The Daily Agenda for Friday, March 29
March 29th, 2013
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
Inducing Hallucinations to “Cure” Homosexuality: 1962. Ever since Ivan Pavlov taught his dog to salivate whenever a bell was rung, Behavioral Therapists employed all sorts of adverse stilumi to produce a conditioned response in their patients which would represent a desired change in behavior: smoking cessation, giving up alcohol and other drugs, or stopping being gay — as though being gay was nothing more than behavior. And as far as Behavioral Therapists were concerned, being gay was just behavior and nothing more. (See Blind Man’s Bluff for a more complete explanation of Behavioral Therapy and its history.) And ever since Louis M. Max invented a device for delivering non-lethal doses of electric shock (see Mar 11), Behavioral Therapists have deployed any number of punitive methods designed to “cure” their patients of their homosexuality (see Jan 18, Jan 20, Jun 3, Jul 26, Oct 30, Dec 8), and our award-winning investigation, What are Little Boys Made Of?).
But among the cruelest methods for attempting to “cure” gay people must be the one described by the University of Edinburgh’s Dr. Ian Oswald, in which he used a combination of aversion therapy and induced hallucinations to try to cure one of his patients of the gay. (His other six patients were two rubber fetishists — one apparently gay and one straight — three alcoholics, and a married cross dresser.) The aversion therapy portion of the treatment was literally retching: Oswald administered two-hourly injections of apamorphine, a powerful emetic which induced violent vomiting and, in some cases, diarrhea. This was already a relatively common form of aversion therapy, but for Oswald’s experiments, the vomiting and depletion of electrolytes had the additional effect of making his patients dizzy and lightheaded. The patients were also injected with pilocarpine nitrate, which causes heavy salivation and sweating and, in some cases shortness of breath. Oswald never does state why he injected his patients with pilocarpine nitrate, but it might have been to create a simulated panic sensation in his subjects. He also gave his patients small doses of dexamphetamine, a stimulant, which he used to induce a condition of sleep deprivation in his patients.
All of that pharmacology was in the service of creating a condition in which his patients could be induced to experience auditory hallucinations when a tape loop was repeatedly played for hours on end. His goal was to create a state of mind similar to that of paranoid schizophrenia. Here is how it went for a patient identified as Case 5:
Case 5. A homosexual male aged 25 under the management of Dr. W. D. Boyd. The patient’s tyrannical father died when the patient was 15. The mother, to whom the patient was closely attached, was a drunkard, a spiritualist and a Lesbian. Elder brother had never engaged in honest work. No family history of mental illness.
Homosexual relationships began at the age of 14 and included frequent brief affairs in public lavatories and several long love-affairs. He had married at 19 and had two children. He came for treatment to try and salve his marriage, for he had been living away with a man for eight months. He was usually a passive partner, principally interested in fellatio. He was greatly excited by male urine and sometimes drank it.
Aversion therapy was embarked on with some reservations. A 30-minute interview in which he described his homosexual practices was tape-recorded. Every two hours he received apomorphine by injection and then the tape-recorded interview was played through a loud speaker. Glasses of urine were sometimes placed by him. In the intervals the following tape loop was played; “It makes him sick, it makes him sick, Sex with men? Oh, it makes him sick now. He gets sex with men. It must make him sick now. He’d meet men in the lavatories. Ugh. Sex with men makes him sick. He looks at men’s bodies. It must make him sick now.” (One male voice). Four seconds pause.
He received pilocarpine nitrate 1/20 grain once on the first day and once on the fourth, and dexamphetamine sulphate 10 mg. each night. Fluid and electrolyte depletion were prevented as with the other patients and serum potassium and sodium remained within normal limits, though the CO2 combining power rose to 33@5m.Eq./L. and chloride fell to 96 m.Eq./L. on the fourth day, having remained within normal limits previously.
He experienced the words of the tape-loop changing from the first day and throughout the four days’ treatment. The changes never had any great significance for him, seeming merely trivial or absurd. He could not voluntarily re-experience what was actually played through the loudspeaker. The changes were experienced by day and night throughout the four days and three nights of treatment.
At times he wrote down the various phrases he heard, which included:
“I like it thick my bacon thick. Sanford man, what makes it him sick now. He has Sangford man. They musta made a mistake now. They’ll need 8 men in the lavatories. Sangford man makes it sick. Be a good man Sportis? Do not make sick now. I’ll knock him sick. What makes him sick now. Enough with men’s bodies. Bolton quick it’d make you sick. Sex written in. He’s got six sick men, that must make him sick now. He’d eight men in the lavatories. Sax written back Matron’s sick. Hey’n they’ve got nice bodies. But you mustn’t make them sick now.”
After the end of treatment on the fourth day he wrote of his most recent auditory experiences:
“This impression of the tape-recorded message was not written down in detail at the time I heard it because I was quite convinced that it really was a separate recording, and I accepted it as such without question. I remember that the dialogue seemed much briefer and with longer pauses than the original recording, also the intonation seemed different. While listening, my mind’s eye formed a picture of the characters involved in this little ‘sketch’. One person monopolized all speech on a telephone while his weak-stomached friend sat immobile in a bath-chair. The man on the ‘phowne would jokingly say he had ‘mixed bodies’ (sweets?) then say something quietly to the effect that he had better not say that as it might make ‘him’ (the bath-chair sitter) sick. There would then be a deep belching sound not before heard on the recorder and the person on the ‘phone would say, ‘He’s sick now,’ or words to that effect. Then after a pause, very loudly, ‘Oh, we’ve made him sick, we’ve made him sick,’ then carry on more normally asking after the health of two friends with strange names I cannot remember. The dialogue would then come round to the part about ‘mixed bodies’ and carry on repeating endlessly the same sickly tale. If I remember correctly these variations in the recordings always came after I’d snatched a little sleep. They never changed while listening and no effort would make them sound like the original recording.”
A month later the patient reported that he had had one attempt at sexual relations with a man but had stopped because he felt feelings of revulsion and physically sick. Within two months, however, he had left his wife and gone off to live with a man.
As for the other patients, Owens claimed success with the three alcoholics, but only one of the two fetishists — the other rubber fetishist had “formed a friendship with a male homosexual (but had not had sexual relations with him” — while the cross-dresser, “in the 8 month since, he has dressed-up in female clothes on many occasions.”
[Source: Ian Oswald. “Induction of illusory and hallucinatory voices with consideration of behaviour therapy.” Journal of Mental Science 108, no. 453 (March 1962): 196-212.]
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