January 18

Experimental lobotomies at NYS Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University

Dr. Paul H. Hoch, a psychiatrist who trained in Germany and came to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa, gained immigrant status with legal assistance by John Foster Dulles (future Secretary of State and brother of Allen Dulles). From 1948 to 1955, Hoch served as Director of experimental research at NYSPI. Prior to his appointment to NYSPI, Hoch headed the Manhattan State Hospital Shock Therapy Unit; and was chief medical officer for war neuroses for the U.S. Public Health Service. At NYSPI, Hoch conducted covert brain damaging experiments on unwitting mental patients, subjecting them to injections of high doses of hallucinogenic drugs, such as mescaline and LSD causing an “immediate, massive, and almost shock-like picture with higher doses.” He then lobotomized some of the patients in order to compare the effects of acid before and after psychosurgery. Hoch is quoted stating: “It is possible that a certain amount of brain damage is of therapeutic value.” (Lee and Shlain. Acid Dreams, 1985) For decades, Columbia and NYSPI denied any CIA connection, but CIA documents refute those denials.


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