Trained at the Maudsley Hospital, South London. Established a unit at Belmont Hospital during World War Two for the treatment of shell-shocked servicemen.
Along with Eliot Slater, Sargant was a pioneer and advocate of physical methods of treatment in psychiatry such as ECT, continuous narcosis, insulin coma therapy and psychosurgery. His enthusiasm for such methods grew partly out of contempt for psychoanalysis, which was hugely popular among British psychiatrists between the wars. As an exponent of biological psychiatry, he regarded psychoanalysis as worse than useless in treating severe mental illness.
Founder and Director of the Department of Psychological Medicine at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where he established a laboratory for mind control experiments.Template:Dubious He was also a consultant to the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI5/MI6).
In 1944 he collaborated with Slater in writing An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, a textbook on biological psychiatry that included lobotomy and shock therapy and remained in print for three decades.
William Sargant was a pioneer in methods of placing false memories into patients. He attested at the 1977 U.S. Senate hearing, "that the therapist should deliberately distort the facts of the patient's life-experience to achieve heightened emotional response and abreaction. In the drunken state of narcoanalysis patients are prone to accept the therapist's false constructions."
"...Jesus Christ might simply have returned to his carpentry following the use of modern [psychiatric] treatments." - William Sargant
Books written by William Sargant
- Battle for the Mind: The Mechanics of Indoctrination, Brainwashing & Thought Control by William Sargant, Pan Books, 1957
- Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing , by William Sargant, Malor Books, 1997, ISBN 1-883536-06-5
- Mind Possessed, The : A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism, and Faith Healing, 1975, ISBN 0-14-004034-X
- The Unquiet Mind - an autobiography, by William Sargant 1967 Heinemann ISBN 0-434-67150-9
- An Introduction to Somatic Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant and Eliot Slater, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1946
- An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant and Eliot Slater, Edinburgh : E&S Livingstone, 1944 [1st ed.]
- An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry, by William Sargant, Eliot Slater and Desmond Kelly, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1972 5th edn ISBN 0-443-00868-X
- Wellcome Library - http://www.aim25.ac.uk/cats/20/2898.htm
- 1977 U.S. Senate hearing on MKULTRA,
Joint Hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommitte on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session, Wed, August 3, 1977 - http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/e1950/mkultra/index.htm