Support the news
WBUR announces Madness, a special investigation from Endless Thread, the podcast created in partnership with Reddit. Madness unravels the shocking story of forced brainwashing and the murky history of CIA-funded mind-control experiments. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, along with producer Josh Swartz, investigate how the trust we place in doctors and medical institutions combined with a stigma around mental illness can silence the truth — and ultimately, accountability for disturbing outcomes.
Madness, the new, five-part investigative series will launch this April. The podcast will resume with its regular weekly podcast programming after the series, exploring some of the internet’s most compelling stories from Reddit’s passionate network of communities.
“We’re delving into the question the world’s top scientists and most powerful government agencies have been trying to answer: Can the human brain be reprogrammed?” said co-host Johnson. “Today’s world is blurring the lines between what is real and what feels like a hallucination. Conspiracy theories about the secret operations of our own government and the intentions of outside forces bump up against credible threats of domestic corruption and international interference. Sometimes we all feel like we’re going a little bit crazy. But is today really all that different from recent history?”
Psychiatrist Dr. D. Ewen Cameron led the Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, in the 1950s and 60s. Cameron was at the top of his field at the time, leading both the American Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association. Little did the families whose loved ones were sent to Allan Memorial know that Cameron's patients would be subject to grueling experimentation involving long periods of induced sleep and heavy use of electroshock therapy and psychedelic drugs.
Meanwhile, in America, the CIA was conducting its own brainwashing experiments on unwitting human guinea pigs. It was later uncovered that Dr. Cameron's work in Montreal was being partially funded by the CIA. Now, 50 years later, the families of Dr. Cameron's victims are finding each other, organizing, and bringing lawsuits against the Canadian and American governments.
Co-hosts Johnson and Sivertson interview families, legal experts, and historians about the dark history of government-supported brainwashing experimentation and the consequences it continues to have in society. Discussions around MK-ULTRA on Reddit, including in the r/askhistorians community, inspired the series theme.
“Passionate, thoughtful conversations happen every day on Reddit, and we're excited to partner with WBUR on this new season of Endless Thread to bring those discussions and communities to life," says Alexandra Riccomini, Senior Director of Business Development & Media Partnerships at Reddit. "We've watched Redditors dive deep into the history of MK-ULTRA over the years and look forward to kicking off the new season with this special investigation from WBUR's ace team of journalists."
To listen to or learn more about the Endless Thread podcast, please visit https://www.wbur.org/endlessthread.
Listen to the audio trailer of Madness by Endless Thread here:
About Endless Thread
Hosted by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson and produced by WBUR, Endless Thread delves into Reddit’s boundless communities, exploring some of the most compelling stories the internet has to offer. Naming the show among the best podcasts of 2018, TIME declared, “The show promises to develop into a worthy rival of Reply All and This American Life.” And, according to The Guardian, Endless Thread “is cult listening for anyone who is interested in being interested.”
This post was updated with a change in the launch date and schedule. We will continue to update this post with new information soon.
This article was originally published on March 13, 2020.
Support the news