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Psychic driving was a psychiatric procedure in which patients were subjected to a continuously repeated audio message on a looped tape, in order to alter their behaviour. In psychic driving, patients were often exposed to hundreds of thousands of repetitions of a single statement over the course of their treatment. They were also concurrently administered muscular paralytic drugs such as Curare in order to subdue them for the purposes of exposure to the looped message(s). The procedure was pioneered by Dr. D. Ewen Cameron, and utilised and funded by the U.S. CIA's MKULTRA program in Canada. Similar techniques are alleged to have been used in the kidnapping and death of CIA operative William Francis Buckley by Aziz al-Abub, a student of Cameron's, in 1984-1985.[citation needed]

The topic of Psychic Driving is dealt with in some detail in the docu-drama entitled "The Sleep Room" (1998) directed by Anne Wheeler.[1] The psychic driving procedure was a chronological precursor to Cameron's Depatterning, the latter involving massive doses of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) combined with similarly large doses of psychedelic drugs (such as L.S.D.). The intent was to break down the subject's personality—theoretically psychic driving could then be used with some efficacy in establishing a new personality.[2] In Cameron's Depatterning, the ECT would often continue to be administered despite the manifestation of convulsive fits, which were consensually considered to be contraindications to normal and safe ECT procedure. Such biologically and psychologically devastating procedures, adopted internationally by the psychiatric establishment, were largely abolished by the time the CIA was brought before a Senate Hearing (1977)[3] for its involvement and funding of Cameron's experimental activities—as part of the MKULTRA Program.[4]

See also


  • Anne Collins (2002-06-12). In The Sleep Room: The Story Of The CIA Brainwashing Experiments In Canada. Key Porter Books. ISBN 1-5501-3932-0.


  1. The Sleep Room at the Internet Movie Database
  2. Cameron DE, Lohrenz JG, Handcock KA (April 1962). "The depatterning treatment of schizophrenia". Compr Psychiatry 3: 65–76. doi:10.1016/S0010-440X(62)80015-7. PMID 13875932.
  3. Transcript of the 1977 Senate Hearing can be found here, here or here
  4. For information on the 1977 Court Action against the CIA see: Rauh Jr JL, Turner JC (1990). "Anatomy of A Public Interest Case Against the CIA". Hamline Journal of Public Law & Policy 11: 307.


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