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Science and Ethics as Presented in Colin Ross

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The C.I.A Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists

            Science and ethics seem to act as siblings with opposite views and dispositions. One cannot live or find it hard to live in the presence of the other. Both have colliding principles which are almost impossible to settle and to solve.

Probably it only will only depend on the perception and understanding of the people on how they will react to these two opposing matters. Which side are they going to take? Which side are they going to give more importance? Or will they find the necessary solutions on how to balance the two in their lives?

            Today in the modern age, science seems to rule more over ethics. Various cases of moral issues and ethical concerns are being carried against certain actions, processes, and products of science. Most of the time, the main concern of those people opposing a certain aspect of science is the latter’s very own way of conducting its experiments. Issues on human rights violations are one of the top topics being criticized when conducting such scientific experimentations.

            This same issue was tried to address by psychologist- writer Dr. Colin Ross. In his book The C.I.A Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists, he attempted to present the debatable issue of human rights violation when conducting experiments. More specifically, he gave an account of these violations, pointing the issue to some American psychologists who have committed the abuse.

About the Book

The C.I.A Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists, a written documentary of Dr. Colin Ross, is an account of true- to- life cases of violations of human rights occurred during the past 65 years in America. Ross has acquired the 15, 000- page of documents that he used in the writing of the book through the Freedom of Information Act. The files he obtained from the C.I.A proved that indeed there were cases of human rights violation committed by American psychologists.

One of the greatest revelations presented in the book was the topic about the Manchurian Candidate. According to Ross, the Manchurian Candidate was not just a work of fiction but a factual account. Most of these violations include manipulation of people’s minds through conducting hypnosis, setting up amnesia, and altering codes in the memories of the subjects to create new identities for them.  The book also revealed that these experiments were actually funded by the C.I.A., the U.S. Military, and the U.S. government, with full participation of leading experts in the field of psychology, psychiatry, neurosurgery, pharmacology, and medicine.

            With these revelations, Ross has stirred in the minds of his readers the questions that were initially posted at the start of the paper. All these questions may branch out farther and larger but still they will fall under on main topic: the debate between the limitations of science in relationship with human morality.

Following my own dispositions and stand regarding the issue, I will try to tackle the things presented by Ross in his book. Two main topics were salient and can be found after reading the text: first, the current status of science in the United Sates; second, the current status of morality in the United States.

Science in the United States

            Clearly, United States of America is one of the countries having the most advanced technology and developments in science. It is from this country where brilliant minds and inventions were born. It is also leading in terms of research and experiments. As of now, most of these research projects are being sponsored by private sectors. However, the U.S. government also shares for the funding of some scientific experiments being conducted in the past and in present days.

            Although most of research and experiments are being funded privately, the U.S. government, nevertheless, has a great control over the country’s technological advancements. As presented by Ross in the book, the Manchurian Candidate was actually sponsored by the government, together with the military and the C.I.A.

            Human rights violations that were projected in the book, I can say, have something to do with the political and social affairs of the U. S. government. The violations were raised when human mind manipulation started to serve the objectives of the government. Take for example the Manchurian Candidate.  In fiction, this is a story of a man who was used and manipulated by his mother to serve the purpose of the Communist Party where she belongs. Through brainwashing and use of drugs, he was able to serve the party as an assassin.

This kind of mind manipulation was given more emphasis and further description and explanation by Ross. According to the book, the subjects underwent a certain C.I.A process called depatterning. Here, the subjects will suffer massive amounts of drug-induced sleep, sensory isolation and deprivation, and electroconvulsive shocks to let them be in a vegetable state. Once depatterned, they will not be able to eat, urinate, and even state their own identity such as name, age, sex, and location (p.  124). From this state, the subjects will go under narco-hypnotic process where they will be given new identity and memory. From these, violent crimes and illegal actions can be actually ordered for them to perform. One example that Ross has mentioned is the tendency of the subjects to activate time-bombs when a particular word or code is uttered. (pp. 46-47)

As mentioned before, these mind manipulations are not necessarily used for mere scientific purposes. It is evidently seen that they are used to serve and to accomplish certain political goals. It is therefore concluded that science, in this particular situation, serves not as a means for providing easy living to the people. It is used, rather, as a way to give people sufferings and to subject them to abuse.

Ethics in the United States

Why does this kind of human rights violations happen in the United States? What are the factors that might have a direct effect regarding the issue?

In my own point of view, culture has also something to do with the occurrences presented by Ross in his book. United States is not only a leading country in terms of scientific innovations and developments but also in terms of hybridity of traditions. It is known to be the center of the world—business, science, academe, economics, arts, and almost all fields of knowledge. It is therefore understandable that the country’s population is a mixture of various races and nationalities. With this, a blurring of principles, values, and philosophy among these races take place. Morality is therefore a loose-defined subject matter.

This probably is the reason behind the incidence of human rights violations committed by some American psychiatrists. Ethics maybe no longer part of the lives of the American people. I maybe wrong with this claim. However, evidence such as The C.I.A Doctors by Ross can be used to back-up the claim. The said psychiatrists and other medical practitioners are actually blinded when they decided to cooperate in such kinds of activities. These activities are not just mere experimentations. Humans are not created to be used as experimental specimens that can be altered and controlled if someone likes them to. In the book, Ross has described fully the processes that a subject for mind manipulation undergoes. According to him, after the subject has given a new identity, most of which as a terrorist, he will be tortured to test his belief in his new identity that he will confess. This is not only for those who torture him but also to the people whom he might meet in the public. Ross also added that these tortures are included during interrogation wherein the subjects are put into test to know the status of their amnesia and implanted memory (p. 49).

This clearly shows how unethical the practices of the C.I.A doctors who have participation in the abuse of the human mind. Such cases of incidences, though, are barely seen in other parts of America. In Central America, for example, science may not be as advanced of that in United States. Science in Central America, for me, still values the importance of ethics and morality. Practitioners of science seem to acknowledge still the limitations of their field. This could be pointed on the region’s high take on the teachings and values of its dominant religion—Roman Catholicism.  As a result, there are fewer incidences of human rights violations as compared to those that are currently happening in North America, particularly in the United States. Religion, I believe, is also one of the biggest factors why such kind of human abuse is occurring in the country.

Colin Ross’ The C.I.A Doctors is a brave move to criticize not only the C.I.A or the U.S. government per se. It is a call for all practitioners of science to bring back ethics or to put more of it in their practices. Humans could be the most beautiful experimental specimens living on Earth. However, they should not be regarded as mere animals because they deserve to be not.

Work Cited

Ross, Colin. The C.I.A Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists. US: Manitou Communications Inc, 2006

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