Journey into Madness - Gordon Thomas



I picked this book up after reading through Dave McGowan's recommended book list (, and reading his little blurb:

Dave McGowan said:
Gordon Thomas Journey Into Madness, Bantam, 1989
Yet another hard-to-find book that is essential reading both for information on MK-ULTRA as well as for background information on Dulles, Helms, Colby, Casey, Gottlieb, Buckley, and various other key players in the CIA.
Just shy of 400 pages, it is pretty quick reading.

Pros: told as a sort of re-created non-fiction story based upon the documentation listed in the bibliography, it presents the unfolding horror of medical abuse upon unwitting subjects over 40 years (1945 - 1985). Because Thomas uses this story telling method, the abuse because personal and the reader probably sympathises/empathises with the victims far more than a clinical history would allow.

Reading a blow-by-blow description of unnecesssary lobotomies and electroshock therapies (some patients were shocked in excess of 1,600 times before dying) in search of creating the ultimate MK-Ultra patient, makes it a chilling and cringing read.

Cons: because it is told as a re-created non-fiction story, there are no footnotes to the numerous assertions, quotes and document extracts used throughout the text. There are reconstructions that are probably close to what truly occurred, and others that undoubtedly are far removed from what actually occurred. The bibliography is fairly extensive, but this is not a reference book.

Also, I believe that on many occassions Thomas misses the bigger picture. He also seems somewhat naive throughout the text -- despite the horrors he is recounting, and the occassional hints of other shenanigans going on at the good ol' CIA (drug running, money laundering, prostitution, etc.), he still primarily falls back to the position that the CIA is a respectable & necessary agency of the US. He does not overtly state this, but I felt it was implied throughout.

Despite my criticisms, and even if you feel you are "aware" of what MK-Ultra and other CIA dark projects represent, this is an absorbing read that will provide many details into those projects and that time period.

I have extracted a few other reviews, for comparison purposes:

Journey Into Madness

The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse

The Nazi doctors who used humans in their atrocious experiments were the first to be judged guilty of medical complicity in torture. The custom dates back to Roman times when physicians were legally permitted to be present and take part in torture of those suspected of sorcery.

During the Middle Ages, judges of the Inquisition regularly encouraged the use of priest-doctors to torture suspected heretics. Many of the ancient warlords of China and Japan included in their entourages a physician whose specialty was deciding which torture to use.

With these acknowledgments, the author of Journey Into Madness launches a full detailed investigation of mind control, medical torture, and other frightening exploitations of the human psyche and body by doctors concerned primarily with selfish goals that were placed above all ethics, morals, or human feelings ... goals that were sanctioned and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States!

During the past thirty years, a frightening picture has emerged of the manner in which the power of physicians has been bought and utilized by governments, from Moscow to Washington.

In Journey Into Madness, Gordon Thomas brings to light the dark alliance linking politics, medicine and terrorism. The alliance still flourishes today as our hostages in Beirut await freedom -- and some, such as ex-CIA, operative William Buckley, are brutally murdered.

The book digs deeply into the days of the Cold War when two powerful spymasters, Allen Dulles and William Casey, both in their time directors of the CIA, instigated mind-control experiments to political ends.

Unable to experiment under U.S. laws, Dulles funded a terrifying and dangerous program of medical abuse under the direction of Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron of the Allan Memorial Institute in Canada.

It was there that Dr. Cameron took ordinary citizens, hospitalized for mental illness, and subjected them to incredible experiments in brainwashing and radical surgery.

The methods he developed included "depatterning," the destruction of the victim's personality by repeated shock treatments up to forty times the intensity considered safe. Massive doses of drugs were used, including Lysergic Acid (LSD), to induce long periods of drug-induced sleep, sometimes lasting as long as ninety days, and a mind-control technique called psychic driving. This ultra-secret work destroyed the minds, bodies, and lives of the victims.

The book also traces Dr. Cameron's evil descendants, medical practitioners sworn to heal and do no harm to the present day. Techniques similar to Cameron's are being brought to bear in Beirut, where one of the most powerful men in the city is a doctor who carries a medical bag of horrors as he moves among the captured hostages held by the fanatical terrorists of the Muslim fundamentalist Hizbullah.

COPYRIGHT 1989 Vegetus Publications
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
This 1989 book was written to tell the world about the use of physicians in medical torture of political prisoners. It didn't start in Nazi Germany, and didn't end in Abu Ghraib (drugs, electroshock, gags, garrotes, blindfolds, branding irons, sexual abuse, mock executions). Physicians provide fake medical certificates for persons tortured to death ('Perspectives'). The author had access to written testimony, and off-the-record interviews (which were confirmed from other independent sources).

'Book One' deals with Beirut, the Near East, and the kidnapping of William Buckley, American Political Officer, in 1984. It mentions the survival technique of looking at every approaching face to determine if it is an enemy by the tension displayed on the face (p.59). The Hizballah justified terror as needed to create a new and ideal society (p.61). Brain-washing rarely involved physical cruelty bet depended on the use of repetition, harassment, and humiliation (p.69). [Just like your schooling?] Changing opinions was older that recorded history. America developed the most powerful advertising industry in the world and adapted it to psychological warfare and opinion making. They studied the techniques used by modern American evangelists in conversion, and the Catholic rite of confession (p.73). Pharmaceutical laboratories discovered how drugs can be used in mind control (p.74). How amoral and ignorant was Gov. Reagan (p.81)?

'Book Two' gives the history of the abuse of medical knowledge since WW II. Chapter 5 tells of Allen Dulles and his ruthless and unscrupulous character hidden beneath his cheerful and witty personality. The Korean War provided a new shock from former POWs (pp.94-95). The "twilight zone" is described (p.97). They could not understand the changed views of POWs! Chapter 7 notes how conscientious objectors were put into mental hospitals and used as test animals (pp.140-141)! Chapter 8 tells about electroshock treatments at the Allan Memorial Institute which went beyond the norm (p.149). Were there studies reminiscent of Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz (p.150)? Allen Dulles continued with his drug experiments and poisonous mushrooms (pp.156-157). It tells of the poisoning death of Dr. Frank Olson (pp.160-162). [To shut him up?] Chapter 10 has a 'Top Secret' recording of Korean War POWs (pp.184-186); did you understand it? Was it caused by learning a new view of society? Chapter 11 tellis of the use of sensory deprivation experiments to cause irreversible damage to a patient's mind. Chapter 12 gives an example of post-event predictions (p.216). Chapter 13 tells how Dr. Mary Morrow was able to escape from the tortures of Dr. Ewen Cameron (pp.230-231). Chapter 14 gives the results of hypnotism to create a sleeper killer (p.253). Chapter 15 explains why the Vietcong succeeded (p.257). Truthful reports had bad consequences (p.258).Who controlled Oswald (p.260)? Could the CIA handle the truth (p.261)? NO (p.263)! Could psychics read minds from a distance (p.273)? Or devil worship (p.275)?

'Book Three' covers the events after Watergate. Chapter 17 tells about briefing President-elect Reagan. Claire Sterling's "The Terror Network" is evaluated (p.321). Could Agca have been brainwashed to make him an assassin (p.326)? Chapter 19 tells how the CIA created the cruelest police in the Arab world (p.328). All the bugs planted in Sadat's presidential palace did not warn of the assassination. Examples of medical torture are on pages 334-335. Torture by physicians goes back to the Roman Empire (p.346), to the English in Kenya (p.348); it wasn't just the Nazis. Science is always at the service of the rulers. "Hooding prisoners" was used in 1865 for the Lincoln assassination conspirators (p.356). The 'Notes' provides background information on this book.

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