The Weyburn Mental Hospital opened in 1921 and quickly became one of Canada’s most notorious psychiatric institutions. It was the site of lobotomies, electric shock therapy, and some of Canada’s controversial LSD experiments. It was here that Dr. Humphrey Osmond coined the word “psychedelic” and was among the first to administer LSD in psychiatric experiments.
Between 1953 to 1960, thousands of alcoholics were dosed with LSD under controlled conditions. Curiously it wasn’t a complete failure, and half of the dosed alcoholics remained sober over a year later. The experiments at Weyburn also piqued the interest of the CIA, who hoped to use LSD as a truth serum. This would eventually lead to the CIA’s infamous MK-Ultra program, which attempted mind-control and chemical interrogation partially through the use of LSD.
Insulin therapy was another common treatment at the time. Doctors incorrectly believed that large doses of the hormone could “reboot” patients. There was also water therapy, where patients had to soak in a cold bath for shock or a warm bath to calm down, and electric shock therapy.
In 1971, the Weyburn Mental Hospital closed its doors and patients were transferred to other institutions. The hospital was officially closed in 2004, and the building demolished in 2009.
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