Research Department by Ane Robillard
Much research took place during the fifties and sixties. In 1951 there was research into the organic factors involved in schizophrenia. The research was supported by a national health grant and supervised by professional staff from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Weyburn was an auxillary unit of the research program.
1954 - Research was done to determine the psychological response to LSD(lysergic acid) on a large group of volunteers. The research team were searching for a biochemical agent which they thought precipitates, to a large degree, to schizophrenia. The hypothesis that an individual under stress, both physical and mental, manufactures in his body the substance which accounts for the bizarre behaviour of schizophrenia. Volunteers were needed for a model. Several staff volunteered - Murray Cathcart, who was the first to take the drug, Chuck Jillings, Bill Ving, Hugh McDonald, Bruce Robertson, David Slator, Claire Blake, Bill Munn, Joe Harvey, Elaine Sinclair, Leyta Minogue, Pat Saunders, Jean Baker, and Marion Brownlee.
1955 - Psychological studies were directed towards the study of perceptual constancy of schizophrenic patients. Studies were done in hallucinogens, psychological, biochemical, therapeutic trials, basic clinical studies and follow up studies.
1957 - Sociological research in two directions.
1) What happened to schizophrenic patients after discharge?
2) Attempted to discover the effect of environmental structure on the reaction of persons with disorders of perception.
1958 - A pilot study on the treatment of alcoholics using LSD was carried out.
An anthropological study of the hospital was carried out by Francis Huxley with the aid of a Commonwealth Fellowship. Perceptual studies were expanded, studies of disculturation and drug studies were carried out. During the summer blood samples were sent to the University on ice for the use of various researchers.
The personnel department did a study on sick leave, which showed that Psychiatric nurses took no more sick time than other government employees.
1959 - Thirteen papers were published in scientific journals. As well as the study of schizophrenics, a large number of small but practical research projects were carried out to gain more information on the effective utilization of space for the promotion of healthy interpersonal relationships. Floor plans, colour patterns and the like came under scrutiny.
Four major areas of research were schizophrenia, senile states, anxiety and depression. It was hypothesized that there was a disturbance in the metabolism of adrenochrome, causing schizophrenia.
1960 - Research into the three main illnesses using hospital beds, schizophrenia, senility and alcoholism were carried out. Niacinamide and Nicotonic Acid were used for the treatment of schizophrenia. It was thought that niacinamide reduces the VS substance found in the urine of schizophrenic patients. A diagnostic card sorting test for symptoms was found to be valid. It was called the HOD test (Hoffer, Osmond Diagnostic Test).
In Weyburn an interesting study concerning the development of more desirable social behaviour patterns on long stay wards was carried out. Seventeen papers were published from Weyburn. The program was under the direction of Dr. T. Ayllon.
1962 - Studies on a new class of tranquilizers, the butyrophenones were started.
1963 - There were five full time staff engaged to the research program in Weyburn.
1966 - The department continued its study of the adjustments and community reaction to the 350 long term patients who had been discharged to the community earlier. The Assiniboia - Gravelbourg study was carried out. It had been noted that the attitudes towards mental illness in these two towns, situated relatively close together, were significantly different. The study was to determine whether the ethnic background, namely English and French, made any difference. Gerald McEachern was sent to Pierreville, Quebec, to do a three week comparison study in a totally French community. Interpreters were needed for communicating.
Studies took place in other predominant ethnic communities in Saskatchewan, such as Yorkton, Watrous and others. Dr. Dan Sydiha from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon was in charge of the project.
1967 - An ambitious five year study was carried out on 509 discharged chronic psychiatric patients. A comparison study between ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and a new treatment whereby small polarizing currents are passed through the brain was performed. Mr. Gib Emard, head of maintenance, made the unit from plans supplied from England. Dr. Marijan Herjanic was in charge of the program. The Research Department folded in 1972.
1952 - 55 / Ben Stefaniuk, Dr. Roland Lynch
1957 - 58 / Dr. T. Weckowicz, Dr. R. Sommer, Miss G. Whitney, Bob Hall, Miss Koshman, Mrs. Fenton, Secretary
1960 / Dr. Ayllon, Bob Hall
1965 - 72 / Gerald McEachern
1967 / Dr. Herjanic, Bob Hall, Colin Hales, Mary McCarron, Secretary
1970 - 72 / Dr. A. Masters
The following were some of the many papers that were written and placed in periodicals by Mental Hospital employees;
Allyon, T/Azrin, Nathan , H - Token Economy : A Motivational System for Therapy & Rehabilitaion 1961
Beddi, A/Osmond , H - Mother, Mongols and Mares 1955
Burrell, R/Clancy, I/Rejskind, M/Weckowicz, TE - A Clinical Trial with "Starax" and Largactil on a Group of Tense Psychiatric Patients 1958 - 59
Burke, JL/Lafave, HG/Kurtz, GE - Minority Group Membership as a Factor in Chronicity 1965
Burke, JL/Lafave, HG - Abstracts - Hospital Staff View the Special Patient 1965
Clancey, ILW - Therapeutic Aspects of the Mental Hospital Organization 1959
Clancey, ILW - Occupational Therapy as a Group Activity 1950
Clancey, ILW/Osmond, H - Permissive and Authoritarian, Two Misleading Words 1959
Cross, DS/Clancey, ILW - The Organization of Occupational Therapies in a Psychiatric Hospital 1958 - 60
Cross, DS - Color Preference in Older Patients 1960
Hall, RW/Grunberg , F - Changes and Communication Within A Mental Hospital 1956 - 64
Hoffer, A/Osmond , H/Smythies J - Schizophrenia - A New Approach II Results of A Year's Research 1953
Hoffer, A/Osmond , H - Schizophrenia - An Autonomic Disease 1955
Hoffer, A/Osmond , H - Malvaria - A New Psychiatric Disease 1963
Horbaczewski, J - Agranulociytosis Associated with Chloropromazine Therapy 1956
Horbaczewski, J - Admissions of Geriatric Cases to a Mental Hospital 1958
Osmond, H/Smythies J - Schizophrenia - A New Approach 1952
Prysiazniuk, AW/Kelm, H - Visual Figural After Effects in Retarded Adults 1962
Kelm, H - The Figural Effect in Schizophrenia Patients
Kelm, H/Grunberg, F/ Hall, RW - A Re-examination of the Hoffer - Osmond Diagnostic Test 1965
Lafave, HG/ - Conceptual Basis for Innovative Intramural Programs for Chronic Patients
Osmond, H - Schizophrenia 1954
Osmond, H - The Doctor in Court 1955
Osmond, H - A Grand Strategy for Mental Hospitals 1955
Osmond, H - Child of the Devil 1956
Sommer, DT - The Effect of Background Music on Frequency of Interaction in Group Psychotherapy - 1957
Sommer, R - Sex Difference in the Retention Quantitive Information 1958
Sommer, R - Occupational Therapists as Specialists in Mental Hospitals 1958
Weckowicz, TE - Reliability of Mecholyl Test 1956
Weckowicz, TE - The Effect of Lysergicacid Diethlanide(LSD) on Size Constancy 1959
Wright, JB - Rehabilitation in a Mental Hospital 1966
Wright, J/MacKinnon, AA/Lafave, HG - Transition from Custodial to Community Service : The Weyburn Psychiatric Centre 1965
Zerney, J/Osmond, H - In Defense of Nursing 1956
My Trip With LSD in 1960 - by a former employee
" My experience with LSD has satisfied much of my curiousity of how schizophrenics feel when they hallucinate. Above all it taught me that "nobody ever does nothing".
I was a student nurse taking my psychiatric training and Dr. Osmond was doing experiments with LSD in hopes of finding a better way of treating Schizophrenic patients.
The reason I had for wanting to take this drug was to gain a better insight into how patients feel and think, by feeling as they do, seeing as they see, and hearing what they hear when they hallucinate. If I could do this I thought it might enhance my understanding and make me a better nurse.
At one time I had had visual hallucinations from Dexadrine and extreme lack of sleep. It was a wierd experience seeing such things as doors opening at the hinges, driving over a long line of people, two people in beds when there really was only one. Fortunately I knew the cause and what was really happening but since then I could empathize with patients much better than when the word hallucination had only a book meaning.
I had heard many arguments against taking the drug since it was so very newly experimental. Things touted were: one immediately becomes addicted, one is unable to remember the experience, the experience will re-occur, etc. In my case I can disprove all of the above!
I had an evaluation as to my mental stability before any consideration was given to this experiment, I also had to be the age of consent. I had to have special permission from the Hospital Superintendent because I was a student. I was under the constant supervision of a Clinical Psychologist and the experiment was done in the Hospital. The records of this experiment are part of the experimental documents, in certain medical journals and in the archives of the Sask Hospital itself.
I have never had a re-occurance, I did not become addicted and am , I think reasonably sane.
The drug was a colourless, odourless, and tasteless liquid. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect or how long it would all take. I was in a room with a cot, talking to a psychologist who was with me at all times, recorded music was playing, juice & water were available and books were available if I so wished to read.
I didn't know how I would spend an entire day, but I soon learned the answer to that.
My first reaction was an incontrollable urge to giggle, this made me uncomfortable as normal people don't giggle for no reason, but I could not stop grinning & giggling. Next the bed I was lying on seemed to rock, my vision became blurred, and changes in perception came thick & fast.
Changes in perception pertained to all five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch & smell. My self image also changed. My hands & lips felt extremely thick and clumsy, so much so that I felt I couldn't hold anything in my hands nor even open & close my hands, or open my mouth. I felt like two people, one who was lying on the bed, but it seemed that part of me or my mind had escaped from my body and was watching everything like one detached person watching another.
The only unusual smell I remember is that of burning hair. I never felt cold although I was mentally transported to some very cold climate conditions. Auditory and visual hallucinations were many and the colours I saw were truly psychedelic and all was in unusual sharp clear focus.
During the course of this experience I seemed to pass the various phases of schizophrenia such as the paranoid phase, catatonic phase, neurotic phase, etc. It seemed that the everchanging music and spoken words brought about these changing moods.
Throughout the session I kept my face hidden and much of the time I was curled up as if to hide as much of myself as possible. This is how we see many of our regressed patients, curled up on a bed all day long. Now I have some idea of how they might feel with all this "stuff" going on in their heads.
During the earlier part of the day it seemed that I was unable to move. My arm & shoulder became stiff & tired, and I knew my skirt had hiked up but I was unable to pull it down or change my position.
At one point I was able to to see all the veins & arteries in my arm and I could see the blood pulsing as my heart was beating so loudly, it shut out all other sound.
The psychologist who was with me caused me to feel very paranoid toward him, I knew he was my link to reality for when he spoke to me, my mind cleared for a moment before going off on another tangent, but I didn't like the fact that I was dependant on him.
Whenever he spoke to me I rarely answered him, although at times I wanted to. It seemed to me I knew what he wanted me to say so I refused to say it. He annoyed me by saying something so I wished him dead. As I watched him, his body became transparent, I could see his internal organs functioning and all his blood vessels outlined. As I watched, still wanting him dead, all the blood drained out of him, his internal organs became still and for me, he was dead and I didn't have to deal with him.
My lips became dry & cracked because I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day although there was juice & water in the room. I refused to drink it because I could see it curdling, and I knew that he was trying to poison me. I knew that if he tried to make me drink it I would have fought him and tried to kill him. Often we wonder why our patients hit us for no known reason. Now I know for them it is perhaps perfectly justifiable and not just a whim.
I lost my identity approximately 2 hours into the session. Until then I knew my name, that I was a student nurse, a Sask Government employee, my father's daughter, my husband's wife, etc. Suddenly I no longer knew who I was! My name was only a name, a thing and if it wasn't mine personally, then I wasn't my husband's wife, my father's daughter, a Government employee, etc, therefore I was nobody and didn't exist. This came as a shock to me, because if I didn't exist then the body on the bed wasn't me but only a figment of my imagination.
At this point I needed to go to the bathroom but it actually took me about 45 minutes to get there. I didn't know how I could be sure I was in the bathroom as I might only be imagining I was there. I decided if I could feel myself sitting on the toilet seat I would know, but again this could be imagined, besides if I didn't exist, why would I have to go anyway.
The psychologist could see I was agitated so he brought me back to reality so I immediately went to the bathroom with a female nurses aide before I went to hallucinations again. In the bathroom everything was constantly changing - the floor tiles kept changing colour, shape, & texture, the lock on the door raised out of my reach & I panicked. I screamed & the young lady in the outer bathroom talked to me and brought me back. When I washed my hands the water in the sink rose to my elbows and drained out completely. We know that isn't possible yet I could feel the wetness on my skin & see the droplets on my arms when the water supposedly drained out of the sink.
The music being played brought to my mind many vivid pictures such as a climate where everything was ice & snow and all was a bluish colour. I could hear wind howling like in a storm, feel snowflakes on my skin but at no time did I feel cold, then the scene changed, I could feel warm wind, see the sun and beautiful lush greenery & flowers. I could smell the flowers.
My thoughts seemed to flit from one idea to another. Whenever I tried to follow one idea, all the thoughts used to think out the original one would lead me off on a new tangent. All the things I saw, felt, or heard were such as I had actually experienced or imagined at one time or another. One example being; title of a book "From Darkness to Light" brought to my mind, a bare light bulb hanging from a high ceiling while everything else is dark & dingy, plus an extremely dirty window with a spider's web in the corner, & loud footsteps echoing from stone stairs. This is exactly what I felt & heard. If anyone had asked me before or after to say what that title brought to mind that is exactly how I would describe it.
Reality was never too far away, even though I no longer knew who I was I always knew that tomorrow I would be normal again. I always knew what day it was and what time it was.
Something causing me some anxiety was that all through the day, every now and then I could hear & see wedding bells ringing out the Wedding March, but it never ended & I really wanted it to end. The Psychiatrist later told me he believed this was due to to the fact I was a reasonably new bride and had entered this experiment against my husband's wishes. This caused me to have something of a guilty conscience.
If I had a choice I would rather be completely sane or completely insane! The in-between is the most trying.
I thought I had completely recovered from the drug effect when suddenly I saw and smelled smoke coming out of the wood grain effect of the furniture, later felt a soft breeze when all the windows were closed, still later I saw darkness creeping out from under the bed. My mind knew these things cannot happen yet they were happening.
After I had gone home that evening, the house seemed to be burning. I could see orange flames and smell smoke but felt no heat. These are the things our patients often experience so there is no point telling them they are not so, or that what they see isn't there.
I hope I never forget when I see a patient lying quietly on a bed, how busy they really may be.
From all outward appearences I did nothing but lie on a bed from 8 am to 6 pm doing nothing yet it was one of the busiest days of my life. Thinking can actually be physically exhausting.
I believe this experience made me a better and more understanding Psychiatric Nurse, which was my goal. How often do we say or do the wrong thing because we just don't know how our patients feel. All we can do is try our very best".
In 1954, this paper was written by Dr. Humphry Osmond and was part of the Hospital Archives.
That sinister and enigmatic word has invaded art, literature, history, the law and recently even political orations. It appears in films and broadcasts yet how many people could define it : not one in ten thousand. It is called popularly "split mind" and this is thought to mean that double personality such as Jekyll and Hyde, which it certainly is not.
It has been called the scourge of our troubled age, though there is little evidence that we are more prone to it than previous generations. Some say that it is the result of the unwholesome stresses of our civilization, but from what we can discover schizophrenia is not bounded by climate, color, race or culture. It seems to be an ailment universal to mankind.
What then is schizophrenia? It is a group of mental illnesses which includes those that Kraepelin, the great German 19th Century psychiatrist, called dementia praecox, and others which were not in his classification. Eugene Bleuler, a Swiss, introduced the term in 1910, and in our opinion, since the Greek allows it, rather than "split" mind it should be called the shattered mind. These illnesses fill about one-fifth of all the hospital beds in Europe and North America and must account for over a half million people. It is the most costly and crippling adversary facing medicine today.
About one person in a hundred develops schizophrenia, and at least one-third of the sufferers are permanently damaged by it. Young men and women in the prime are stricken by it most frequently, and those who do not recover spend many years in mental hospital. Those who live and work with this monstrous illness are always being surprised by its vagaries. Within a few weeks a cheerful and active young man becomes so degraded that if allowed to he will eat his own excrement.
While a "hopeless" lunatic, long forgotten in the back wards of a mental hospital may, without any special treatment, in the space of another few weeks become well. No one knows why. It doesn't happen often like that, but that it happens at all is astonishing. However these dramatic illnesses are less frequent than those in which the sick person becomes increasingly odd, seclusive, shut-in and apathetic.
You will ask the cause of such a grave illness and here doctors differ. Everything from lack of mother love to a poor physical inheritance, from unkindness engendered by a competitive society, to a yeast-like organism, has its supporters. Where there are many opinions and no proof, men hold to their fancies with sturdy obstinacy. We fancy a toxic substance which has not yet been identified and in this we follow Eugene Bleuler and his even greater pupil C.G.Jung.
While doctors disagree as to the cause of an illness which is so costly in money and suffering, that one is never sure which astronomical figure to choose, most people would like to know something about the illness and what can be done about it. It is an illness in which there are changes in thinking, perceiving, mood and often bodily posture which may last a few days or a whole lifetime. This altered experience naturally results in altered behaviour. It occurs in all races and classes and has been seen in most age groups, but predominates in among those from 15 - 40. There is evidence that inheritance plays a part in the development. No one has shown that the brain or central nervous system is damaged in any way. In typical cases the patient is aware of his surroundings and his memory for recent and long past events is good.
You may feel that you have asked for bread and have had an academic brick thrown at you. You would like to know what it feels like to feel to be insane. It is not possible to describe this in a brief article, but books like Thomas Hennell's masterpiece The Witnesses (Peter Davies), C.K. Ogden's Kingdom of the Lost (Bodley Head), the wonderful novels of Charles Williams (Faber)and the appalling works of Franz Kafka (Secker) allow us to glimpse a world which is mercifully hidden from most of us. For those who wish to know more there is (under proper medical guidance), the path of personal discovery through the alkaloid mescalin and similiar substances. This reveals aspects of reality for which Yeats "terrible beauty" is the only adequate description. Experience of this sort are only just communicable by literary artists such as Mr. Aldous Huxley in this recent book; most of us are left shaken and inarticulate.
If you are a practical man you are probably saying "what's the use of it?" Mescalin and compounds like it produce what we call a "model psychosis", a miniature disaster of the mind, which, unlike those overwhelming mental illnesses that keep people in hospital for years on end, lasts only a few hours. Like any other model our model illnesses can teach us about the real thing, if we use them properly.
No explorer can ever be absolutely safe. Those who take these strange substances are like test pilots, but the plane is their own mind and body. One day we may look upon those volunteers who undertake these expeditions into another reality with the same respect that we treat pioneers of the air. If we learn how to alter or even prevent our model illnesses from occurring we may be able to attack the real ones with greater precision. At present our treatments, although sometimes effective are crude and we do not know why they work.
One day we shall treat these great illnesses as surely as physicians of the body treat diabetes or pernicious anaemia. Just how soon the day comes depends not a little upon every reader of this article, because it is your support not only in money but in encouragement which keeps researchers going in spite of difficulty and disappointment inseparably from such a task.
But illness is only the start. You want to know, just as much as we do, the meaning of these beautiful, awe-inspiring and frightening things. How do they come about? Can science help us to unravel this tangled and mysterious skein which is part of the essential nature of man? We believe that it can, and that in the unravelling we shall discover not only our limitations, but our extraordinary potentialities, and so check the disillusionment and despair of an age which seems so chaotic. It is by understanding our own nature and through our own nature that of the universe, that we shall foster the reverence for life of which Albert Schweitzer speaks. This reverence for life increases our love and respect for our fellow men and woman without bar of creed or color, because it springs from a vision far outstripping the imagination in its glory. Science at present is the only universal language and it is fitting that it should proclaim clearly and urgently a message of life and hope.
Dr. Humphry Osmond
Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada