“While masquerading as more humane and medicalized, such coercive modalities nevertheless further reinforce the systems, structures, practices, and policies of structural oppression....” – Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 2022
CCHR International fortifies its commitment to cleaning up the field of mental healing amid the current dangerous trend in psychiatry—psychedelics, forced treatment and targeting minorities.
By CCHR International
The Mental Health Industry Watchdog
April 7, 2022
Citizens Commission on Human Rights reviews some of the psychiatric experiments that have reinforced its 53-year commitment to cleaning up the field of mental health. As a watchdog, it has documented abuses that when exposed have led to nearly 200 legislative protections being enacted worldwide. In 1969, CCHR was formed in alignment with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its own authored Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights. A United Nations Special Rapporteur described the necessity of the laws CCHR has helped obtain as legislating against practices that would have “inhibited even more the rights of patients, or would have given psychiatry the power to commit minority groups and individuals against their will.” CCHR has increased its commitment to achieving this, with the threat of psychiatry looking to a future of psychedelic drugs being approved as general treatments. Already there are unregulated ketamine infusion clinics opened throughout the country—essentially legalized mainlining clinics.
In this climate, there is a risk that minority groups, such as African Americans will be targeted and psychiatrists are seeking broader involuntary commitment and community treatment orders to enforce forced drugging and other hazardous practices.
CCHR’s self-guided museum, “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” lays the basis of its concerns about this. Situated at its international headquarters on Sunset Blvd, it includes 14 mini-documentaries featuring more than 150 health care professionals, attorneys, professors, and human rights advocates. Several deal with psychiatric racism and the involuntary commitment and restraint deaths of patients, among them African American teens. CCHR’s international website, www.cchrint.org flanks the museum with contemporary comments on mental health issues, including African Americans potentially being the target of the new psychiatric hallucinogenic drugs trend.
The late Thomas Szasz, professor of psychiatry and co-founder of CCHR, was emphatic about forced treatment, stating: “Involuntary mental hospitalization is like slavery. Refining the standards for commitment is like prettifying the slave plantations. The problem is not how to improve commitment, but how to abolish it.”
No federal data set appears to track commitments, UCLA researchers report. Only one national estimate was located by them in an article based on data from a survey of 544 psychiatric and general hospitals, from which it was estimated that 26% of 1.17 million inpatient admissions in 1980 that were “involuntary noncriminal commitments” or 442,000. The 2020 UCLA study found that in 24 states—accounting for 51.9% of the U.S. population—591,402 emergency involuntary detentions were recorded in 2014, the most recent year with most states reporting.
African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented in institutions with substantial representations of individuals said to be mentally ill. In New York State, where Kendra’s commitment law is enacted, racist court-ordered involuntary treatment is rampant and individuals are subjected to the spuriously named, “Assertive Community Treatment” programs, described as “one of the most coercive and intrusive psychiatric programs coordinated by New York State.” Nearly half (45%) of people subjected to these forced treatment orders are Black 36% are White and 17% are Hispanic.
In 2022, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics published a report describing involuntary commitment in the country’s healthcare system as carceral (punitive, prison-like): “While masquerading as more humane and medicalized, such coercive modalities nevertheless further reinforce the systems, structures, practices, and policies of structural oppression and white supremacy.” Outpatient treatment relies heavily upon psychotropic drugs.
With moves to introduce psychedelic drugs into the arsenal of current failed psychiatric treatments, the numbers of Americans dependent upon psychotropic drugs can only be compounded by the reintroduction of LSD, psilocybin and other hallucinogenic chemicals. The public and consumers should be informed of the controversial history of these drugs which preempts doubt about the motif behind the current psychedelic push.
- A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) memo dated December 3rd, 1955, noted that the Agency had “carried out a program of research” into “the nature of the abnormal behavior produced by LSD…We have established that individuals may develop a tolerance to LSD.” [Emphasis added]
- In 1953, CIA director Allen Dulles ordered the establishment of MK-Ultra, a clandestine research program that included the “administration of LSD to unwitting individuals,” according to the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities in its 1975 investigative report. Thousands of American (and Canadian) citizens were dosed with LSD without their knowledge or consent, and disproportionately targeted those “who could not fight back,” as one CIA official admitted. “Overwhelmingly, the African American victims of MK-Ultra were drawn from prisons and hospital mental wards,” according to a March 22, 2022 article in The Nation.
- “Black Americans were uniquely exploited during this first wave of psychedelic research,” concluded the authors of a 2021 University of Ottawa study of abuses in the early trials of LSD. Dana Strauss, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Ottawa and a coauthor of the study, noted: “Whether or not those researchers were explicitly targeting Black Americans, they drew their participants mostly from prisons where Black Americans were overrepresented because of racism in arrests, charges, incarceration, and sentencing.” Further, “participants were subject to differential and torturous treatment and dosing dependent on race.”
- In the 1950s the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Addiction Research Center (ARC) in Kentucky tested LSD and some 800 other psychoactive drugs on an inmate population that was almost exclusively Black. Harris Isabell, a pharmacologist, conducted the research on African Americans which was on par with Nazi human experiments. Described in a 1977 New York Times article as an “eager experimenter” for the CIA, Isbell was the research director at ARC when MK-Ultra launched. “The deal was pretty simple,” Dominic Streatfeild, author of Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control, wrote. “The CIA needed a place to test dangerous and possibly addictive drugs; Isbell had a large number of drug users in no position to complain.”
- Drug-addicted African Americans were given LSD at the center, where some were kept hallucinating for between 77 and 85 consecutive days. At this same center, healthy African American men were used in the 1960s as test subjects for the experimental military agent, “BZ”, described as a “central nervous system depressant,” which was 100 times more powerful than LSD. “BZ” was also used as part of the now condemned South African Defense Department bioweapons population control experiments conducted on Blacks in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s.
- Isbell, who was given the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Award in 1962 for his work, would tell a Senate subcommittee investigating the clandestine LSD and other experiments in 1975: “…I personally think we did a very excellent job.”
- In 1955, the CIA struck a deal with the chair of psychology at Tulane University’s Dr. Robert Heath. Using CIA funds, Heath conducted nonconsensual experiments in 1955 and 1956 on Black inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary, giving them LSD and bulbocapnine, a drug that in large doses, a CIA document noted, induced “catatonia or stupor.” The CIA wanted to learn whether the drugs would result in “loss of speech, loss of sensitivity to pain, loss of memory, loss of willpower and an increase in toxicity in persons with a weak type of central nervous system.”
- Heath also worked with notorious Australian psychiatrist, the late Dr. Harry Bailey who developed the now banned “deep sleep treatment.” Bailey and Heath performed psychosurgery experiments on African American prisoners. Later, CCHR worked with a whistleblower nurse from Chelmsford private psychiatric hospital in Sydney, Australia who orchestrated and recorded Dr. Bailey lecturing staff on his horrific experiments with Heath, arrogantly and dismissively describing how “It was cheaper to use n****rs than cats, because they were everywhere, and they were cheap experimental animals.” Bailey boasted the people he picked for psychosurgery were, “the bottom of the can. Nothing’s going to help them, shoot them is the only thing.”
- The U.S. Army conducted Cold War drug experiments in the 1960s under Operation Third Chance, deployed primarily against unknowing Europeans abroad. The only American dosed with LSD was James Thornwell, a lone Black soldier at his station in France. Thornwell had been accused of stealing classified documents and was subjected for more than three months to an interrogation in which he was “physically abused,” “terrified with threats of…death,” and “degraded by a steady stream of verbal abuse, including racial slurs and accusations of sexual impropriety,” by members of the Army Counter Intelligence Corps, according to his legal complaint. He was surreptitiously given LSD he was not informed of and experienced “extreme paranoiac reaction” that was “almost incapacitating.” An officer on the intelligence team concluded that the Army had “satisfactory evidence of subject’s claim of innocence” from the sadistic session. Four months later, Thornwell was given a general—though not honorable—discharge. In a 1979 lawsuit, Thornwell said the experience had turned him into “an isolated social and emotional cripple.” He described a life of headaches, depression, and nightmares. During the trial, evaluating psychiatrists unanimously concluded he suffered from “severe psychiatric disorders.” In 1980, Congress publicly apologized to Thornwell and granted him a $625,000 payment. Four years later, he drowned after a suspected epileptic seizure.
- LSD was also used as an adjunct to interrogation that even intelligence officials expressed concern that LSD, coupled with the stress of a real interrogation, could cause “chemically induced psychosis in chronic form,” or other permanent adverse effects. As the LSD achieved its peak effect, the interrogators’ techniques grew increasingly harsh, to cause maximum anxiety and fear. As The New Yorker reported in 2012, “There were also some unexplained reactions, affirming LSD’s capacity to trigger infinite behavioral variation.”
CCHR in South Africa also exposed racist research and experiments during apartheid, testifying before a special medical apartheid abuse hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997.
The TRC also investigated the South African Department of Defense front company, Roodeplaat Research Laboratory (RRL), established in 1983, which was originally established to conduct research into trauma and traumatized patients but then under “Project Coast” tested and produced biological weapons aimed at population control of Black South Africans. 
Archbishop Desmond Tutu who headed the TRC, said: “Dastardly in its concept and execution, Project Coast was a reflection of the inherent evil of apartheid.”
Project Coast (1981 – 1993) was headed by Wouter Basson, a cardiologist known as “Dr. Death,” and directed the clandestine program which involved:
- Plans for epidemics to be sown in black communities. Staff were ordered “to suppress population growth among blacks” and to “search for a ‘black bomb,’ a biological weapon that would select targets based on skin color.”
- The development of a drug to make Blacks infertile.
- “Race-specific bacterial weapons” to sterilize South Africa’s non-white population.
- Production of chocolates and cigarettes infected with anthrax, beer bottles containing botulism, and sugar laced with salmonella.
- Production of drugs, including ecstasy and Mandrex (Mandrax, methaqualone, Quaalude, a barbiturate-like sedative often prescribed for insomnia and anxiety)
Another front group, Lifestyle Management, conducted physiological and psychological research related to chemical and biological warfare.
It behooves all to seriously question current psychedelic research, including on African Americans and Black populations. Given the sordid history of psychedelics used to abuse such populations, psychedelic substances should not be approved for treatment of “mental disorders.”
- In 1970, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ketamine as an anesthetic which was mainly used on the battlefields and in operating rooms. However, it was then used off-label (not FDA-approved) for treatment of mental disorders, especially depression and can cause disassociation. Like opioids, ketamine can be addictive. Overdoses can, in rare cases, be fatal. Ketamine is known for its abuse potential as a “club” and “rape drug,” where victims are drugged and then often “forget” specifics of the assault.
- In 2019, the FDA approved a nasal spray, esketamine (Spravato), which is molecularly similar to ketamine, to treat depression. Esketamine comes with a prominent FDA warning: “Patients are at risk for dissociative or perceptual changes after administration.” The dissociation can include difficulty with judgment, attention and thinking.
- Despite ketamine not being FDA approved to treat mental “illness,” there are hundreds of unregulated ketamine clinics in the U.S. delivering “ketamine infusion therapy” for depression and other “disorders.” Costs range from $300 all the way up to $2000 per infusion. From 2015 to 2018, the number of clinics increased from 60 to 300; that number is undoubtedly higher today.
- One company that opened its 6th ketamine clinic in 2021, made $2 million a year in revenues. As one international law firm put it, “there is no FDA regulation on point for the control and oversight of ketamine clinics, it’s “dealer’s choice” on how the business is operated– including patient safety protocols.”
- South Africa also has ketamine clinics for mental health treatment.
- The New York Times reported that psilocybin is being considered to treat addiction, while conceding that psilocybin has “downsides.” It stated, “Even in the supervised setting of a research laboratory, users often experience side effects, such as vomiting or loss of coordination, and the trip itself can produce anxiety, pain or even a psychotic break.”
- Peter Hendricks, a psychologist who studies psilocybin and addiction at the University of Alabama in Birmingham warned that people shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. “The existing treatments are very ineffective,” he said. “I’m hoping to go from pretty darn ineffective to not bad or decent.” Note: cures are not an objective.
Racism and discrimination in the U.S. have continued with eugenics, an immoral and pseudoscientific theory that certain people are genetically inferior. An April 4th, 2022 article on this issue, published in PsychCentral quoted Andreu Gibson, a behavioral technician based in North Carolina, who noted: “Black people, Black minds, Black bodies have been used as scientific experiments, and the echoes of that remain. It’s not just echoes and shadows — it still happens to this very day, just in different ways.” Gibson further explains that sometimes, racial bias begins with the intake process. They explain that “the age-old notion of ‘Black people are less than,’ ‘Black people are subhuman,’ ‘Black people are incapable of control’” are damaging narratives that create and uphold bias around how the pain and emotions of People of Color are addressed in healthcare settings.
The global mental health market was valued at a hefty $383.31 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach $537.97 billion by 2030. Psychedelics add a potential $7-$10.7 billion to the market, although, according to one market research agency, it could be closer to $70 billion. This is a sizeable incentive for the psychiatric industry marketing hallucinogens on the heels of COVID-19 being called a “mental health pandemic.”
Psychedelics are on a fast track to becoming a commonly accepted “chemical treatment.” The FDA has officially given out three breakthrough therapy designations to three different companies studying either psilocybin or MDMA. A 2017 breakthrough therapy title was given to the organization MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) for its research into MDMA for PTSD. The FDA went a step further than simply giving it the title to speed things along. When it came time for MAPS’ phase III trials, they were designed with help by the FDA.
As for a motif (outside of profits), consider that in 1967, the future of chemical mind-menders was mapped out when a group of psychiatrists and doctors met in Puerto Rico, funded by a grant from NIMH. This was at a time when there was an explosion of LSD and other hallucinogenic drug use in society, before it was banned because of its risks. The conference results, published in a book, Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000, noted this, stating that, already, “…major efforts [had been] initiated by the pharmaceutical industry to look for new chemical substances which would have mind-altering properties.” But this could be “almost trivial when we compare it to the possible numbers of chemical substances that will be available for the control of selective aspects of man’s life in the year 2000.”
It was ominously predicted that the result would be a “pill-taking culture with a drug of choice for all ages,” including “‘mind-expanders’ for the youth….”
And here we are.
With psychedelic drugs formally approved by the FDA, the next step is making it such a “standard of practice” that it can then be forced on individuals through coercive involuntary commitment and outpatient treatment orders.
 Erica Daes, Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Commission, 1986
 Gi Lee, et al., “Incidences of Involuntary Psychiatric Detentions in 25 U.S. States,” Psychiatric Services, 3 Nov. 2020, https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201900477
 Lonnie R. Snowdon, “Bias in Mental Health Assessment and Intervention: Theory and Evidence,” Am. Journal of Psychiatry, Feb. 2003, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447723/
 Lauren Tenney, Ph.D. “End Kendra’s Law Now: Racist, Classist Practices in Involuntary Psychiatry Persist,” Mad in America, 17 July 2019, https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/07/kendras-law-racist-classist-involuntary/
 R. Wahbi, L. Beletsky, “Involuntary Commitment as “Carceral-Health Service”: From Healthcare-to-Prison Pipeline to a Public Health Abolition Praxis,” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 2022, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Involuntary-Commitment-as-%E2%80%9CCarceral-Health-From-to-Wahbi-Beletsky/530aacc19a5ccbd78eb5d44a142e458b475ee47a
 Allen Dulles, “Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Dulles to Secretary of Defense Wilson,” 3 Dec. 1955, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1950-55Intel/d244
 Kali Holloway, “The Secret Black History of LSD,” The Nation, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/lsd-acid-black-history/
 Kali Holloway, “The Secret Black History of LSD,” The Nation, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/lsd-acid-black-history/
 https://www.cchrint.org/2021/03/02/cchr-warns-against-7-billion-psychedelic-drug-push-to-treat-mental-issues/ citing: “Dr. Harris Isbell’s experiments,” AHRP, 18 Jan. 2015, https://ahrp.org/dr-harris-isbells-experiments/; https://pages.uoregon.edu/munno/OregonCourses/REL253F12/REL253Notes/BZStory.htm; Op. cit., The Nation, 22 Mar. 2022
 Chandré Gould, Peter Folb, Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, 2002, https://unidir.org/publication/project-coast-apartheids-chemical-and-biological-warfare-programme
 Op. cit., The Nation, 22 Mar. 2022
 John O’Neill and Robert Haupt, “Psychiatry Gone Mad: ‘We Want Justice,’” The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July,1988.
 Op. cit., The Nation, 22 Mar. 2022; Raffi Khatchadourian, “High Anxiety: LSD in the Cold War,” The New Yorker, 15 Dec. 2012, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/high-anxiety-lsd-in-the-cold-war
 Ibid., The New Yorker, 2012
 “Interview with Dr. Dann Gosden, Robdeplatt Reaseath Laboratories,” PBS Frontline, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plague/sa/goosen.html
 Op. cit., Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme…, Foreword by Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus
 Salim Muwakkil, “Biowar and the Apartheid Legacy,” In These Times, 28 May 2003, https://inthesetimes.com/article/biowar-and-the-apartheid-legacy; Samuel Warde, et al., “Meet Dr. Wouter Basson, The Ecstasy Cook Who Tried To Commit Genocide — And Got Away With It,” ATI, 13 Feb. 2020, https://allthatsinteresting.com/wouter-basson
 Jerome Amir Singh, “Project Coast: eugenics in apartheid South Africa,” Endeavour, Vol. 32, No. 1, Mar. 2008, https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/attach/169/169033_ProjectCoastEugenics.pdf
 Op. cit., Samuel Warde, et al.
 Suzanne Daily, “In Support of Apartheid: Poison Whisky and Sterilization,” The New York Times, 11 June 1998, https://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/11/world/in-support-of-apartheid-poison-whisky-and-sterilization.html; “TRC Scientist van Rensburg,” OoCities.org, https://www.oocities.org/athens/rhodes/1266/historical-Scientist.htm
 Op. cit., Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme…
 Robert C. Meisener, M.D., “Ketamine for major depression: New tool, new questions,” Harvard Health Blog, 22 May 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketamine-for-major-depression-new-tool-new-questions-2019052216673
 Brendon Borrell, “The Next Big Addiction Treatment,” New York Times, 31 Mar. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/31/well/mind/psilocybin-mushrooms-addiction-therapy.html
 https://www.cchrint.org/2019/06/26/cchr-warns-about-antidepressant-nasal-spray-esketamine-spravato-use-on-veterans/ citing: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320409.php
 https://www.rxlist.com/spravato-drug.htm; https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-nasal-spray-medication-treatment-resistant-depression-available-only-certified
 Taneasha White, “Racism in Mental Health Care: Where Are We Now?” PsychCentral, 4 Apr. 2022, https://psychcentral.com/health/racism-in-mental-health-care
 https://www.cchrint.org/2021/03/02/cchr-warns-against-7-billion-psychedelic-drug-push-to-treat-mental-issues/ citing: Derek Beres, “How will psychiatrists administer psychedelic treatments?” Big Think, 1 Feb 2021, https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/psychiatrists-psychedeli-therapy; Rustam Yulbarisov, “LSD Capitalism Promises a Bad Trip for Us All,” Jacobin, 2 Apr. 2022, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2022/04/lsd-capitalism-psychedelics-mdma-ketamine-companies-medical
 Wayne O. Evans Ph.D., Nathan S. Kline, MD, Psychotropic Drugs In The Year 2000 Use by Normal Humans, (Charles G. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Ill, 1971), pp. ix-xiii
 Ibid. p. xix
 Ibid. p. xiii
 Ibid. p. xx