MK Ultra, ‘a CIA research project aimed not at the body, but at the mind’.
That is how the now famous ‘The Fifth Estate’ documentary describes the ordeal of Ms Jean Steel, who was compensated for brainwashing by the CIA.
Though she cannot officially speak about it due to a non-disclosure agreement, the existence of the CIA settlement and the amount which was included does exist, as is shown in the most recent public accounts tabled by the government earlier this month.
Her daughter, Allison steel, is now able to speak about it.
During the 1950s, the US government had become obsessed with brainwashing. They saw soldiers coming home from the Korean war who denounced the US way of life and spilled communist propaganda whenever they spoke. Upon hearing this, the CIA became convinced that the communists were well ahead in the race for brainwashing.
Therefore, in 1957, when Ms Jean Steel was admitted to Montreal's Allan Memorial Institute, the CIA took her as a test subject.
The once happy and energetic 33-year-old was diagnosed with manic depression and delusional thinking. A perfect victim for the CIA funded brainwashing experiments, conducted by the now notorious Dr. Ewen Cameron.
Ms Steel was given electroshocks, experimental drugs and tape-recorded messages were played to her non-stop.
When she came back home, her daughter Allison said she was never quite the same again: "She was never able to really function as a healthy human being because of what they did to her. I just wanted to prove that this was done and justice was served for my mother."
"When you wanted to talk with her about something emotional … she just could not do it," Ms Steel said. "Her emotions were stripped. It took away her soul. One time I came home and the ceiling was spray-painted with red swirls all over it. She would take wallpaper and cut out little sections of it and she would pin it to the whole room."
All this happened because Dr Cameron was convinced that the communist result of brainwashing could be obtained by a combination of (1) chemically induced sleep for weeks at a time, (2) a large portion of electroshock treatments, and, (3) finally, experimental hallucinogenic drugs like LSD.
This treatment, which brings to mind the brainwashing passages shown in Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was done in combination with a never ending stream of repeated playing of taped messages.
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If you will, the CIA wanted to break down her mind and then rebuild it the way they saw fit.
Ms Steel’s daughter is happy with the out-of-court settlement, which at least gives her some measure of justice, though she realizes she will never get her mother back in full: "I feel that it's important to bring out the story, to tell others that this is what happened."