William Sargant documentary

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BBC Radio 4 today aired a documentary called Revealing the Mind Bender General.


James Maw on the controversial psychiatrist Dr William Sargant, who tested drugs on his patients with, some say, catastrophic results.

In the 1960s and 1970s he developed his controversial Deep Sleep Treatment in the Sleep Room of St Thomas’s Hospital in London. James talks to some of those who worked under Sargant in the late-1960s and to some of his former patients, who all say that they are still suffering from his treatment to this day.

The documentary also investigates allegations that Sargant was involved in secret military experiments with hallucinogenic drugs.

Sargant’s papers are held by the Wellcome Library, and the documentary quotes from Sargant’s notes on patients undergoing Deep Sleep Treatment and also his correspondence with the writer Robert Graves (in particular, on Graves taking the drug psilocybin – “magic mushrooms”).

The documentary is available through the BBC’s iPlayer for the next 7 days.

Ross Macfarlane

Ross Macfarlane is the Research Engagement Officer at the Wellcome Library.

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6 comments on William Sargant documentary
  • Veritee


    I had Deep sleep therapy – or rather I endured DST when I was 17 – I am now 56 – in the UK in Park Prewitt hospital in Hampshire ( along with at least 5 others in the same ward at the same time…..and many others had it at that time over a period of 7 years or more)

    I experienced it as totally and deeply abusive ( I felt then and feel now that I was deeply/utterly abused by the NHS of the time in giving me DST and have since tried in many ways to make my voice heard

    and it took me at least 30 years to fully acknowledge what had been done to me ….. please believe me that since that time I have never had or needed to have any treatment for any mental heath issue nor have I ever taken any drugs – apart from paracetamol or those necessary for physical illnesses since and I believe I never needed such treatment in the first place –

    but it does not really matter if you had a mental health issue or not DST was abusive for anyone who experienced it

    I want to to speak out about what happened to me and many others, lest it happens again -god forbid and I am not religious – please contact me

  • James Maw


    Dear Veritee,
    my name is James Maw and I presented the programme about Sargant. I have already had many letters from people following the programme. Please feel free to contact me via my website
    With very best wishes,
    James Maw.

  • Prof Robin Marshall


    I have talked about this radio programme a few times with James, a v good friend of mine, and I want to get in my contribution before it becomes sucked in by the BBC. Having listened to the programme with a feeling of ever increasing chilling horror, I realised that Sargant was doing exactly what people did to those early black and white televisions when they did not work as you wanted them to (I choose my words carefully). You just bang them on the top and sometimes it actually works, but probably loosens something which will become the next fault.

  • Anonymous


    For anyone affected by Sargant’s treatment who wishes to contact a person who was in the “Sleep Room” you can e mail If you wish to remain anonymous do as I’ve done and set up a gmail/hotmail address.

    • lydia


      I am trying to contact someone who was in the Sleep Room. I have personally been affected by Dr Sargant’s work and am looking for contacts, emails, addresses. Any help at all appreciated
      Please contact me.Thank you, Lydia.

  • Susannah Phillips


    Hello Lydia,

    I was also affected by William Sargant’s work.

    I was in the sleep room at The Royal Waterloo Hospital in 1973.

    Please contact me at

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