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The Chelmsford Royal Commission (1988-1990, chaired by Justice John Patrick Slattery, was established by the New South Walesmarker state government to investigate "Mental Health Services" in NSW. It came about only after prominent Sydney radio and TV shows, along with the Church of Scientology's advocacy group Citizens Commission on Human Rights, pressured the newly-elected Health Minister to make good his promises for a Royal Commission. Its prime focus had originally been promised as psychosurgery at the NSW Neuropsychiatric Institute. Following media pressure it focused more on the "Deep sleep therapy" of Dr. Harry R. Bailey, who was director from 1963 to 1979 of the Neuropsychiatric Institute and later the Chelmsford Private Hospital, a private psychiatric institution in Sydney.

Such was the shift of public attention that the Royal Commission changed its title from "Royal Commission into Mental Health Services" to "Royal Commission into Deep Sleep Therapy".

The Royal Commission found that 24 patients died as a result of "deep sleep therapy", a treatment where a cocktail of drugs was administered to keep patients unconscious for weeks at a time, only waking them up for Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Deep Sedation Therapy had been used in the 1950's in Canada in brainwashing experiments for the CIA, the psychiatrist involved was Donald Ewen Cameron, President of the World Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Bailey sought to get evidence in his defence from prominent Melbourne Psychiatrist Alex Sinclair (deceased), which revealed that Sinclair had used deep sedation therapy (apparently without the ECT). Dr. Sinclair said in a subsequent newspaper interview that he had given the treatment to prominent people including judges and politicians. The Victorian Coroner found that Sinclair had contributed to the death of a patient given deep sedation therapy in 1987.

A Victorian private psychiatric hospital which was associated with a quasi religious sect, Newhaven, "specialised in the use of LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), Deep Sleep Therapy and ECT."

Dr. Harry Bailey had previous to this treatment been an advocate for lobotomies including appearing in court for homosexuals (when homosexuality was both illegal and a mental illness) and getting them off charges, with the minor inconvenience of being sent to the US to receive a lobotomy.

Dr Bailey committed suicide in September 1985, in response to the ongoing investigations into his practices. In his suicide note, he said: "Let it be known that the Scientologists and the forces of madness have won".

References

  1. http://www.greenleft.org.au/1996/239/13949
  2. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25934441-2862,00.html
  3. http://www.psychosurgery.org/2006/02/psychosurgery-in-australia/
  4. The Melbourne Age, April 22, 1991.



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