Psychiatric doctors condemned for experiments on patients
By Mark Bonokoski
June 29, 2020
Elliott Barker – Psychiatrist
A landmark judgment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has finally found a number of psychiatric doctors in a decades-old case liable for assaulting patients, including subjecting them to torture and mind-altering drugs like LSD.
Financial damages are expected to be in the multimillions, with the recipients being some of the vilest serial killers, psychopaths and sadists imaginable.
The assaults on them, as described in the just-released 311-page judgment, took place in the Oak Ridge wing of the old Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, once the hospital’s maximum-security section for violent patients found not guilty by reason of insanity, or not criminally responsible in today’s vernacular.
Their treatments were lauded in its early days as a possible breakthrough in curing psychopaths and violent schizophrenics.
The class action lawsuit included 31 plaintiffs who were a part of the rather bizarre programs run at Oak Ridge between 1966 and 1983, a physically grim maximum-security section of jail cells, locked wards and grey paint reminiscent of the cold environs of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The plaintiffs were all part of the social therapy unit.
Some of the programs run by Dr. Elliott Barker and Dr. Gary Maier included solitary confinement as both a treatment and a punishment, the administration of hallucinogens and delirium-producing drugs, and implementation of brainwashing methods developed by the CIA.
Three programs in particular had some very twisted plots.
There was defence disruptive therapy, which involved forcibly giving hallucinogenic drugs to break down the patients’ defence mechanisms and make them to confront their abnormal behaviour.
The motivation attitude participation program saw patients compelled to maintain perfect behaviour for 14 days. In one component of this program, patients were forced to sit on a bare floor with hands cuffed, only allowing them to move four times within four hours in a confined space of about a square metre. Failure meant forced sedation or solitary confinement.
Third was the capsule program.
This involved chaining up to seven patients together, stripping them naked and keeping them in that state for days at a time. Adding to the misery, the room was continuously lit and featured holes in the walls through which occupants were fed only liquid foods through straws.
It was a class action suit that involved high-profile Toronto lawyer Daniel Brodsky, a longtime advocate for jailed mentally ill patients, because this case began when he was an articling student at the law firm of Ruby and Edwardh and it was set to go on for decades, wending its way via a justice minister’s review to the final arbiter of the Ontario Superior Court.
“The plaintiffs did very bad things when they were ill, but they were not specimens to build careers on,” Brodsky said.
“Several of them have died waiting for this judgment including the one (for whom) the case is named after, a client of mine named Reg Barker.
“My clients will be compensated because their caregivers were found liable for damaging human beings who were treated egregiously like guinea pigs or specimens,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if they were pedophiles, sadists, necrophiliacs or Black.”
In February 1968, Reg Barker killed a 31-year-old secretary at his workplace with an iron pipe and admitted to it with absolutely no concern for the victim. He knew her, had met her two young children, but still no response.
Dr. Elliott Barker, in a paper published in 1968 during the program’s initial years, raised the spectre of emulating Nazi experiments on human beings but said his own experiments were different.
That alone is scary enough.