrist William Sargant who began experiments in ‘brain washing’ likely at a behest of the British secret services in post-war London.

Sargant was rumoured to have links to the notorious and secret CIA MKULTRA project that attempted to develop ‘brain washing’ or ‘programming’ techniques that were later condemned as unethical when they came to light in the 1970s.

A pioneer in early medical treatments for mental illness, he became famous after writing his book Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry and became notorious after developing techniques to keep patients asleep for weeks on end with barbiturates and electro-convulsive therapy.

After publishing some early work he was apparently contacted by UK spooks and contracted to do secret research on ‘brain washing’ style research.

He later wrote a the widely read Battle for the Mind which discussed the psychology and neuroscience of brain washing.

Interestingly, Lord David Owen, the British ex-Foreign secretary, leader of the SDP party and current member of the House of Lords, was Sargant’s registrar when he worked as a doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Unfortunately, the BBC have recently butchered their Radio 4 website and ruined their archive by putting everything on iPlayer, so you can only listen to the programme for another 5 days and only if you’re based on the UK.

However, the programme seems to have found it’s way to Google Video, so you can listen to a streamed version there.

Link to BBC iPlayer version.
Link to alternative streamed version.

2 thoughts on “Brain washing in post-war London”

  1. “patients asleep for weeks on end with barbiturates and electro-convulsive therapy.”
    40 years later, you still call them patients, not victims…

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