Human Guinea Pigs
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Another psychiatrist in the saga is Denis Lazure, president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association in 1966.
From 1999 to 2001, Lazure headed the “Support Committee for Justice for the Duplessis Orphans” — an effort that, according to Rod Vienneau, betrayed those it pretended to help. Vienneau compared Lazure’s position on the committee to “a fox in the chicken coop.”
In his memoirs, Medecin et Citoyen, published in 2002, Lazure wrote that in 1952, while interning at Hospice St. Jean de Dieu, a massive psychiatric facility in Montreal since renamed Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Hospital, he and five other interns regularly administered electroshock and routinely put patients into insulin comas.4
Lazure breezily described how he would “start the day pushing the button on the electrical box that sends a current to provoke an epileptic-type convulsion in tens of patients who hadn’t received any preparatory medication.”5
Then he was off to the insulin coma rooms, “half-lit, vile-smelling, with two dozen patients that we’d inject with doses of insulin strong enough to induce a coma. After several hours of excessive sedation, they’d receive a glucose injection, which usually brought them back to consciousness. It sometimes happened that we got the shock of a patient that failed to reawaken.”6
Lazure painted a disturbing picture of St. Jean de Dieu, one in which psychiatrists played with and destroyed human life. Later in 1952, Lazure left the institution for Verdun Protestant (now Douglas) Hospital, where he assisted chemical lobotomy pioneer Lehmann in tests of chlorpromazine.7
Montreal journalist Kristian Gravenor quipped, “Lazure went on to head hospitals and run the provincial health ministry, fried brains and accidental overdoses not slowing him down one bit.”8
Lazure’s statement that he and Lehmann tested chlorpromazine in 1952 lends credence to claims by Clarina Duguay and others of being forced to take the drug prior to 1953 — the year Lehmann supposedly “discovered” how to use it to straitjacket patients — and raises questions regarding how many Orphans may have been exploited as human guinea pigs.
One St. Jean de Dieu doctor who asked not to be identified estimated that chlorpromazine was being administered to 500 people at St. Jean de Dieu in 1952 — even though the drug received its first approval for human use in Canada in 1957, according to Health Canada, the government agency over such matters.9
Psychiatry Destroys Life
Children’s advocate Carol Rutz, author of A Nation Betrayed, told Freedom that based on her research, the Duplessis Orphans became prime subjects for psychiatric testing and abuse.
These children, she said, were defenseless — easy prey for ruthless doctors who inflicted pain and death under the guise of science.
Many boys and girls, she said, “had no parents to return home to, hence the extent of their abuse needed no cover-up. Who would tell? They could be beaten or drugged into submission.”
Orphans at St. Jean de Dieu were selected to receive electroshock, drugs and other “treatments” primarily based on whether or not they had immediate family members who might come to their defense or protection, said one source who worked at the facility.
Rod Vienneau said Quebec psychiatrists viewed these children, who most often came from the province’s poorest families, as “unwanted.” They emptied Quebec’s orphanages, he said, “sending the ‘unwanted’ children to the psychiatric hospitals where psychiatrists could do any experiment that they wanted to do on 100,000 children — and no one would know.” (See “He Had No Brain!”.)
Evidence suggests that many boys and girls became victims of a psychiatric eugenics* program with connections to prominent members of the U.S. and Canadian psychiatric establishments.
“Defectives” was the sweeping label that Canadian psychiatrist Charles Kirk Clarke, a founder of the Canadian Mental Health Association, applied to immigrants from eastern and central Europe.10 Another Canadian eugenicist, Helen MacMurchy, a provincial “inspector of the feeble-minded,” campaigned for sterilization to prevent certain mothers from “filling the cradle with degenerate babies.”11
Freedom addressed this subject in a 1996 cover report in its Canadian edition entitled “The Ethnic Cleansing of the ‘Mentally Unfit’ — Sterilization in Canada.” The authors wrote, “The tools of the eugenicists thus became immigration controls, birth control, sterilization and finally euthanasia as carried out by the Nazis,” noting that the first three methods had been employed in Canada — resulting in, among other things, the involuntary sterilization of thousands of women, many of them Canadian Indian or other minorities.12
With fresh allegations now surfacing that many Duplessis Orphans died or disappeared, the fourth item on the eugenicists’ agenda, euthanasia, certainly warrants official investigation.
“They Were Allowed
to Kill Defenseless Children”
Indeed, the bodies of hundreds or even thousands of Duplessis Orphans, buried near Quebec psychiatric hospitals, may today hold the key to documenting what survivors have called "organized psychiatric genocide."
Montreal attorney Daniel Lighter suggested that Quebec officials permit exhumation of bodies buried on hospital grounds to determine to what extent Orphans may have been used for psychiatric experimentation, including lobotomies, electroshock and mass drugging.
"One can certainly argue that a free society has a responsibility to unearth the good, the bad and the indifferent of its past,” Lighter told Freedom. “There is certainly a compelling amount of evidence, even outside of a courtroom, to justify looking again at this case.”
At every step of the way, the Orphans’ treatment was guided by the hand of psychiatry. Documents obtained by Freedom reveal connections between the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Quebec psychiatric facilities where Orphans were incarcerated. As far back as 1922, photographs and other evidence show a relationship between these facilities and the APA.
In 1954, for example, the APA recognized Montreal’s Verdun Protestant (now Douglas) Hospital for “notable achievements” in research. Freedom asked APA spokesperson Jason Young what this research entailed, but as of press time, had not received an answer.
The APA imprimatur raises questions as to who benefited from the Orphans’ false internment and why, said Lighter.
"It’s a very strange link to have the APA accrediting hospitals in Quebec. Why would that be?” he asked. “It suggests that the APA was not only intimately involved but that they were coordinating the experiments. It certainly begs questions and those questions deserve answers."
A documentary that aired in September 2004 on Quebec television station TQS reported there had been roughly 300,000 children in total; 200,000 of those were adopted, while 100,000 were held in orphanages, ready for adoption but never taken. These, reporter Gary Arpin implied, were the Duplessis Orphans.
One Orphan, Jean-Guy Labrosse, 66, today a retired construction worker, authored a 1964 book about his years in Quebec institutions, My Dog’s Life, which helped to bring abuses to light. "How many of my fellow [Orphans] have died, and have gone missing?” he asked in an interview with Freedom. “And when I say missing, I mean missing without a trace. In Quebec, they were allowed to kill defenseless children.”
Rod Vienneau estimates that at least half of the Orphans incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals died or disappeared in those institutions. “If somebody disappeared, it’s because somebody got rid of the person,” he said. “They were killed or murdered.”
* British psychologist Francis Galton coined “eugenics” from the Greek eugenes, meaning “good in stock” or “well-born.” Galton’s theories on eugenics were, in turn, forwarded by psychologists and psychiatrists. In Germany, for example, Galton’s work was used by psychiatrist Ernst Rudin and others to provide the impetus for racial hygiene and genocide programs.