Disposable Minds, Expendable People
by C. G. Rossi
As a young girl, G. C. Rossi must contend with a mother prone to violent outbursts. Even so, she’s able to enjoy life with the help of a loving father and a great imagination. But everything changes when her father dies. At just ten years old, she becomes a ward of the state; when she contracts hepatitis, she is hospitalized and sinks into depression. Her condition becomes so serious that she is transferred to the Allan Memorial Institute. One of the institute’s doctors, Ewan Cameron, is working with the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct mind control experiments on patients. He has a number of foot soldiers working on his behalf; as a result, for the next three and a half years, G. C. is pumped full of drugs. This account reveals serious flaws in the medical and psychiatric systems. While the world may have thought that experimenting on people ended with the Nazis, the story told in Exploitable Minds, Expendable People shows that the past may continue to haunt unsuspecting, innocent victims. (amazon.com)
Hey look! A book review-post-thing! Yay! *throws confetti*
Of course this isn’t the most uplifting book to be writing about. Disposable Minds is the true account of one woman’s horrific experiences as a child and teen – that happened right in my own city! Though the memoir isn’t particularly well written and is quite repetitive a times, I honestly didn’t focus on that very much because the story itself, the memories that were put down in writing were the real reason I read this book.
I don’t think this is a history I was ever taught in high school. I know I didn’t pay much attention back then, but if it had to do with mental illness I would have. In fact, I didn’t even know about this horrifying experimentation until I read an article online about a month ago. Where I work, we get sent these daily digest emails called In the News with links to articles related to our University and other of-interest items. I happened to actually read through one of them (normally I skim them before I forward to our own internal mailing list) and an article caught my eye – it lead to me this book.
Oddly, or not, I couldn’t get a copy of this book in Montreal. I think because the city is likely embarrassed by the scandal they caused in the 1950-1960s. My own employer was involved in this as well. It’s sickening. A dear friend of mine, and coworker, said she actually did a paper on this when she was studying History in University, that’s how she found out about it. I guess unless I took specific History courses in University there was no way I would know about it myself. It doesn’t seem to be on the high school history curriculum. It should be though.
Reading about hospitals that I know and have gone to, as well as about my own University, being a part of drug experimentation on unsuspecting people was just disgusting and terrifying. That the governments (provincial and federal) would be a part of something like this is disturbing.
I have had my own negative health care experiences, but nothing, NOTHING compares to what Ms. Rossi and others must have gone through. To be given away by her mother, kept captive by the hospitals and kept in a state of illness just to justify running more and more tests! I can’t fathom the horror. I can’t. This sounds like something you’d read about in a dystopian novel or see in a movie. It doesn’t sound like something that could actually happen.
It’s embarrassing to find out that your own city could be part of something this atrocious. To the author of this memoir and to all the other unsuspecting human lab rats, my heart goes out to you. You are brave and courageous to fight back even after all these years. I wish I could right the wrongs you suffered, but I can’t go back in time and fix things.
I do know that I now need to read In the Sleep Room by Anne Collins now – if I can find it in print.
Disposable Minds is powerful, shocking and horrifying yet fascinating at the same time. I am glad that C. G. Rossi put her memories down on paper for the rest of us to learn from.