Friday, April 09, 2010

Dr Aubrey Levin (aka "Dr Shock") and his "gross human's rights abuses"

A big news story broke out last week about a Canadian Professor of Psychiatry - Dr Aubrey Levin - who made sexual advances on one of his male patients. The patient caught it on camera, and since then another 29 patients have come forward with similar tales. The story made international news, and has featured in newspapers throughout the world.

Here's the article as it appeared in the UK's Gaurdian:
'Doctor Shock' charged with sexually abusing male patient

Why am I interested in this? Because it was none other than Dr Aubrey Levin (aka Dr Shock) who authorised my course of shock treatment when I was in the South African army last Millennium. Dr Levine emigrated from fled South Africa for Canada after he was accussed of "gross human rights violations" in the 1990s. Most of the accusations come from the gay community in respect to his heinous "cures" involving electric shocks practised on gay conscripts in the 80s. 

But it wasn't only gays that fell foul of Levine. Genuine PSTD patients like me were also subjected to his unique military style "Psychiatric Therapy". In fact it was pretty emotional to read about "the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria" in newspapers around the world. I WAS THERE!!

So I did some digging on the Neb and came up with an excellent summary of what I went through here:

Some of you might know that I wrote a book about my experiences in Ward 22 24 (along with other subsequent experiences) and it was vindicating for me to see my writings echoing the findings of the report. Here are some excerpts from my book juxtaposed with excerpts from the Abuse report:

In the late 1960s a new ward was created in the SADF's main military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte near Pretoria. Ward 22 (later Ward 24) was set up ostensibly to cater for the needs of conscripts and members of the Permanent Force with psychological problems or disorders. The SADF's venture into psychiatry came at a time when the length of service was increasing and the size of the armed forces was expanding.

We were greeted by a Captain and I was taken down a long corridor to a door with the words “WARD 24” written above it. Inside, the doors opened up to a large open plan hallway with long rows of military beds lining both walls. Soldiers were scattered around the ward smoking, playing cards and watching TV. Most of them had dream-coats on, but I could see they were soldiers.

Few conscripts found an atmosphere which was supportive and conducive to working through their concerns. Most of the people we interviewed experienced their time in the ward as profoundly alienating and at times punitive. Phrases like 'It was the worst time of my life' and 'It is a period I want to put behind me', recurred in all their stories.

The procedure of admission to the wards, the composition of the patient population, their organisation along military lines, the attitude of the personnel working there and the types of treatment used, all included abuses of psychiatric and medical ethics.

The organisation of the ward is along military lines. 'Patients' in 1985 were being subjected to military discipline. Regardless of their state of mind, they were forced to rise at five in the morning, make their beds and clean the wards in preparation for inspection at 6.30 a.m. Most of the patients regarded this as an extension of basic training. Until at least 1980 there was second inspection at 2 p.m., followed by a two-hour period of drilling in brown overalls.

It must have been about 6 in the morning when the first glow of daylight started seeping through from the veranda. I hadn’t slept a wink and felt incredibly tense and keyed up. Soon a few soldiers started stirring and then one or two jumped out of bed and a guy at the far end shouted for everybody to wake up. “Hurry, hurry…. He’s coming soon!”. There seemed to be a hint of panic in his voice, but it worked for everybody was scrambling out of bed. For the next few minutes there was a state of high frenzy as soldiers tidied there little bedside tables up and pulled their blankets and sheets straight. “He’s coming! He’s coming!”

Just then one of the soldiers closest to the door shouted: “Attention!” and all the soldiers rushed to the foot of their beds and stood at attention in their dreamcoats. I stood in line with them sensing the general feeling of fear. The staccato clip clop of army boots grew louder and then a huge Afrikaans sergeant barged through the doors at the far end of the ward and started inspecting each soldier and his area one by one. He had a large stick with him and stopped at the bed of the shuffler from the night before, who had somehow also managed to manoeuvre himself into position. “You Fucking moffie!”, the Sergeant bellowed in his face, poking his stick viscously into the shuffler's stomach. “ You cowards might be able to fucking fool the nurses but you can’t fucking fool me!”The shuffler’s face stared ahead twitching now and then in strange contortions...

Suddenly I was scared. I had been through hundreds of inspection parades before and I was used to the insults and bellowing. They had never phased me before. But this time it was different. This sergeant was evil - I could sense his evil presence from the moment he walked in the door. This sergeant was the enemy, the front guard of the forces of darkness. And I knew that he knew I was here. For the first time I felt a tremor in my knees and tried to control it but couldn’t.

Slowly the sergeant worked his way down the ward, one bed at a time. Now and then he would stop and poke his stick in somebody’s stomach and scream and curse about moffies, cowards, hippies and drug addicts. Since leaving Addington 24 hours earlier I had not had any medication and my shaking was getting worse. By the time the sergeant turned the corner at my end of the ward and got to my bed, I felt like my knees were knocking against each other. When he got to me the Sergeant stopped directly in front of me, looming above my head. “ Aha, a fucking newcomer!” he shrieked in my face. “ And look what a fucking shambles his bed is! Look’s like a bloody whorehouse! Who’s c*nt are you going to fuck soutie, you mother’s?” He lifted his stick and I felt its butt strike me in the stomach and drive all the breath out of me. “ I know why you’re here soutie! I know exactly why you are here. But you cannot escape from me!” He stood there staring down at me with his evil eyes for what felt like a full five minutes, before moving on...

The evil sergeant came every morning, and every morning my shaking got worse. He never failed to stop in front of my bed and poke me in the stomach with his stick. “This is not fucking heaven soutie, this is the fucking army!” he would shout. One day he bought these two huge Alsations with him on his inspection which were apparently meant to sniff out any marijuana. They looked more like wolves to me and were just as evil as the Sergeant. The one soldier was so terrified of the dogs that he went into a type of epileptic fit and lay writhing on the floor with foam coming out of his mouth. About four male medics had to hold him down to get the injections in. The Sergeant seemed pretty pleased with himself that day.

The orderlies were seconded from military units as part of their duties. Their attitudes varied - many were hostile, shouting orders at, and verbally abusing patients. Orderlies were armed with pistols at all times. One of the servicemen interviewed by RESISTER, who worked as an assistant to psychologists in 1983, said that there was continual tension between the qualified medical staff and military officers over the handling of patients in the wards, with the higher ranking military officials having considerable say.

I could hardly finish my words as two burly male medics appeared out of nowhere and dragged me back to the Ward where they stuck a huge injection into me. Satan was here; he was fighting for his life.

As it dawned on me, I let out an almighty scream and leapt out of my seat. I don’t know how I managed it, but I ran down the corridor, out the front entrance and down the driveway of the hospital. I had only been able to shuffle for the past few weeks but now pure adrenaline took over. My techni-colour dream-coat streamed out behind me in the wind and in one hand I waved my pocket Bible in the air. At the end of the driveway a guardhouse appeared and two soldiers jumped out with R4 rifles.

“ Repent! Repent!” I screamed in their faces, but it was all in vain. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with my pants down and a male medic on top of me ramming a huge syringe of venom into my backside.

Patients with serious disorders have been heavily drugged for long periods of time. Medication and sedatives have been fairly freely dispensed among he patients. This has led to a feeling among some of the patients suffering from post-combat stress that it was more convenient for the staff to drug them than to confront their experiences.

By now my pills had increased to ten in the morning and four at lunch and supper. The medication clouded my mind and I battled to concentrate. Really frustrated one morning I decided to go to the athletic field in the hospital ground and take a jog. I had been very fit before this whole thing began and I figured that a run would clear my head. Maybe I could start running every day? But I was in for a nasty shock for when I started to run I found that I couldn’t. My feet felt like blocks of lead that I just couldn’t lift fast enough. It was a terrible sensation, like that feeling you can sometimes get in nightmares when you are running away from an attacker but seem to be held back by an invisible gravitational force. I was devastated and began to realise what the snakes on the badges were for – they were slowly poisoning me...

The sluggishness from the drugs got worse and worse. Days went by and then weeks went by and eventually it was with horror that I realised that I, too, had become a shuffler. When I went anywhere I couldn’t swing my arms. They just hung, like solid steel pipes, at each side. And my feet inched forwards, half a foot at a time.


Pic: Dr Aubrey Levine

The SADF's psychiatric units were largely the creation of Dr Aubrey Levine, whose career as a psychiatrist owed much to the SADF. He joined the army after qualifying for a medical degree and went on to study psychiatry on military bursaries. He worked under the supervision of Lt. General Cockcroft, the Surgeon General from 1969-1977. Upon his refirement Cockcroft become active in ultra-right organisations.

By the early 1970s Levine had been promoted to the rank of colonel and was chief military psychiatrist co-ordinating work in the army, navy and air force. Levine was solely responsible for the types of treatment used in Word 22. He was never accountable to a wider reference group of qualified personnel, and his approach could not have been cruder.

On the second to last day I was sent to the far corner of the hospital where a very important man had an office. He was a Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and one of the most learned men in his field in the Southern Hemisphere, they said. I packed my journal for the long journey anxious to show the Professor my discoveries. He was my last ray of hope. He had to understand.

Finally a little lady in red indicated that it was my turn. I entered the Professor’s little office and sat down on the opposite side of a little coffee table to him. He was dressed in civilian clothes and I could detect an air of smugness in his demeanor. He observed me, waiting for me to say something. I opened my journal to where I had joined the Alpha and the Omega. “Look,” I said, “ The Alpha and the Omega”
He examined the picture for a while and then shook his head: “ Look’s like a penis to me.” He said.


Within 2 days of meeting with Dr Levin, I commenced a series 6 ECTs (Electro Convulsive Therapy) against my will.

I am angry. But strangely I also feel vindicated. In the final analysis he was more fucked up than me...

You can see a review of my book here:

You can buy the book here:

(In all fairness I must warn you that although the above excerpts are taken directly from the book, other parts of the book are highly philosophic and esoteric)

Dr Aubrey Levin
Dr Aubrey Levine
Dr Shock
Ward 22
Ward 24


  1. WillBeFine10 April, 2010

    I have no doubt that everyone's first introduction to a psychiatric ward will be one of the worst experiences of their lives but to be cared for by sadists and sexual predators is beyond comprehension.

  2. I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

  3. Anonymous31 May, 2010

    The news out of Ontario tonight (without confirmation, but plenty of info coming in on this) is that Dr. Levin 'bought' his way into Canada, when he resigned from his government position in South Africa. The second news item (confirmed) is that University of Calgary was 'advised' to hire Dr. Levin and therefore did not do a background check or discuss his hiring with references given.

  4. Anonymous28 June, 2010

    I was a soldier that spent four months in ward 24 (pshyco ward) as it was known. Luckily i was not gay but some people i knew there were.
    When they came back to the ward after seing DR Levin they shook for weeks and if they did not comply to being straight they were shipped off to weskoppies ,another civilian institution. My torture was bad enough as my so called pshycologist was the only real nut amongst the lot of us. He would frequently throw his pen case across the room when i spoke to him.
    I was told to forget what i was taught in the army and never share it with anyone.
    I was threatened repeatedly about being sent to weskoppies if i did not comply with their hatred rules and learn to speak afrikaans more often.
    My crime was that i spoke English not because i was mad. You see i was considered a black person in the army and treated accordingly as if that was a crime.
    As for Dr Levin i never had much to do with him as it seemed his interest was in gay people only.
    If i had the money to pursue how they destroyed my life in ward 24 i would strip them of all they have.
    I was treated like a dog and told i would never join civilian soceity again. Luckily my parents made a point of getting me out and if they had not i would have dissapeared into the system never to be seen again.
    So yes ward 24 practice was bad to say the least. Have been out the army for 25 years plus but still have nightmares of ward 24 and their human rights abuses.

    Regards Pierre

  5. I will be sure to read your book. And I'm extremely pleased to see a blog about Dr Levin. Though my encounter with the man was in Bloem, not Pretoria, I experience a shock of recognition in much of what you record. Thus I find it mildly amusing that I consulted the I Ching while stationed at Upington on the question of whether I would be liberated from the place. The oracle spoke truly: release was imminent. What it didn't tell me was I would first have to be sent to the psychiatric ward in Bloem again, where I was fated to see Levin a second time, and where he would try to break me ... And did.

    Naturally I have been following Levin's annoyingly drawn-out trial in Calgary with interest, and have been monitoring what is said about it. Nearly all the comment emanates from gay activists; there is mostly silence from Levin's other sorts of victims. Gay or not, all the boy-children that were fed to this morbidly obese Moloch were vulnerable each in their own way – and very alone. I was particularly touched by your naivety that Levin would understand you, and that all would be well.

    I have no doubt your vision was terrifyingly real: I too have experienced it. Though I am not bipolar, I have been handed the precious gift of hypomania. I learned a lot about myself (and, during that episode, relearned that psychiatry is not my friend). Principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places and all that. As I learned from Jung, psychologically real because archetypally true but, I think, a cosmic joke played out on a screen that is as wide as the human landscape, but no wider. Break out the popcorn and have a good laugh, or shake your head in wonder.

  6. Omg i was also a patient of his recently in canada! i was so shocked when i found out this stuff about him. i always thought he was creepy though

  7. iknow himpersonally and hes an a great guy

  8. A friend of mine (not gay) is a male patient of Levine's who was also assaulted. He will be testifying at Levine's trial in the upcoming weeks. With the number of victims who are coming forward, I have a feeling that Levine will not be practising anymore for the rest of his life.

  9. Anonymous11 July, 2011

    colonol Levin is a certified sicko and feeds on the vulnerable> lucky i was not that and if i was? he taught me never to be a gentle man ,as guys like him would take advantage of any gentleness or meekness in a man>>> he must suffer for his slimey swarmy and sick pervertedness>>>NAZI JEW

  10. Hi I was also in Ward 22 in 76, not Gay but drug related, I remember the name Levin but Col Weideman was our Devil. I ran away the day I heard I was to go to Greefswaldt which as I heard and Found out after I was captured much worst than W22. I believe this was an experiment on drug addicts that went very wrong. If someone can contact me who knows about this I shall be glad because we were realy f$%%^^$#-up there. This thing still bothers me today, I have not used drugs for more than 10 years but still have a drinking problem and many others that I can tie to Greefswaldt. I think the idea was good but they never did their homework on how this actually made us worst and caused many other problems for us we did not have before going there.

  11. Anonymous09 May, 2012

    As a 10 yr in the early 80's I witnessed ward 24 for 8 weeks every night when my brother was subjected to their inhuman treatment of so called mentally vulnerable soldiers.

  12. Wow - what a bizarre coincidence. Cant believe this site exists. I am visiting Canada and after watching a documnetary on the Nazi holocaust for no apparent reason entered 1 Mil hospital / Col Weidmen in search. Firstly had no idea Levin had emigrated here. I spent 6 months locked up in ward 22 in 1974 - my " disease " ? - I had refused to go back to my Potchefstroom Artillery camp after being beaten to a pulp over two days by Sgt Pretorious who hated my guts and the major fact I was English ( I found out many years later he was eventually court martialled for other serious abuse cases ) My Dr Evil was Col Weideman and psychologist Le Grange. They would alternately call me in twice a week to ask if I was ready to go back to Potchefstroom to which I always replied I will not and if you try and force me I will kill the first person who tries to force me back. I begged them to send me anywhere else - even the border but it was clear they wanted to break me. This went on for 6 months until one day I was called in strangely by Dr Levin and informed I had finally been transferred to camp in Pretoria. During my time in Ward 22 I did the route marches in our pyjamas, sufferred the morons who did inspections and saw one guy in particular being brough back regulalry from therapy with Dr Levin and shaking uncontrollablly for days after. I remember another patient called Blom. If anyone else was there at this time and reads this please post your memories - many people I have forgotten and some great friendships with other patients. It is interesting how I equated this with the Holocaust and a Mengele type operation - although I suffered the endless barrage of manipulation, threats, punishments etc I fortunately never got shocked. I do remember we were forced to take certain pills every day and open our mouths to prove we had swallowed them. I have no idea what they were and dont doubt they made us easier to control but dont recall ever feeling doped though. My favorite person was the short chubby Sister with short black hair who was a real breath of life and had a great sense of humor. Wish I could rememebr her name. To all who passed through that Horror House Ward 22 I hope you have managed to deal with the more severe abuses and hope Levin is committed to a " Ward 22" in Turkey one day.

  13. I was there in '72. 40 years later I have still not forgotten. Remember the cat that had been given LSD? Moondrops I think her name was.

  14. The only cat I remember was a little black one that I really liked. But woke up one day to hear it had been hung by a rope with its throat slit. And that *wasn't* a hallucination...


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