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The Mind Stealers

Psychosurgery and mind control

By Samuel Chavkin, 1978

SAMUEL CHAVKIN was co-founder and for eighteen years editorial Director of the Science and Medicine Publishing Company, which published newspapers in different medical disciplines for the practising, physician. Knowing what was best about American medicine, he was also acutely aware of some dangerous trends. He is a member of the National Association of Science Writers. Brought up in New York and graduate of Brooklyn College, Mr. Chavkin has done postgraduate work at the University of Mexico, the New School for Social Research, and the Asia Institute.

"An important, shocking book that will provoke controversy and outrage."

"A real shocker, Chavkin's The Mind Stealers is a hard-hitting expose of the coming uses of psychosurgery and technological control over our minds."

"All over the nation neurosurgeons are now at work modifying or 'curing' drug addicts, alcoholics, homosexuals, neurotics and other 'deviants." The hundreds of thousands of children diagnosed as hyperactive are drugged into passivity. Juvenile offenders are subjected to imprisonment, and given behavior modifying, drug injections. Adult. prisoners, mostly from lower economic rungs, serve as guinea pigs for 'aversive therapy' programs. Patients in mental hospitals forcibly undergo ultrasound treatment (laundered lobotomy). Finding predictive techniques for weeding out the 'potentially violence-prone' among us is a burgeoning science. Legal protections against psychotechnology are constantly eroded. Big Brother telemetry for the surveillance of every citizen is on the drawing board. Chavkin's prediction that mind control techniques could become standard equipment of government, prisons and police departments is backed by forceful documentation in which he names agencies, and professionals participating in such programs. An important, shocking book that will provoke controversy and outrage."

Publishers Weekly's review.



They are the researchers who are developing new ways to control our minds. They are the social scientists who would use these new discoveries for social and political is one thing when a doctor prescribes drugs or surgery to treat diseases, whether physical or mental. It is another when political dissent or criminal behavior or just an odd life style is conveniently labelled a disease - and then treated by force. This is happening here and now to powerless groups of people - children, mental hospital patients, old people, prisoners. And it happens to political dissenters, even in our own country...We are concerned when foreign psychiatrists lock up political dissenters. Have we looked at the new forms of torture by "aversive treatment" in our own prisons and children's centers? We were shocked because the CIA tried out mind-bending drugs. Do we know our public schools tell some parents to drug their children or remove them from school?

Behind the enforcers stand those scientists who would have us believe that crime and violence are directly related to a physical brain dysfunction or genetic deformity - which they will treat even though they cannot prove there is any physical malfunction or disease to start with.

Agencies of our government have a part in these developments, even the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institutes of Health. The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research was supposed to protect us; instead it has given an ambiguous blessing to experiments on prisoners, mental patients, and children.


A so-called scientific rationale is being spawned to explain some of the critical dilemmas of the day - such as the rising tide of violence - by blarming them on individuals who don't make the grade genetically, or whose uncontrollable behavioral problems are associated with faulty neurological wiring. These people are said to be afflicted with a case of bad genes, or suffering from some brain disorder, or carrying around an extra chromosome, or victims of all three conditions.

The solution to this problem, proponents of this view declare, is to have these individuals submit to a behavior reconditioning program in prisons or other "corrective" institutions. Failing this, such persons would undergo a brain operation: psychosurgery, that would permanently rid them of their aggressiveness and other obsessive, hostile characteristics. Yet there is no actual proof that sick or malfunctioning brain cells are the causes of their violent dispositions. Psychosurgery is expressly designed to alter the behavior and overall emotional character of an individual. The late Dr. Walter Freeman, a pioneer in the early psychosurgery called lobotomy, commented on this phenomenon by saying that lobotomized patients seldom came into conflict with the law precisely because they lack the imagination to think up new deviltries and the energy to perpetrate them.

Murder of the mind is how critics refer to the end-result of psychosurgery. The role of psychosurgery has little if any applicability for violent behavior, says Dr. A.K. Ommaya, acting chief of the Surgical Neurology Branch of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke (NINCDS)...A similar view comes from Dr. Elliot S. Valenstein, who states that there is no convincing evidence that...episodically occurring violence caused by brain pathology represents anything more than a very insignificant percentage of the violence in our society. He contends that there is no reason to believe that brain pathology is contributing to the accelerating rate of assaultive behavior. Dr. Valenstein is professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and author of the book Brain Control...Lets the reader find solace in the belief that it can't happen to her or to him, that the application of the brain-damage violence theory is confined only to criminals with bad brain cells, there may be an unpleasant surprise in store.

There is much concern about the growing acceptance of behaviorist and psychosurgical remedies for what basically are socioeconomic problems requiring political solutions. There is an ominous reminder of the period just before and during the Nazi regime in Germany, when some of that conuntry's leading psychiatrists described the emotionally ill as an "economic drain," persons of "no value." Their solution Doing away with the mentally ill. Eventually these psychiatric "healers" in Germany played key roles in the physical extermination of some 275,000 mental patients. Dr. Fredric Wertham, in his extraordinarily well documented work on violence, A Sign for Cain, cites psychiatrist Alfred Hoche, who published a book some twelve years before Hitler took power, in which he set the basis for the concept that mental patients were socially non-productive and therefore expendable.

Hoche was professor of psychiatry and director of the psychiatric clinic at Freiburg until 1934. He was a highly respected scientist and had trained some of the outstanding psychiatrists in Germany. As Dr. Wertham points out, however, as to who was fit or not fit to live, Hoche paved the way for looking at the mentally sick and the physically handicapped as a drag on the nation's economy. As early as 1920 he urged that the killing of "worthless people" be legally permitted.

Eventually this thinking led to the Untermenschen theory: that is, that these were people who didn't quite make it to the human level. These theories were interwoven into the criterion for the elimination of non-Aryans, such as Jews, Slavs, and Gypsies...There were dozens of psychiatrists directly involved in the execution of these hapless people, including many thousands of children. Such well-known physicians as Dr. Werner Heyde, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wurzburg, was a key figure in overseeing the use of carbon monoxide as a method for killing mental patients. Yet another internationally known scientist Dr. Werner Villinger, an authority on epilepsy and acute psychosis, began popularizing the view that rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents was hopeless and that sterilization was the answer...What is equally startling is the revelation that Hitler didn't force these psychiatrists to assume their executioner roles; they in their various ways contributed to the Hitlerian myth of the Aryan super-race and the need to rid it of physical or mental defectives. Many less prestigious doctors, at first hesitant to break their Hippocratic oath, ultimately were swept up into this macabre operation as they watched their medical "betters" lead the way.

... While the pro-Nazi psychiatrists were drafting "therapies," the geneticists were laying down the "scientific" foundation for the eradication of second-class humans. No less a notable than Konrad Lorenz, who in 1974 was awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering studies of animal behavior (ethology), had earlier proclaimed the theory of the need to cleanse the Third Reich of its pool of inferior genes. His observations of the animal kingdom, he explained, led him to understand that when domestication of animals takes place, much of the competitiveness in mating is gone and so degenerative mutations take place. A similar phenomenon, he said, surfaces in certain phases of civilization so that "socially inferior human material is penetrate and finally annihilate the healthy nation." In the year 1940, at the height of Hitler's regime, Lorenz wrote: The racial idea as the basis of our state has already accomplished much in this respect... We must - and should - rely upon the healthy feelings of our best and charge them with the selection which will determine the prosperity or the decay of our people.

Currently it would be both presumptuous and reckless to suggest that psychiatrists and neurosurgeons are drafting plans to do away with those Americans who are mentally ill or are deemed incorrigible, uneducable. or noncontributory to the overall economy of this land. But it would be equally inexcusable to forget or to gloss over the Nazi experience. And it would be even less justifiable to overlook similar trends in this country.

Certainly there are enough puffs of smoke on the horizon to suggest that a fire may be smoldering underneath. The tendency in dealing with crime and delinquency is to bypass the social roots of violence (the nation's economic upheavals, unemployment, etc.) and to focus instead on the "pathology," genetic or otherwise, of the culprit who fails to "shape up." It is scarcely believable that so soon after the Nazi era consideration of race as a cause of ethnic depravity has once again surfaced to the degree that it has, the notion of hereditary flaws in ethnic groups is offered as an explanation for the increase in the number of blacks and Hispanics in the prison population. There is not even an attempt at disguising the blatant racism implicit in this approach. It is no longer confined to the mutterings by frustrated, bigoted members of various hate groups. It has become an open issue for debate by academicians. The former Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., who headed a Senate Subcommittee studying the government's role in behavior modification, expressed great alarm at the wide-spread and growing interest in the development of methods designed to predict, identify, control, and modify individual human behavior...In his introduction to the subcommittee's report, late in 1974, the senator declared that behavioral technology.. in the United States today touches upon the most basic sources of individuality, and the very core of personal freedom. He added, To my mind, the most serious the power this technology gives one man to impose his views and values on another...If our society is to remain free, one man must not be empowered to change another man's personality and dictate the values, thoughts and feelings of another.

With reference to psychosurgery, Dr. Robert J. Grimm, a research neurophysiologist at the Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, sees it as an issue comparable in dimension to the debate that arose among nuclear physicists after Hiroshima over the question of the bomb. Do scientists have the right to pursue projects potentially destructive of human life and in this era, destructive of the individual? is the question he put to the Fifth Annual Cerebral Function Symposium in California in March 1974. He felt that such moral issues were repeatedly raised during the Vietnam War over weapon development, germ warfare and massive forest defoliation. These dilemmas, he told his listeners, surface now over the issue of psychosurgery and technical efforts to deal with aggression and anti-social behavior.

Dr. Grimm then warned that neuroscientists will be under increasing pressure to examine their individual and collective positions vis-a-vis the widening issue of brain control application in a democratic society. We cannot escape this responsibility.

The warnings sounded by Dr. Grimm and Senator Ervin could not have been more appropriate: only three years later the nation was stunned to learn that a large-scale behavior control experimentation program had been going on in the United States for upward of twenty-five years. What most of us tradionally felt that "it can't happen here," was indeed happening. At a Senate hearing on August 3, 1977, Admiral Stanfield Turner, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, disclosed that the CIA had been conducting brainwashing experiments on countless numbers of Americans, without their knowledge or consent. Some were prisoners, others were mentally ill patients, still others were cancer patients. But there was also an unknown number of non-patients who unwittingly became experimental subjects; for

instance, patrons at bars in New York, San Francisco, and other cities were drugged with LSD and other psychotropic agents by the CIA. Nurses and other members of hospital staffs underwent sensory deprivation experiments and some of them experienced the onset of schizophrenia.

The CIA activities were clearly illegal and were carried out with the participation of at least 185 scientists and some eighty institutions: prisons, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and forty-four medical colleges and universities...One of the scientists contacted by the CIA was Dr. Robert Heath, a pioneer in psychosurgery and depth-electrode stimulation in the pleasure and pain centers of the brain. Dr. Heath, who is chairman of Tulane University's Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, told the New York Times that he declined a CIA offer of financial aid to investigate the potential for the manipulation of the pain region of the brain. He said he found it "abhorrent." The Times reported, however: Dr. Heath has acknowledged agreeing to do one research project for the agency in 1957 after an agent asked him to test a purported brainwashing drug on monkeys and then if practicable, on prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

The main objective of this mammoth CIA effort, which cost the taxpayers at least $25 million. was to program an individual to do one's bidding even if it would lead to his own destruction. As quoted by the New York Times. a CIA memorandum of January 25, 1952, asked whether it was possible to get control of an individual to the point where he will do our [CIA's] bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature as self-preservation. It added th1at no one seems to know how many citizens were used as guinea pigs and how many were directly harmed.

Considering the scope of the CIA revelations, the recent recommendation by a congressional commission to have the federal government become more active in funding and extending psychosurgery research has raised questions in some quarters. The commission, known as the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, has given its blessings to psychosurgery in the belief that it could be significant in treating a variety of psychiatric ailments that resist psychoanalysis or drugs. The commission feels certain that the safeguards contained in its recommendations would block the use of psychosurgery in experiments to control behavior. The CIA began its brainwashing projects in 1953, the very year that the United States government signed the Nuremberg Code that prohibits human experimentation on captive populations such as prisoners, or anybody else for that matter, unless the person is fully informed on the nature of the experiment and freely gives his or her consent.

Lobotomy was first applied on human patients in 1935, when a Portuguese neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Egas Moniz, became so impressed with a report on how neurotic chimpanzees became passive and compliant after experimental surgery in the frontal lobes that he decided to use it on several of his highly agitated psychotic patients. The initial results seemed dramatic and almost overnight Moniz received worldwide acclaim as the man who had triumphed over schizophrenia.

Sadly enough his "triumph" turned out to be a mixed blessing. He was awarded the Nobel Prize "for his discovery of the therapeutic value of prefrontal lobotomy in certain psychoses." But one of his "successful" lobotomized patients went berserk, got hold of a gun and fired deliberately at the doctor. The bullet pierced Moniz's spine and he wound up a hemiplegic (having one side of his body paralyzed)...Although clinical data was still sparse and the basic rationale for the operation considered to be on shaky grounds, it didn't take long before lobotomy was introduced to the United States. Pioneers in the American application of lobotomy were Dr. Walter Freeman and Dr. James W. Watts. At first critical of Moniz's haste to move from animal experiments to human patients, they themselves in a relatively short time became the leading exponents of the procedure. True to American technology, Dr. Freeman improved upon Moniz's technique by simplifying it so that the operation could be performed in the doctor's office.

Using what became known as the "ice-pick" method, Dr. Freeman would force an ice-pick-like instrument through the skull immediately above the eye into the prefrontal lobes of the brain. It would then be manipulated in such a way as to cut or separate the bottom sections of the frontal lobes; however, the surgeon was operating blindly and destroying not only the presumed targeted area but also a good deal of the surrounding tissue... By the early forties lobotomy was applied wholesale. This was the time when thousands of emotionally broken, battle-fatigued soldiers returning from World War II were crowding the psychiatric wards of the Veterans' Administration hospitals. Traditional psychoanalytic techniques did not alleviate their problems and tranquillizing drugs had not yet made their debut. Vast numbcrs of nurses and paramedical aides were needed to help restrain the frequently violent veterans. The cost of maintaining a large attending staff was high. As Dr. Freeman once admitted, this type of surgery proved to be the ideal operation for use in crowded mental hospitals with a shortage of everything except patients.

Veterans' Administration hospitals rushed to set up crash programs to train surgeons in lobotomy techniques and with this encouragement many an overzealous surgeon unsheathed his scalpel and proceeded on his own. It was open season on the luckless "agitated" mental patient, whether a veteran or someone languishing in the back ward of a state mental asylum...The upshot; Thousands of mental patients soon found themselves with bits of their frontal lobes gone. It is reported that some surgeons did as many as fifty lobotomies a day.


Experiments with electrical brain stimulation began early in the nineteenth century. By mid-century, scientists in Italy, England, Russia, France, and Germany were already sticking electrically charged pins and needles into the brains of dogs, frogs and cats in an attempt to learn more about the nature of the nervous system.

But it was not until the 1920s that two European scientists came up with separate discoveries that gave neurophysiological research a dramatic push forward and paved the way to modern psychosurgery and brain conditioning techniques in general. The Austrian psychiatrist Hans Berger discovered in 1924 that the brain gave off electrical signals, which he was able to record via tracings on paper, similar to the method used in recording heart action (ECGs) by the electrocardiographic apparatus. He named these signals electroencephalograms (ECG's for short), the first recorded clues to the neural activity of the brain..,The same year the Swiss physiologist Walter R. Hess began investigating behavioral responses in animals with electrical stimulation of various intra-cranial regions through wires implanted in their brains. Working mostly with cats, Hess was able to pinpoint upward of 4000 neural sites in the hypothalamus that related directly to specific reactions of the animals.

Stimulation at one point threw the animal into violent rage. At another point, the cat began to sweat. In yet another area the cat would eat voraciously.

In a strange kind of way, the two researchers had begun communicating directly with the brain. On the one hand, Berger was eavesdropping on what was going on inside the brain by spelling out its electrical activity through the EEGs. Hess, by prodding various cell clusters of the brain with electrical charges, was ordering them to activate different body functions and possibly emotions of the animal undergoing the experiment...On further experimentation Hess found that just as he was able to have these electrical stimulations turn on a cat's wrath almost instantly, so too was he able to douse the animal's fury by cutting off the current. This phenomenon became known as "sham" rage, since it did not stem from the complex emotions that customarily lead to anger. Scientists could scarcely accept this display of angcr or other elect rically induced moods as being connected with other than psychomotoractivity.

One of the most dramatic experiments related to this question was the famous demonstration performed in a Madrid bullring some years ago by the eminent neurophysiologist Dr. Jose M.R. Delgado, formerly of Yale and now back in this native Spain. Dr. Delgado outfitted a bull, one especially bred for bullfights, with a radio-controlled electrode within its brain and a batterypowered receiver fastened to its horns. Standing dressed in a sweater and slacks, Dr. Delgado's only identificaiton with the matador image was a red cape, which he waved at the oncoming "brave bull" - hundreds of pounds of unbridled fury charging directly at the scientist. At the moment when the bull was only several yards away Dr. Delgado felt for his transmitter, his only counterweapon and pressed a button. This signalled the receiver at the horns, which in turn activated the electrode that stimulated the caudate nucleus, a brain structure involved in controlling muscular and movement responses. The bull came to a roaring full stop.

Dr. Delgado believes that stimulation of this section of the brain will inhibit aggressiveness. Brave bulls (especially trained intruder into the arena.) The animal, in full charge, can be abruptly stopped by radio stimulation of the brain. After several stimulations, there is a lasting inhibition of aggressive behavior. Improving the desired regions of the brain, with the help of anatomical atlases and three-dimensional X-ray monitoring devices, was another new benefit, and what with telemetric amplifiers adapted from space exploration and computer data analysis, the stage appeared set for sensational revelations about the elulsive brain.

Buoyed by this new technology, a number of neuroscientists quickly overcame their inhibitions caused by disappointing experiences with lobotormy. Most psychosurgeons have now abandoned the basic principle of lobotomy, involving the cutting of the neural fibers in the prefrontal lobes, an area considered to be the decision-making and perceptual frontier of the brain and have shifted their attention to the limbic system, which is situated much deeper inside the brain.

The Farrall Company, which exhibits its wares at the meetings of the American Psychological Association and other professional conventions, distributes literature rejecting the views of many professionals that aversive methods are more punitive than corrective. It contends that zapping is the panacea for antisocial behavior, for psychosomatic disorders, self-destructive behavior and sexual deviance.

Advances in space technology, such as telemetry, have helped in the development of electric-shock equipment. The Farrall Company is now able to manufacture a long-distance wireless shocker with an "increased shock output." It has a range of around 75 feet indoors and 300 feet outdoor: . The Farrall catalogue explains that the long, outdoor range "makes the unit useful on the playground and in similar situations. The control unit is a small, handheld device. The receiver shocker is a small unit housed in a leather case and is usually attached to the patient by a belt around the waist."...Every time the child is about to break an institutional rule or do something that is frowned upon by the staff, the person at the controls presses a button, thus sending a signal that delivers the electrical shock either to the waist, the arm or the leg.

According to the Farrall booklet, the wireless shocker gives clinicians and researchers aversive control over situations without the encumbrance of wires. The patient can now move with unrestrained freedom and yet be under control. Another advantage: the physical separation of the patient from the therapist, at the time when the shock comes on, makes the patient think less of the therapist as a punisher and associate the shock with the undesired act he is doing. (The shock is adjustable from 9 to 800 volts, it is a narrow 1 to 2 milliseconds in width, and the current is 5 milliamperes.)

A so-called Personal Shocker, the Farrall Company says, is "ideal for the doctor to carry with him. The compact size and appearance of this shocker makes it less frightening to the patient. Despite this appearance, the apparatus has a very aversive shock."..."Correctional" methodology is taking on an ever greater repressive character, whether it be electric zapping, long prison sentences, or psychosurgery. There is little patience with those who plead for the understanding of the basic causes that are at the root of juvenile delinquency. The adult section of the population is much too involved with its own frustrations, much of it associated with economic despair and as a result this nations' traditionally compassionate approach to helping a youngster overcome some of her or his dilemmas is fast becoming a sentimental memory.


In the quest to instill prison discipline with maximum effectiveness, various penal institutions throughout the United States have been hard at work experimenting with a variety of additional "aversive therapies": vomit-inducing drugs, the "hole" (solitary confinement) and electric-shock therapy.

These procedures are not referred to as punitive in character. The usual term is "corrective" or even "therapeutic." The prisoner may be chained to an iron bed for days on end, compelled to wallow in his own wastes - it's all for the prisoners' own good; a sort of transitional rehabilitative experience that will help speed his return to the normal fold.

Thus, when surgeons at Vacaville pushed electrodes deep into the brains of the three prisoners to zero in on the suspected cluster of damaged cells and then shot through a voltage strong enough to kill these cells, they were doing it to help the prisoners, not to crush them or punish them.

Despite the fact that conditions in most prisons are so difficult to endure - no matter how much even a repentant inmate tries - despite the endless series of prison riots that seem to underscore the validity of the prisoners' complaints, the emphasis is on forcing the prisoner to accept these conditions rather than on having the conditions ameliorated...lnterestingly enough, even John Mitchell, when in the post of U.S. Attorney General in the Nixon administration, charged that "the state of America's prisons comes close to a national shame. No civilized society should allow it to continue." According to the United Nations, the United States is second to Turkey in having the worst prisons in the western world. Scarcely a month passes without a major prison incident,due to appalling overcrowding, the idleness to which prisoners are subjected both of which inevitably lead to explosons of the Attica type.

Alabama is not the only state found violating the constitutional rights of prisoners. Since 1970 federal courts have placed similar charges against Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi and Masssachusetts. Jessica Mitford in her hook "Kind and Usual Punishment" has solidly documented the accusations that cruelty foisted upon the caged prisons population is not "unusual" but more likely to be the usual conditions though most of country's penitentiaries.

Together with the physical measures traditionally used by prison wardens, the behaviorist specialists now offer technological weaponry to intrude into the individual's innermost thinking processes, an area generally considered sacrosanct even for the prisoner and enshrined within constitutional rights. But, in effect, the psychologist and the psychiatrist have become part of the prison constabulary. They have steadily taken on the role of architects' of programs aimed at giving the jailers maximum effectiveness in keeping their wards at bay. Their chief contribution to maintaining discipline is the introduction of more subtle means of keeping the inmate off balance, in a perpetual state of fear, with the hope that once some of this dread and terror is instilled, it will become a permanent part of his psyche and inhibit him from defying those representing authority, even when he leaves the prison walls.

Since the majority of the prison population is black, Hispanic, or Chicano, it is legitimate to ask whether this terror approach is taking on a racist quality. (According to the AGLU, between 80 percent and 90 percent of those held in solitary confinement are members of minority groups.) As more angry young men and women questioning and politically rebellious, come in conflict with the law, we must also ask whether the wish to change society is reason enough for our young people to be subjected to these brain-retread operations?

There are those who are profoundly worried that prisons are being converted into proving grounds for psychosurgery and & host of other procedures designed to break the human spirit. Are these prisons to become laboratories for the testing of technologies of behavior alteration aimed at nonconformists in general, at the so called deviants-alcholics, homosexuals, and disturbed persons - as well as those out of step politically? As James Baldwin once put it in a letter to Angela Davis: If they come for you in the

morning, they'll be back for me at night.

Among those who seriously weigh the implications of this trend is former Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. who chaired a three year study of this question by the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. As disturbing as behavior modification may be on a theoretical level, he warned in his report, the unchecked growth of the practical, the technology has expanded our capacity for meeting society's needs, it has also increased, to a startling degree, our ability to enter and affect the lives of individual citizens ...Senator Ervin reported that his committee watched with growing concern as behavioral research unearths vast new capabilities far more rapidly than we are able to reconcile the many important questions of individual liberties raised by these capabilities. He deplored the fact that with the speedy proliferation of these techniques few real efforts have been made to consider the basic issue of individual freedom involved and to minimize fundamental conflicts between individual rights and behavior technology.

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penitentiaries will affect Americans outside jails as well...By the year 2000 the prison system will increasingly be valued and used as a laboratory and workshop for social change is the prediction of James V. Bennett, in his book I Chose Prison. Mr. Bennett was director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisoner for nearly thirty years.


Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Michael Crichton, the young doctor writer from Harvard, introduced the "violence and brain" theory to the general public. His sensational book, The Terminal Man, a fast-paced thriller, describes how a team of neurosurgeons attempted to regulate the behavior of a murder-bent paranoiac by having his brain controlled via a computer. Much of this material is based directly on the Mark-Ervin Book, Violence and the Brain. No coincidence, Dr. Ervin told me. Crichton was his student at Harvard Medical School just a short while before.

A few months after the Crichton book was published, Dr. Sweet was testifying at the Senate committee on Appropriations hearings (May 23,1972), urging that diagnostic centers be established to sort out those of us who may imperil society because of extra chromosomes or damaged brain cells.

One such center was being planned in California. The Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence was to be set up to develop behavioral indicators, profiles, biological correlates, to assist school administrators, law enforcement personnel and governmental departments to detect and control overt expression of life-threatening behavior by identifiable individuals and groups. The proposed center was to be under the direction of the prestigious Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles, and it would be the prototype for other such facilities in different parts of the country. It was to be funded jointly by the State of California and the LEAA.

For the first time in the history of the United States, criteria were to be set up for the labelling (or stigmatizing) of individuals believed to be potentially criminal, even though they had committed no crime. It was also astonishing that the program was so blatantly rigged against those sections of society that were most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves: for those to be drawn upon for experimentation would be children, minority group members, and prisoners.


The Nuremberg Code is an international agreement subscribed to by the United States and other countries that fought against Nazi Germany. It is considered one of the most solemn documents growing out of World War II. At the time of its signing, it represented a visceral outcry against one of history's most terrifying obscenities - the concentration camps where, among other things, the captive population was subjected to some of the most heinous experiments by German scientists and doctors. In the Nuremberg Judgment, which denounced all those participating in the concentration camp "research," the entire world was put on notice that hereafter persons held in prisons or mental institutions, regardless of their crimes or sickness, were never again to be forced into experiments without their consent or knowledge of what these experiments were all about...The Commission consists of eleven members: three physicians, two behavioral psychologists, two bioethicists, three lawyers (two are professors and one is a practicing attorney), and one representative of a national women's group. They were appointed by Caspar Weinberger, secretary of HEW during the Nixon administration...For nearly two years, mostly weekends, the eleven commissioners deliberated the issues in keeping with the congressional mandate requiring that:

The Commission shall conduct an investigation and study of the use of psychosurgery in the United States during the five-year period ending December 31,1972. The Commission shall determine the appropriateness of its use, evaluate the need for it, and recommend to the Secretary policies defining the circumstances (if any) under which its use may be appropriate.

Psychosurgery was defined as brain surgery on

(1) .. Normal brain tissue of an individual who does not suffer from any physical disease, for the purpose of changing or controIling the behavior or emotions of such an individual, or (2) diseased brain tissue of an individual, if the sole object of the performance of such surgery is to control, change, or affect any behavioral or emotional disturbances of such an individual. The term does not include brain surgery designed to cure or ameliorate the effects of epilepsy and [sic] electric shock treatments.

The commission expanded the definition by replacing the word "sole" with

"primary" to read:

Psychosurgery means brain surgery on (1) normal brain tissue...or (2) diseased brain tissue of an individual, if the primary object is to control behavioral or emotional disturbance.

It further explained that psychosurgery included "implantation of electrodes, destruction or direct stimulation of brain tissue by any means (e.g., ultrasound, laser beams) and the direct application of substances to the brain, when the primary purpose of such intervention is to alter mood or behavior." Brain surgery to relieve anguish from persistent pain would fall within this definition, but an operation to remove physical causes of pain or to control movement disorders (such as in Parkinsonism) would not be

covered by the definition. The Commission's recommendations, published in the Federal Register, May 23,1977, unless modified by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., the current secretary of HEW, will constitute the criteria for the use of psychosurgery in all federal agencies under HEW authority and in hospitals getting

government subsidies. These recommendations were also offered to Congress for application to agencies over which its jurisdiction resides. The proposed regulations, however, will not inhibit surgeons who operate in private institutions and hospitals that are not dependent on financial assistance from the government. Even if such procedures are done without the Commission's recommended safeguards for the protection of the patient there would be nothing in the law to restrain the private surgeon from going ahead with the operation, once his or her patient agrees to submit to it. There will be no peer review to assess his diagnostic workup, the surgical procedure that he would employ, or the consequences of such surgery.

"Neither the tone nor the content of the Commission's report on psychosurgery in August 1976, was anticipated," Professor George J. Annas commented in the April 1977 issue of the Hasting Center Report, published by the Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences. Most observers expected the Commission to recommend banning the procedure or at least to declare a moratorium on its use until considerably more animal experimentation had taken place.

Instead the Commission came out with a kind or ringing endorsement when it recommended that the secretary of HEW be encouraged to conduct and support studies to evaluate the safety of specific psychosurgical procedures and the efficacy of such procedures in relieving specific psychiatric symptoms and disorders...On the basis of two studies especially prepared for it, the Commission declared that "there is at least tentative evidence that someforms of psychosurgery can be of significant therapeutic value in. the treatment of certain disorders or in relief of certain symptoms." Thus, the Commission proposed that the operation should be extended to prisoners, to institutionalized mental patients, and even to emotionally ill children. Though in the context of its guidelines the surgery would be done with research protocols in mind, it was not to be viewed as "experimental." even though by its own admission the safety and efficacy of specific psychosurgical procedures...have not been demonstrated to the degree that would permit such procedures to be considered accepted practice.

It is ironic that discussion of psychosurgery as the answer to violence via the destruction of sections of the amygdala area of the brain, as proposed by Dr. Mark, Dr. Ervin, and others, is completely omitted in the Commission report. After all this is what spurred consideration of the psychosurgery question by the Commission in the first place, especially because of charges that the procedure could be used punitively to subdue nonconformist elements of society.

Only a few years back, Dr. Bertram S. Brown, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, when testifying before a Senate hearing on the possibilIties of psychosurgery being used as an lnstrument of mass behavioral control, declared, Yes...I can picture scenarios under certain kinds of

authoritarian situations where it could be usedfor such purposes. I think it would be dreadful and un-American...Dr. L. Alex Swan, chairman of the Sociology Department at Fisk University. said:...There is no question in my mind that most scientific research in America is politically determined, controlled and manipulated in order to repress healthy dissent and legitimate disagreement in a society which has used violence to solve its problems and only condemns it when others resort to it.

In formulating its stand on psychosurgery, the National Minority Conference viewed the issue as yet another instance in which blacks or Hispanics would be used as research material. The social context of institutionalized racism in this country, it declared, insures the use of the least powerful as the major source of subjects in human experimentation. It went on to say that procedures such as psychosurgery have been and can be misused by those in power against the powerless in society. With this constant fear in mind, we have approached the issue of psychosurgery in a very cautious manner, fearing that the door to further abuse from the people in power may be opening wider.

The paucity of hard, fully dependable scientific data concerning psychosurgical methodology and efficacy troubled some of the commissioners even months after the Commission had announced its decision to back the use of these operations on children and prisoners. One of the commissioners, Patricia King, told me that she was unhappy about the recommendations and would try to re-open the question. She had been absent from the session at which the final vote was taken. A few months later, when the full Commission reconvened to make final decisions on wording of the recommendations, Professor King raised the question whether present, day knowledge, including the Mirsky-Teuber studies, warranted psychosurgery on minors. Commissioner King stated: I think I should let everybody know that after much soul searching, I do not feel that I can support psychosurgical procedures on children, at this time. I think the Commission recognizes that in its comments, but in thinking about it, I don't think this Commission is going to have the last word on psychosurgery.

Another Commissioner, Mr. Robert H. Turtle (practicing attorney, Washington, D.C.) had similar reservations:...I have much the same problem that Pat does, especially with regard to the children. I think I basically view the psychosurgical situation at the present time to be a very large research program...I just feel instinctively, that I would not like to see that program carried out on children, or prisoners, at the present time.

Now it can be argued from the other side that I am, therefore, in favor of depriving children and prisoners of their right to obtain a form of treatment. I admit to that, quite frankly...I would be willing to withhold that right, or privilege, until such time as a particular procedure became generally accepted therapy...I have in mind a particular situation which occurred in a D.C. jail when I was in court one day...Two prisoners took over the entire cellblock, in the basement and created quite a state of siege and basically they did it because they were being transferred from one institution to another, to Springfield, Missouri, where they thought that - and I am not supporting their allegations - they were going to be subjected to psychosurgical procedures. I think that we could give prisoners in this country, people who are involved in prison reform in this country, a considerable easing of their state of mind, if we were to, at the present time, quite clearly state that psychosurgery should not be carried out on prisoners.

To begin with, every hospital offering psychosurgical service would have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that would examine the technical aspects of the proposed procedure.


The man sitting next to you at a lunch counter may to all intents and purposes share the anonymity of the others in the coffee shop. He is munching on a sandwich as he scans a newspaper and he reveals nothing that would set him apart from those around him. But this man is different. He is a recently released prisoner and is now on parole. And he is under constant surveillance - 24 hours a day - even though there is no policeman outside eyeing him through the window and no informant huddling in a doorway ready to shadow him the moment he leaves the restaurant. His every move is known to the authorities. And a lot more than that is known to them: for instance, his respiration rate, his adrenal output, his heart rate. Thanks to the latest developments relating to psychosurgery, even his brain wave activity can be monitored by remote control.

This combined intelligence when relayed to a central computer, will enable it to weight the possibilities as to whether the parolee at any given moment is up to no good. Should he be strolling about in an attractive shopping area and the programmed computer begins getting signals that the wares on display might be tempting, his whereabouts is automatically flashed to the computer. If at the same time his heart begins to beat faster and his adrenal output increases as his brain waves (electroencephalograms) register a spiking pattern (considered by some to be indicative of excitement leading to violence), the computer may decide that his general behavior profile points to possible mischief. The computer will then alert the police closest to where the parolee is and/or send out a signal to inhibit or distract him.

Dr. Schwitzgebel concedes that the danger that telemetric surveillance could be abused is always present. For instance, he says, this approach could be extended to involuntary surveillance of groups not generally incarcerated. He acknowledges that some administrators may wish, for example, to control certain behaviors of high-risk probationers, suspects in gang war activity, Communist Party members, or government employees. Individuals belonging to these groups might be committed on minor violations for the purpose of later releasing them under surveillance.

It is therefore entirely conceivable that political dissidents such as the 12.000 protesters against the Vietnam war who were arrested during a Washington demonstration in May 1971, could be outfitted with monitoring devices and then locked into a surveillance system for as long as the authorities wish. These devices would no longer be as cumbersome as those used in Dr. Schwitzgebel's early experiments in Boston. As he explains it his patents cover the development of a "low-power transmitter that is worn on the wrist. It is lightweight and non-removable. "You can't remove the wrist transmitter without having the alarm go oft, because you break the circuit to remove it."

Dr. Schwitzgebel expects many rapid changes in our social mores because of the extraordinary character of the new technologies about us, and he thinks that the faster society wakes up to this phenomenon the better off it will be. A new field of study may be emerging, variously known as behavioral engineering or behavioral instrumentation, that focuses upon the use of electro-mechanical devices for the modification of behavior.

Another surveillance enthusiast is J. A. Meyer, a Defense Department computer expert who has come up with a similar scenario that he calls the Crime Deterrent Transponder System. These radio signaling units would be attached to criminal recidivists, parolees and bailees to identify them and detect their whereabouts. Meyer goes on to describe in detail how the system could be set up, the costs and the way it would operate.

Meyer visualizes his system as being used on a large scale. He talks of long-term surveillance. He suggests that to make the plan work effectively, and at the same time make sense on a cost-accounting basis, it should be used to monitor hundreds of thousands of people all over the country, even though inevitably hundreds of thousands more people who are not targets of police interest, would also come under scrutiny...he sees great savings in the surveillance system. He calculates that on a mass-production basis each transponder would cost something like twenty dollars. The cost of each control unit, mounted on apartment and office buildings, would be several hundred dollars. In a City like New York the cost for a system fo 20,000 transceivers and several computers would be in the range of $25 million annually. The current police budget is nearly one billion dollars a year...Moreover, because the population in the big cities is increasing faster than the number of available jobs, poverty will steadily intensify and provide the breeding ground for more crime. As Meyer puts it, the poor and uneducated urban dweller is fundamentally unnecessary to the economy of the city, and he is soon made aware of this. Therefore, he adds, as long as the problem of the unwanted people continues, so will crime continue. Since the present system has nothing to offer by which to counteract this phenomenon, he feels that the transponder or electronic surveillance proposal may be the answer.

Operating on this premise, Schwitzgebel, in a brochure prepared for the National Institute of Mental Health, sees the need to keep a section of the population strait-jacketed because no basic solution is in sight. He declared, Ultimately, most offenders will have to live in an environment similar to the one that produced, or at least did not successfully inhibit, their illegal behaviors.

A transponder surveillance system can surround one with a kind of externalized conscience - an electronic substitue for the social conditioning, group pressures and inner motivation which most of the society lives with.

Meyer rejects criticism of the electronic surveillance system as a step closer to the creation of a police state. Detractors, he says, could probably say the same thing about prisons, the judicial system, taxes and other state institutions. Meyer's proposal and certainly that of Schwitzgebel have hit a sympathetic chord with a number of criminologists and behaviorists who see telemetric control of crime as part of the wave of the near future. For a half dozen years criminologists and law professors have been debating the Schwitzgebel proposal. Others see additional application of the techniques. For instance, Dr. D.N. Michael, testifying before a congressional subcommittee investigating the perils of Computer Invasion of Privacy, envisaged a surveillance system that would control mental patients when released from an institution:

It is not impossible to imagine that parolees will check in and be monitored by transmitters embedded in their flesh, reporting their wherabouts in code and automatically as they pass receiving stations...The most far-reaching proposal for surveillance and behavior control may come out of the laboratories of such neurophysiologists as Dr. Jose M.R. Delgado, for many years profesor of physiology at Yale... Dr. Delgado. some of whose accomplishments were touched on earlier, is now involved in the development of so-called brain pacemakers, that on radio command will stimulate certain sections of the brain to bring about a predetermined pattern of behavior. He describes the device as a radio link for wireless communication between the brain and a computer. He named it "stimoceiver" because it can stimulate certain sections of the brain when it receives radio signals of where the targets should be.

He told me that once the stimoceiver is embedded under the scalp with tiny electrodes extending from it into the limbic system of the brain, it will go into action on radio command. This device, he said, now has four channels, which means that it could reach out to that many sections of the brain. Sometime soon, he said, we shall have maybe twenty such channels. Eventually these appliances could remain implanted in the person's head forever - he could carry this instrument for life, if necessary. The energy to activate this device would be supplied by radio frequency externally and therefore there would be no need for batteries.

As Dr. Delgado explained in an article in 1975, Long term repeated excitation of the brain permits the application of programs of stimulation to suitable structures, to induce autonomic, somatic and behavioral responses...and also to influence inhibitory systems. Dr. Delgado is optimistic that with the increasing sophistication and miniaturization of electronics, it may be possible to compress the necessary circuitry for a small computer into a chip that is implantable subcutaneously. In this way, the new self-contained instrument could be devised, capable of receiving, analyzing and sending back information to the brain, establishing artificial links between unrelated cerebral areas, functional feedbacks, and programs of stimulation contingent on the appearance of predetermined wave patterns.

The former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas gave a strong early warning of this possibility: We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where there are no secrets from government. The aggressive breaches of privacy by the government increase by geometric proportions. Wiretapping and "bugging" run rampant, without effective judicial or legislative control... The time may come when no one can be sure whether his words are being recorded for use at some future time; when everyone will fear that his most secret thoughts are no longer his own, but belong to the government; when the most confidential and intimate conversation are always open to eager prying ears. Privacy, and with it liberty, will be gone.

If a man's privacy can be invaded at will, who can say he is free If his every association is known and recorded, if the conversations with his associates are purloined who can say he enjoys freedom of association? When such conditions obtain, our citizens will be afraid to utter any but the safest and most orthodox thoughts; afraid to associate with any but the most acceptable people. Freedom as the Constitution envisages will have vanished. The concern expressed by Justice Douglas and others reflects the fear that these developments are on a direct collision course with certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution, specifically as they apply to privacy.

The first, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments are supposed to protect against scrutiny of one's thinking or beliefs: it would seem that they preclude the use of surveillance or depth electrode screening of individuals suspected of ciminal tendencies. In practice. however, the courts have. allowed the privacy principle to be bypassed in innumerable ways, including such expedients as the use of semantics, describing a snooping operation as an act of "observation" rather than search, which the Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits, unless a warrant is issued for reasons supported by sworn statements. The Fifth Amendment, which declares that no person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..can also be straddled.

Historically the Fifth Amendment has been applied only in criminal actions and not in civil cases. Since Schwitzgebel sees his surveillance program in the context of prevention rather than criminal pursuit, the Fifth Amendment would be a very soft reed on which to lean when resisting electronic oversight through the courts. Indeed, the Schwitzgebel proposal discusses the possibility that the two-way radio communication system would permit a parole officer or therapist at the central control room to guide or steer the parolee away from temptation whenever his transmitter emits such electrical beeps as would indicate an emotional crisis that might be interpreted as leading to a criminal act.

The steady stream of information pouring out of the transmitter concerning the parolee's emotional and physical state would be tantamount to a forfeiture of the protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment against divulging information that might prove self-incriminating. Certainly with respect to Delgado's stimoceiver there would be no question of a violation of the Bill of Rights...There is another aspect to electronic monitoring which intensifies the insidiousness of this technique is that it forces an individual to betray others with whom he or she may become intimate. Unaware of the continuous surveillance, they may find themsleves confiding in the parolee certain information about themselves which automatically becomes part of the police record, once again in violation of constitutional safeguards to privacy.

Schwitzgebel has also expressed some concern that his surveillance scheme could be misused. He is confident, however, that appropriate government regulations and strict controls would minimize the possibility that surveillance would filter into the lives of the non-criminal sector of society. One critic of electronic surveillance, Professor Bernard Beck of Northwesern University, questions Schwitzgebel's reassurances. The history of our age, he says, is not very reassuring about the power of enlightened, humane thinking to limit or guide the implementation of powerful technological advances.

Schwitzgebel, he says, gives us only injunctions, 'we must,' 'they must,' but we get no help if we can't and they will not. Can we expect that sometime the same technical cleverness that devises systems like this will devise strategies for insuring the responsibility of adopting agencies Or would that be one more gift from Pandora's box?

Such doubts about the Schwitzgebel-Meyer expedients might readily disapper if the authorities were [1] to veer in the direction of the Delgado formula. The adoption of methods to reshape behavior via Delgado's depth-electrode technique would definitely fall into the category of therapy, as presently defined and would therefore be free of criticism that it would inhibit political self-expression. The central and growing danger is that non-conformism of all types - social, sexual, or political - can be associated with and interpreted as deviance of a neuropsychiatric nature. If this is accomplished, the psychiatric establishment and the neurosurgeons can begin playing a much more important role in policing unacceptable behavior of any kind (street violence, political dissidence, etc.). If all of these begin to be treated as ailments, it may increasingly become the purpose it frankly started:

Among those championing the most extreme form of behavioral modification is neurophysiologist Jose M.R. Delgado. For nearly thirty years (mostly at Yale), this Spanish scientist has been involved in a variety of dramatic but controversial experiments in which he uses electrical brain-stimulation to alter or direct the behavior of animals as well as human beings. His philosophy is spelled out in the book Physical Control of the Mind in which he forsees a psychocivilised society in which people will become wiser and happier because of better developed brains thanks to advances in neurophysiology and such techniques as electro-brain stimulation.

Implantation of depth electrodes, whether for ESB or for burning out tissue, has been considered by many neurophysiologists as another form of psychosurgery. The National Commission, which recently approved the use of psychosurgery to be done in a research context, very definitely states that psychosurgery includes Brain surgery, implantation of electrodes, destruction or direct stimulation of brain tissue by any means...Delgado has called for massive governmental investments for increasing research and development of methods for "conquering the human mind." This, he said, could be a central theme for international co-operation and understanding because its aim is to know the mechanisms of the brain, which make all men behave and misbehave, which give us pleasure and suffering, which promote love and hate.

The one question that Delgado continues to skirt, just as much as Professor Skinner does (a man whom Delgado obviously holds in high regard), is whether a psychocivilized society would indeed create an earthly paradise, or would it pave the way to an era of brain control. Delgado feels that even though the latter entails certain dangers, it is still worth the risk. Scienctific discoveries and technology cannot be shelved because of real or imaginary dangers, Dr. Delgado believes. It may certainly be predicted that the evolution of physical control of the brain and the acquisition of knowledge derived from it, he declares, will continue at an accelerated pace. This, he added, points hopefully toward the development of a more intelligent and peaceful mind of the species without loss of individual indentity and toward the exploitation of the most suitable kind of feedback mechanism: the human brain studying the human brain.

The pivotal question remains: Who will be at the controls in programming education and supervising brain stimulation leading to acceptable modes of behavior. But this question, Delgado, very much like Skinner, evades completely...When I talked to him in New York a few years ago on the same issue, he said:... The world of scientific research into which the United States government is ready to plunge psychosurgery experiments is a murky one. It is convulsed by frenzied competion for grants from the government and from foundations whose funds are becoming depleted. There is mounting evidence that some scientists, desperate to build their images as important investigators so that they can renew their grants, will deliberately falsify data and will readily tailor their purported findings to comply with the biases of those who sponsor them.

But even more ominous is the fact the federal agencies that are supposed to act as watchdogs in the public interest have also become involved in bizarre experiments with human beings, that violate basic ethical standards or constitutional human rights. And just like individual investigators, these agencies are also in hot pursuit of funds, and thus are equally ready to promote programs that are astonishingly out of character with the original purposes for which they were founded. In the process, not only is scientific integrity sacrificed but also the welfare of many thousands of this country's poor who make up the reservoir of experimental subjects: whether in the penitentiaries, the mental institutions, or as free individuals in the hospital wards. Senator Sam J. Ervin. Jr.. who for three years (1971-1974) headed a Senate subcommittee investigating the government's involvement in behavior-modification programs, warned that such a trend imperiled some of the basic constitutional rights of Americans. Whenever...therapies are applied to alter men's minds, he declared, extreme care must be taken to prevent the infringement of individual rights. He added that concepts of freedom, privacy, and self-determination inherently conflict with programs designed to control not just physical freedom, but the source of free thought as well.

[1] Actually such uses of depth electrodes were already detailed in existing law.
It was stated in chapter 616 of the 1973 edition of the laws of the state of Oregon:

    "Whereas it is in the policy of State of Oregon that deliberate and irreversible alteration of either the structure or function or brain to bring about control of thoughts, emotional feelings, or behavior of a human being shall not be considered except in the most extraordinary of situations when such drastic procedures are proposed as a necessary course of last resort to provide a person in need of special treatment with human care."

The intent of this act is to provide the strictest possible control over the advocasy and practise of operation specifically aimed at permanently altering behavior.
'Intracranial brain stimulation' means the surgical implantation of electrodes within the brain for the purpose of directly stimulating specific brain structures to produce alteration of the thoughts, emotions, or behavior in human beings."

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