Acknowledge the Past

We must acknowledge the past in order to regain trust and to seize the future.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

HIV Children and Orphans are Defacto Test Subjects

Children with HIV are increasingly finding that their status is that of involuntary research subjects, not victims. In December 2004, for example, the journal Nature Medicine reported that since the early 1990s, HIV-positive orphans have been the subjects of “dozens of national clinical trials run by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and other [New York City] area hospitals.” Mammoth pharmaceutical corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of zidovudine, have sponsored the testing of antiretroviral and other pharmaceuticals on scores of HIV-infected orphans housed in New York City’s Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC). This institution for the HIV-infected is run by Catholic Charities in Washington Heights…

Some of the candidate AIDS medications are being tested to determine their toxicity. Children as young as four were given cocktails of up to seven potent medications, although physicians are normally reluctant to give young children even approved powerful medications. Little if any benefit accrued to the infants from these risky exposures, because although some were HIV-positive, they were too young to have developed AIDS. One study is of “Stavudine…Alone or in Combination with Didanosine,” a combination that has killed adult women. An experimental vaccine administered to children as young as twelve months utilizes “live chicken pox virus,” even though it can trigger the disease itself. A study titled “HIV Levels in Cerebrospinal Fluid” required that infants undergo a spinal tap, a risky, invasive, and painful procedure. There was even a study on HIV-negative children that used an experimental HIV vaccine. By law, such a nontherapeutic study on healthy children can convey only minimal risk, but the vaccine’s risks are unknown.

Also, some of the experiments did not involve HIV therapeutics: One drug trial tested a herpes medication “for tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic” information; another investigated reactions to a doubled dose of measles vaccine—in six-month-old infants.

For its part, Columbia University released a statement denying that the drugs’ side effects were serious enough to warrant discontinuing treatment. However, this should have been the parents’ call, not the university’s or the ICC’s. But guardians and parents who adopted HIV-infected children have found the ICC, ACS, and researchers arrayed against them when they have tried to take children off medications they found to be harmful.

In explaining her take on this struggle, Dr. Painter has said, “We’re having an increase in referrals over the last years to deal with medication adherence. There are a fair number of children whose HIV illness may be well controlled but whose families are experiencing difficulty complying with the child’s medication regimen.” By “referrals,” Painter means children who are torn from parents and returned to the various agencies when these parents and guardians balk at dispensing the investigational drugs.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

People Cheaper Than Cats

…the array of electrodes that Bailey and Heath devised and then implanted into the brains of black subjects for as long as three years each. The team used the electrodes to deliver charges to the limbic system of the brain. This group of related brain structures includes the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the septum, which are key to emotions and judgment. By stimulating these areas, Bailey evoked pleasure, pain, joy, anger, sexual arousal, and other powerful emotions in his black subjects at will. The electrodes were designed to facilitate stimulation of the brain’s “pleasure centers” either by a remote operator or by the subject himself, using a transistorized “self-stimulator” unit worn on the patient’s belt. Bailey did some of these experiments on black prisoners in New Orleans’s Louisiana State Penitentiary but made no mention of how he gained access to other hospitalized patients for such experiments or whether any sort of consent had been sought. Neither he nor Heath ever mentioned what they told the patients. But Bailey reminisced about his methods at Tulane when speaking to a group of nurses in Chelmsford, back in his native Australia, twenty years later,

“I was working in America in New Orleans, there was experimental work being done there on cats, where they found that if you put electrodes down on the anterior part of the brain, in the septal region between the two hemispheres and down, right deep down, sort of here, put electrodes in here, that you struck a [inaudible] which had something to do with screwing and orgasm and pleasure and satisfaction. And if they put a wire in this and took it out and put it on to a push button, the cat would very quickly know that if it pressed the button, it got a little “chop,” and this was a sort of a little orgasm. And so the cat would go “pop” again, and get the taste of it, and the cat would go “pop, pop, pop, pop.” Here was something important. What did you make of it? So, in New Orleans, where it was cheaper to use niggers than cats, because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals—there wasn’t much working there, the people we have been picking for the operation has [sic] really been at the bottom of the can. Nothing is going to help them—shoot them is the only thing—so they started to use them, Negroes—patients in hospitals—and so, the same area, little box, was put on their paws with a button. They just went around, “pop, pop, pop,” all the time, continuous orgasms…”

After his return to Australia, Bailey opened a “deep sleep therapy” clinic for depression and a wide variety of other psychiatric complaints at Chelmsford Hospital in Sydney, which he operated between 1963 and 1979. The deep sleep therapy technique is a misnomer for patient abuse that Bailey practiced by placing thousands of patients with a wide variety of psychiatric symptoms into a barbiturate-induced coma for two weeks, during which time he administered repeated electroshock therapy and implanted electrodes and even metal plates into many of their brains, without their knowledge or consent. Many patients deteriorated dramatically, but they learned only years later from news accounts what their doctor had done to them. He sexually abused some of the women patients. Scores of patients died, although Bailey concealed the true number by arranging for many worsening patients to be shipped off to other hospitals, where they died without ever regaining consciousness.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Nazi vs American Medical Experimentation

Quote 1:

n 1947, the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg charged Nazi doctors with war crimes, including experimentation upon prisoners of war. The Germans’ ably conducted defense hinged upon Dr. Gerhard Rose’s contention that U.S. doctors were guilty of exactly the same abuses—regularly subjecting prisoners to dangerous, painful involuntary experiments. The trials culminated not only in the conviction and execution of many accused physicians but also in the Nuremberg Code, which was devised to govern future medical experimentation.

In The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code,24 George Annas and Michael Grodin analyze how U.S. investigators rejected Nuremberg and replaced it with naught but hollow assurances that American medical researchers needed no such constraints.

Quote 2:

Poverty, not criminal behavior, is the most common feature of the imprisoned. Jails are full of people, both guilty and innocent, who are there only because they are too poor to make bail. By the 1970s, most prisoners in Holmesburg, for example, were legally innocent men awaiting trial. Between the 1940s and 1970s, bail bondsmen typically would spring an inmate for a down payment of 10 percent of his bail, so that a man jailed in lieu of a five-hundred-dollar bond could buy his freedom within weeks with the fifty dollars he earned from a single medical experiment.

Quote 3:

Most people don’t realize that prison medical research, which all but died out in the 1970s, is enjoying a quiet renaissance. Since the late 1980s, investigators in Arkansas, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have been conducting and proposing research in prisons.

Most of these researchers are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which, for example, supports the Yale School of Medicine with $178.7 million and the University of Miami Medical Center with $191 million….Dr. Joseph Zwishenberger’s radical new approach to lung cancer, which is to heat the subjects’ blood to a temperature where the errant cancer cells theoretically would not thrive. To test his theory, he sedates inmates and connects them to a machine called the BioLogic HT System, which removes blood via venous and cervical tubes. The blood is heated, then returned to the inmate’s body, which is kept at a very dangerous elevated temperature of 108.5 degrees. Any adult taken to a hospital with a temperature of 105 degrees would be considered an emergency case and cooling strategies would immediately be undertaken, but in Zwishenberger’s protocol, inmates’ 108.5 temperatures are sustained for two hours.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Safety Changes

Cettie’s room at Fog Willows was above the kitchen, and it overlooked the entire manor. It had belonged to her tormentor, Mrs. Pullman, years ago, and she’d worried bad memories would assail her. But Mrs. Harding, who had fulfilled the duties of keeper after Mrs. Pullman and before Cettie, had worked some sort of magic on the place. She had completely redecorated it and even turned the drafty, dusty garret above the room into a pleasant space with windows and rugs and end tables and small bookshelves. The space that had once belonged to Cettie’s enemy, the woman who’d attempted to control and quiet her, was now her safe haven.

Iron Garland (Harbinger Book 3), by Jeff Wheeler

Children as Test Subjects

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research concluded in 1977 that children were an especially vulnerable population because they could not offer consent. Yet, children today are more likely to become research subjects now that federal policies begun in the mid-1990s have changed the face of the “typical research subject.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Revitalization Act mandated the inclusion of women and minorities in all research in 1994 and added children in 1998. So far, the new FDA and NIH policies have placed stress not on protecting children but on ensuring children’s access to research—unfortunately, this too often means researchers’ access to children. This is an ominous paradigm shift for black children, who already are overrepresented in nontherapeutic and stigmatizing medical research.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Brain Surgery for Docility

From the 1960s through the early 1970s, disenchantment with the widespread use of tranquilizers fostered interest in brain surgery as an alternative to “quiet” patients. University of Mississippi neurosurgeon Orlando J. Andy, M.D., capitalized on this trend, performing many types of brain ablations, including thalamotomies (destruction of the thalamus, which controls emotions and analyzes sensations), on African American children as young as six who, he decided, were “aggressive” and “hyperactive”…Today, Andy is revered as a neurosurgical pioneer, one whose work was never challenged in his lifetime and who never suffered any disciplinary action…brain destruction was employed not only for misbehaving black boys but to ensure the docility of prisoners and, in the 1960s, as a government-funded cure for urban rioters. Three American physicians proposed that such urban uprisings were caused by men who could be cured by psychosurgery. Dr. Vernon Mark, director of neurosurgery at Boston City Hospital, and his colleagues Drs. Frank Ervin and William Sweet swept aside social factors such as poverty, slum housing, and poor education in a 1967 proposal in the Journal of the American Medical Association: The obviousness of these causes may have blinded us to the more subtle role of other possible factors, including brain dysfunction…The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration granted the three surgeons $600,000 for brain research on urban rioters.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Radioactive Experiments on Orphans

Vanderbilt University physicians administered radioactive cocktails to pregnant women in Nashville. The University of Chicago fed the radioactive elements strontium and cesium to 102 unwitting patients at state schools. One Dickensian institution, the Fernald School in Waltham, Massachusetts, added radioactive oatmeal to the menus of thirty orphans in a program sponsored by the AEC with the support of the Quaker Oats Company. Old videotapes reveal that some of these Fernald boys were African American, but no records with racial identifiers were ever released. When victims died, government scientists obtained their bodies and autopsied them carefully, measuring the levels of radioactivity and biological damage. To enable large numbers of these grim assessments, at least fifteen thousand bodies were exposed and collected for one project alone: Operation Sunshine. Until the mid-1980s and without the knowledge of patients or their next of kin, this program shipped the bodies and body parts of radiation experiment victims to be dissected at headquarters in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

Drunk on Power

For a long time, I just figured that my parents’ friends were a bunch of sick rich pedophiles enamored of the 1960s and 1970s cinema genre of witchcraft and the Devil, like the popular Vincent Price movies portrayed at the time. Often referred to as “happenings,” during these events, drunk, drugged-out narcissists paid my parents to do what they wanted with my siblings and me. (All three of my siblings are much older than I.) For many years into my young adulthood, I thought that the satanic stuff was basically their one step beyond hedonism. Bored, rich, and demented beyond reason, they assumed that my father in his high priest red robes (signifying blood sacrifice) would be their fall guy if the group were exposed. Both of my parents participated in orgies involving children, which was instrumental to Omaha’s “happenings.”

…Rich, affluent, and powerful, my parents and their friends held beliefs that were well thought out and complex. Doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, high-ranking businessmen, and politicians—the people involved were community pillars, wealthy, well educated, well connected, and completely drunk on the power their group wielded.

…As a child, I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening because I couldn’t trust who was involved and who wasn’t, and what was happening was so crazy that I figured no one would believe me even if I told. People were adept at looking away, fearing they would somehow become involved in things too sordid to speak publically about.

Rabbit Hole: A Satanic Ritual Abuse Survivor’s Story by David Shurter

Stalking and Social Engineering: Wheel-of-Slander

Abusive individuals, stalkers and criminals specializing in destroying or selling human beings (e.g., human traffickers, pimps, etc.) all have one primary goal: isolate the target. The wheel-of-slander is one of many methods commonly used to isolate a victim while simultaneously convincing other people that the victim ‘deserves’ whatever horrible crimes the stalker or criminal chooses to perpetrate.

Establishing Trust

This technique does not require establishing a level of trust. It only requires identifying established gossips and their hot-button topics.  A period of observation and casual interaction is usually sufficient.

Initiating the Gossip

The stalker approaches the gossip with ‘news’ about the target, who just happens to be [hot button issue]. The stalker purposely crafts an enticing story, specifically designed to get the gossip emotionally involved in attacking the target. The story leaves out all concrete evidence, details about the stalker and the source(s) for the ‘facts’ provided. Instead, ‘proof’ is provided in common everyday actions and interactions, such as: the way the person walks or speaks, the type of clothes they wear, their physical address or even the color of their eyes/skin/hair.

The less concrete or valid the evidence, the more effective the gossiping campaign. This is because the people who enjoy verbally attacking another person (just for fun) will jump in and elaborate, while individuals who are more naïve will begin to believe that these things truly are concrete proof of [hot button issue]. Sadly, the individuals who see through this game will often remain silent and watch it play out from a distance, out of fear of becoming a target themselves.

Wheel-of-Slander

After the first gossip has been inspired to act, the stalker locates the second gossip with a different hot-button issue and proceeds to create an equally fictitious story about the target. This second gossip proceeds to spread vicious rumors with loose (at best) and completely irrelevant (at worse) indicators of ‘proof’ that the target is [second hot button topic].

Sadly, most people will not consider how highly improbable it is for multiple extreme accusations levied at a single individual to contain any amount of verifiable truth. In fact, the accusations could completely contradict one another, and the crowd-response will usually consist of a poorly defined sense of fear and revulsion that can best be defined as this is a bad and dangerous person – stay away.

Common slanderous accusations used during a Wheel-of-Slander assault in the United States:

  1. Abuser (e.g., Child, Animal, etc.)
  2. Criminal Activity (e.g., They claim to be trustworthy, but they are really [hot button issue] – they just haven’t been caught yet)
  3. Cultural Heritage (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  4. Dating or ‘Interest’: (e.g., They claim to be single or in a relationship, but they are really dating or trying to date [hot button issue])
  5. Drug or Alcohol Addiction (e.g., They deny it, but they are really getting high/drunk in secret – they make sure no one sees them buying or using the stuff.)
  6. Hate Group Association (e.g., They deny it, but they are really a member of [hate group])
  7. Mental Illness (It’s important to note that ‘crazy’ never has to be proven, it only needs to be stated. Most people will believe another person is ‘crazy’ based on rumor alone.)
  8. Physical Illness (stigmatizing)
  9. Political Affiliations or Beliefs
  10. Racial Heritage (e.g., They look [race], but they are really [race])
  11. Secret Religion (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  12. Sexual Identity (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  13. Stalking (e.g., They claim to be dealing with a stalker, but they are really the stalker themselves.)
  14. Witchcraft (It’s important to note that the beliefs behind the Salem Witch Trials perpetuate in the present day – people actually believe witches are real and must be eliminated through lynching.)

(This list could contain hundreds of examples, but you get the idea.)

Exercise: Randomly select four (4) numbers and pull those items off the above list. Put that list together into a single description. Imagine being the victim and trying to address any one of these assaults. How would you make sense of what people are saying and why? Now try to imagine creating a method for addressing the problem. Where do you go? Who do you confront? Who do you sue for slander?

Spotting Manipulation

Gossip is never factual. People who regularly participate in gossip do so for the thrill of destroying another human being. Therefore, gossips are inherently unethical and untrustworthy individuals. It is important to learn to recognize when this behavior is occurring and call it out for what it is.

Facts are verifiable. Human beings are creatures of habit, and most people say and do things that are logical – or, at least, follow a well-defined pattern. This makes fact-finding reasonably easy – as long as the person researching the facts is sincerely looking for FACTS instead of ‘proof’ for what they’ve already decided to be true.

  • Always question gossip.
  • Always question inflammatory statements.
  • Always question ‘facts’ provided without clear or verifiable proof.