Dr Angus MacNiven, Gartnavel, LSD, Mind Control & Human Experimentation #Sco


Holyrood inquiry to probe historic CIA-backed human brainwashing experiments

THE Holyrood inquiry into historic child abuse will be asked to investigate Scottish links to an infamous CIA-backed brainwashing programme, the Sunday Express can now reveal.

Sun, Apr 5, 2015

Gartnavel Royal Hospital in GlasgowIt is known that experiments involving LSD were carried out at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow

Scots-born psychiatrist Donald Ewen Cameron became notorious for his role in the top-secret MK Ultra programme, running experiments in orphanages and psychiatric hospitals in Canada in the 1950s.He used LSD, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), insulin-induced comas and repetition to try and erase memories – a technique the CIA hoped to develop into a weapon in the Cold War.
When details of the MK Ultra project emerged in the 1970s, it caused a huge public outcry and led to both the US and Canadian governments paying out compensation to hundreds of victims.
Now campaigners in Scotland are to come forward with sensational claims that similar experiments were also being carried out on this side of the Atlantic.
Last night, one abuse survivor said: “The similarities are unbelievable, the drugs programme, the experimentation – we were also doing these things in the 1950s here in Scotland, allowing this deplorable behaviour by the medical elite.”
One medic likely to be named by the campaigners is Dr Angus MacNiven, who trained alongside Cameron at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow and went on to become one of the most eminent figures in Scottish medicine.
However, this newspaper has seen evidence that at least one patient died while being experimented on under his care. Cameron, who was born in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, emigrated to America in the 1920s, but remained in contact with his former colleagues in Scotland throughout his career. The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde archives contain a file of correspondence between Cameron and MacNiven, who was Physician Superintendent at Gartnavel from 1932 to 1966.
The correspondence covers the years 1924 to 1959 but it has been closed to the public for 75 years, along with the rest of MacNiven’s staff papers.
In July 1959, Cameron told a medical conference in Glasgow about his research into how “exposure to repetition of carefully worded statements” could change the personality.This was the “brainwashing” or “psychic driving” procedure at the heart of MK Ultra, which has since been described as a form of “medical torture”.The topic has featured in books and movies such as The Manchurian Candidate and The Men Who Stare At Goats.

In his book A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, the American academic Alfred William McCoy wrote: “Stripped of its bizarre excesses, Cameron’s experiments… laid the scientific foundation for the CIA’s two-stage psychological torture method.”

The survivor – who asked not to be named for legal reasons – said of MacNiven who died in 1982:  “The man was out of control and out of his depth and what he was doing in that hospital was absolutely appalling.” 

It is known that experiments involving LSD were carried out at Gartnavel. Drug-induced comas, ECT, and “restraint and seclusion” were also commonplace in many asylums.

However, the suggestion that children were being used as guinea pigs in a programme linked to the British or American secret services is certain to prove hugely controversial if discussed at the inquiry. These experiments were kept hidden from the public eye and they were happening in places all over Scotland

Frank Docherty

The claims were revealed by this newspaper in December and now form part of the official submission to the Scottish Government from the In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) group.

It states: “The Inquiry should also review medical experimentation that was carried out on vulnerable children, and adults without consent.”

Alan Draper, the Incas Parliamentary Liaison Officer, said: “I’ve heard that name [Dr MacNiven] mentioned on a number of occasions. “I know that the legal people involved do have the relevant files, although the files do have a tendency to disappear.” One of the problems we want the inquiry to consider is the destruction of records.” For example, many medical files from Lennox Castle Hospital in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, where some of the experiments are said to have taken place, were destroyed in a fire. However, the British Journal of Psychiatry archives do contain evidence of patients being “selected” for experiments at Gartnavel.

In 1936, MacNiven published a report of an experiment where 40 asylum patients – some of them suffering from “melancholia”, or depression -– were kept in a drug-induced state of sleep for 10 to 14 days. One woman developed pneumonia and died, although in his report MacNiven denies it was linked to the injections of somnifaine – a powerful barbiturate. He also reports that a man suffered a “cardiac collapse”. One man’s temperature hit 104C, prompting MacNiven to note: “We felt it unwise to continue treatment in this case.” 

MacNiven also gave permission for two drug trials involving schizophrenics, which set out to “deliberately provoke neurological disturbances”.Both studies, in 1963 and 1964, resulted in “disturbing” side-effects.

No ages for patients are given but another Gartnavel study sanctioned by MacNiven in 1966 involved two 17-year-old “schoolboys”.

Incas president Frank Docherty, from East Kilbride, who first exposed the issue of abuse in Scottish children’s homes more than 15 years ago, said: “These experiments were kept hidden from the public eye and they were happening in places all over Scotland.

“The number of victims could run into thousands.”

The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability has estimated that up to 12,000 children with learning disabilities spent time in residential care up to 1981.

Although it is not suggested that all were subjected to medical experimentation, the campaigners insist that a significant number would have experienced unwanted drug testing. The Scottish Government said yesterday the inquiry’s chair and remit would be announced “by the end of April”.

A spokeswoman for the health board added: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on allegations that happened many years ago.”


Feature: The Mind of a Killer – the Peter Manuel case

Prison photograph of Peter Manuel, 1946 (NAS ref. HH16/290/1)

Recent media interest has centred on the convicted murderer, Peter Manuel, who was executed in July 1958. Manuel was hanged in Barlinnie prison in Glasgow almost 50 years ago, following trial and conviction for the murder of seven people in the West of Scotland.

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) holds many records about the Manuel case, in particular the investigation by the police and his prosecution by the Crown Office, his trial at the High Court of Justiciary in Glasgow in May 1958 (during which he dismissed his counsel and conducted his own defence) and Manuel’s prison files. The case serves as a good illustration of how the NAS works under Freedom of Information legislation to allow public access to government and court records of serious crimes and criminals, while protecting the interests of victims of crime under Data Protection legislation.

Most of the records relating to Manuel and his crimes have been open to the public for many years, although a small number remain exempt or restricted, and are therefore closed to public inspection. One prison file contains a series of medical and psychiatric reports into Manuel’s mental condition (NAS ref: HH60/703/1). Much speculation at the time centred on Manuel’s state of mind and his fitness to plead, amid claims that he suffered from a form of epilepsy. Allegations have since circulated that somehow this was hushed up and that the authorities were keen to have Manuel hanged, negating any defence of diminished responsibility. The medical reports confirm Manuel underwent extensive testing, was considered fit to plead, and was consequently subject to a sentence of execution.

A report dated 20 February 1958, by a Dr John Gaylor, was of the opinion that the electroencephalogram (E.E.G.) performed on Manuel “does not indicate any particular pathological state. Such a record as he has shown, even with the stimulation of hyperventilation, might well be displayed by a person without any history of epilepsy, amnesia or violent behaviour.”

Medical report by Dr David Alexander Robertson Anderson, Medical Officer, Barlinnie Prison, 29 Jan 1958.
Psychiatric report by Prof Thomas Ferguson Rodger, 18 Feb 1958
Medical reports by Dr John Baxter Gaylor, 20 Feb 1958 and undated.
Psychiatric report by Dr Hunter Gillies, 26 Mar 1958.
(NAS ref. HH60/703/1 (part 1) Acrobat PDF – 2.16MB, opens in new window)

Medical report by Dr Angus MacNiven, 28 Mar 1958.
Report by [AB Hume] of the Manuel Case and post-trial medical report on Peter Manuel in Barlinnie prison by Dr Anderson, Dr Inch, Prisons’ Medical Adviser, and Dr Boyd, Scottish Home Department’s Consultant Psychiatrist, 23 Jun 1958.
(NAS ref. HH60/703/1 (part 2) Acrobat PDF – 1.93MB, opens in new window)

First report of Medical Commissioners, HB Craigie and Laura MD Hill, on Peter Manuel, undated. Provides summary of previous medical and psychiatric reports, and account of further examination on 26 Jun 1958.
(NAS ref. HH60/703/1 (part 3) Acrobat PDF – 1.91MB, opens in new window)

Second report of Medical Commissioners on Peter Manuel, undated. Account of examination on 30 Jun 1958.
Report on the mental condition of Peter Thomas Anthony Manuel by Dr Angus MacNiven, 30 Jun 1958.
Submission to the Secretary of State for Scotland, John Maclay, by William Stuart Murrie, Secretary, Scottish Home Department, 2 Jul 1958.



Manuel: Bright, good family and ‘not insane’, said psychologist 12 JUL 2008 UPDATED  1 JUL 2012

MANUEL was examined on many occasions and there was never any suggestion that he was insane.

Prison medical reports after his arrest described him as “not feeble-minded” and “above average intelligence” and fit to plead.

In a psychologist’s report compiled by Glasgow University, expert Thomas Rodger in February 1958 he told how Manuel spoke of his family background and praised his upbringing.

The report reads: “He states that his father and mother have always been good to him and until he was 14 he was never separated from them. They were respectable people who, in his opinion, gave him adequate care. The explanation of his behaviour, he says, rests in the fact that he is a dishonest person and that some people are made that way.” Rodger added: “I was surprised by the fact that a man facing such a charge was remarkably relaxed and at ease and, at times, even jovial. I pointed this out to him but his answer to this was that while it might seem to an outsider that he was in a difficult position, he had no doubt he would vindicate himself without any trouble when it came to the trial. He seemed to me to be sane and showed no abnormality of mind amounting to or bordering on insanity.”

The following month, February 1958, a medical report by neurologist Dr John Gaynor, revealed that during an air raid towards the end of the Second World War, Manuel had been struck by a piece of steel from a blast bomb and the shrapnel has entered his skull at the right forehead.

He also suffered a serious electric shock in Borstal.

He had no memory of that day and had suffered occasional memory losses and black-outs since. A psychiatric report by Hunter Gillies of Glasgow University in March 1958 found Manuel showed “no signs of mental disease”.

Gillies added: “In my opinion, the accused man is sane and fit to plead. I find no evidence his responsibility is diminished by any disease of the mind.”

Dr Angus MacNiven filed another report later in March after five meetings with Manuel and his father Samuel, mother Bridget and sister Teresa. Samuel said his son was a “model boy in the house” but “rather difficult to discipline”. Bridget said he was “full of mischief” and while he was affectionate to his parents she never felt she had his complete confidence. Manuel never discussed his criminal background with his mum, she said, and she also described him as “hard core somewhere”.

His sister Teresa, a certified mental nurse, had a clear opinion. The report states: “She had always thought the accused was a psychopath. When I asked her why, she said he was indifferent to other people’s opinions.”

She once went to the procurator fiscal when he was detained and asked that he should be certified insane.

Manuel once threatened her with a bread knife during an row.

The report goes on: “Two nights before his arrest, the accused’s home was being kept under surveillance by the police. She said the accused appeared to be in a state of frenzy and he took hold of a poker and said he was going to assault the police.” The doctor added: “The accused is quick and alert and appears to have a remarkable memory and gives what appears to be a lucid and connected narrative of events leading to his arrest. He never hesitates in his speech and is never at a loss to remember a detail. He tells a story in a remarkably detached manner never showing any emotion and speaking as if the experiences were describing were someone else’s and not his own.”

Manuel also claimed police were keen to pin the Lanarkshire murders on him as he had successfully defended himself against an assault allegation in 1955.

The report states Manuel said: “They are out to destroy me – and I am out to destroy them.”

The doctor adds: “My own opinion is that the accused does come within the category of a psychopath. My opinion is that the accused is sane and fit to plead.”

In June 1958, medical staff at Barlinnie prison reported on Manuel.

The prison governor told them Manuel had “taken the verdict and sentence with equanimity and remained self assured and jaunty”.

But by Friday June 20 there was a major change. Manuel appeared to be feigning madness by acting strangely and adopting peculiar habits.

Warders noticed his “madness” got worse when senior figures were around.

Experts decided his behaviour was a “hysterical reaction” to his predicament.

In a second report on June 30 experts agreed Manuel’s behaviour was “consciously motivated” and “not a manifestation of insanity”.

That final report cleared the way for the execution.

‘His sister Teresa, a certified mental nurse, always thought he was a psychopath because he was indifferent to other people’s opinions’


Dr A MacNiven, formerly physician superintendent of Gartnavel Royal Hospital and consultant psychiatrist to the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, died on 2 January aged 83. Angus MacNiven, the son of a farmer on Mull, was educated at Oban, Dumfries, and Glasgow before going on to Glasgow University, where he graduated MB, ChB in 1923. After house officer posts in the Western Infirmary he specialised in psychiatry, gaining experience with Adolf Meyer at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and becoming senior assistant medical officer at Cardiff City Mental Hospital. He was deputy physician superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital from 1927 until 1932. In that year he became  physician superintendent of Gartnavel Royal Hospital and consultant psychiatrist to the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, and he continued in those high and demanding offices for 33 years. He was lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. Angus MacNiven was proud of his Hebridean origins and that Gaelic was his first language. Many years ago he commenced in English a serious lecture to a Celtic society with the words, “I speak to you in what for me is a foreign tongue.” He was known as the man who in bowler hat rode his horse in the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital, bearing a Gargantuan umbrella and perusing the papers of the day. When taxed with this by the sceptical he would most logically reply, “Would you not do the same if your horse needs exercise, it’s raining, and you have to read masses of paper ?” In his dealings with patients and relatives and in clinical teaching he was superb. His technique was individual but invariably the epitome of kindness and consideration. He combined in his own unique, courteous, and modest way exceptional intellectual gifts and warmth of personality. Dr MacNiven served in high office both on the local regional board and in the Royal Medico-Psychological Association, being chairman in Scotland and president for Great Britain and Ireland from 1959 to 1960. He was made a foundation fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1971 and was an honorary fellow of the college. Dr MacNiven believed deeply that if someone was really ill room should always be made for him in hospital. He held the view that overcrowding never really kept anyone from getting well who would do so. On the other hand, he held that keeping a very ill person wrongly out of hospital could upset a whole family as well as endangering the life of the patient and the lives of others. He was sympathetic to all points of view provided they were within reason, sincerely held, and not detrimental to the interests of the patient. He was a man never to be underestimated in his intellectual range, for his erudition extended far beyond medicine to literature, history, and the arts. His whimsical imaginative humour and innate modesty made him popular with all ages. Angus MacNiven retired to his native Mull, where it was far from unknown for him to do milk and paper rounds on his motor bicycle to help out those whom he described as “poor old souls.” Thus in his latter years, which were destined to be clouded by lingering illness and discomfort, his main concern was, as always, for others. He maintained an interest in many things especially gardening and Gaelic history. His sister Mary predeceased him two years ago.-MMW.

Univercity of Glasgow

Material relating to Angus MacNiven

Angus MacNiven fl.1965
Dr., Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow.

MS Laing – Papers of Ronald David Laing
Papers of Ronald David Laing.

MS Laing G General correspondence of Ronald David Laing
General correspondence of R.D. Laing.
MS Laing GW144
Letter from Dr Martin M. Whittet to R.D. Laing. May 1965. Invitation to retiral dinner for Dr Angus MacNiven of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Typescript. Includes reply  http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/gghb/collects/hb26-pfv.html


Psychic driving was a psychiatric procedure in which patients were subjected to a continuously repeated audio message on a looped tape 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 to subdue them for the purposes of exposure to the looped message(s). The procedure was pioneered by Dr. D. Ewen Cameron, and used and funded by the CIA’sProject 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 medical doctor from Beirut who was seen as epitomizing medical torture. Aziz al-Abub, also known as Ibrahim al-Nadhir, was known for using his medical training to refine torture techniques. His techniques were shown to be closely connected to the CIA-developed torture techniques.[1] As with the CIA, he used drugs to make it easier to handle those he tortured, carefully determined how long to keep a prisoner hooded and when to isolate them and other techniques seen as medical torture.

The topic of psychic driving is dealt with in some detail in the docudrama entitled The Sleep Room (1998) directed by Anne Wheeler.[2] 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 LSD). 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.[3] 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)[4] for its involvement and funding of Cameron’s experimental activities — as part of the MKULTRA program.[5]



You’ve heard of lottery fever, even lottery mania? Now comes lottery stress disorder.

Dr. Robert Hunter, a psychiatrist at the Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow, said he’s discovered an outbreak of lottery-losers suffering from “deflation of mood and feelings of hopelessness,” leading to inebriation.Translation: They get drunk every week after failing to become millionaires.

“We have noted several cases of this compulsive behavior in the clinic and are at a loss to know how to help the sufferers,” Hunter said in a letter to be published in Saturday’s British Medical Journal.

“We have given the condition the provisional name of lottery stress disorder, or LSD.”

Hunter wrote the letter to elicit responses from other psychiatrists who may be treating similarly affected individuals. Britain’s national lottery opened in November, with odds of about 14 million to 1 against winning the jackpot.

Considering that 24 million to 30 million Britons – about 60 percent of the population – buy tickets every week, Hunter has a hunch LSD may be fairly common disorder. He describes the typical patient who “despite the unrealistic odds . . . experience the delusional belief that great riches are about to befall him or her . . . and often makes extraordinary spending plans.”

When the fantasy shatters, the patient typically “seeks relief in the ingestion of excess alcohol.”

Dr. Lawrence Price, a psychiatrist at Yale University, said the syndrome does not exist in lottery-crazed America. SOURCE

{LSD? Gartnavel? How blatant is that? SHAMEFUL}

Related links


Dr Angus MacNiven

 Detailed Description of this material

Archives described on the Archives Hub are held in repositories across the UK

Reference Number(s) GB 812 HB13/20/144
Dates of Creation 1926-1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Administrative / Biographical History

Appointed Physician Superintendent in 1932, succeeding Dr David K Henderson who went on to become Physician Superintendent of Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Mental Disorders.


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