Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

I am Pissed Off that I Missed Out on my Youth

Questions from the panel chair for “JJ,” after he gave his testimony:

Don Weitz, panel chair: This was in Hamilton I believe, where you said…

JJ: The Ontario Hospital in Hamilton, yes.

DW: Did any doctor bother to explain to you any of the major effects or what to expect and do you remember giving any kind of consent?

JJ: They told me I was a certifiable patient, that I was not informed. I had no right in the situation at all. They could do what they wished to me.

DW: Excuse me did you just say they told you that you had no rights?

JJ: No because I was certifiable. I was not in a mental state to make the decision on my own. So they would be making the decisions for me. Did you think that I wanted to be wired to the bed? I don’t think so.

DW: Did they also…just to follow up the question. Did any doctor including the ones who prescribed shock, give you an alternative or mention any possible alternative to shock?

JJ: Well I said that I was lithium. I was on Haldol. I was on Stelazine at the time. But when it was brought to my attention that they were going to buzz me or to give me shock treatment no nothing was mentioned. There was no alternative but to have this treatment. That I was an involuntary patient. But I was able to fight back for awhile.

DW: Could you give me about the year that it was or the years?

JJ: Yes I can give you the definite years. It was between 1972 and 1977.

DW: OK thank you. Any other questions?

Cathy Crowe, panelist: You probably heard other people describe the problems they had with concentration and different ongoing effects. Would you maybe describe any that you felt?

JJ: After the ECT I became very inward, antisocial kind of person. I guess that if society allowed somebody to tie a wire voltage to your head and fry your brain you might become antisocial too. Right? I became very antisocial. I became psychotic which was definitely not the type of guy of was. I’m a happy go lucky guy. I’ve been that way for the last twenty five years. I attend the Club (inaudible). I volunteer my [time] there. I am a personal support worker certified through Niagara College in Welland. I am out to help anybody and everybody but at that time it really affected me. There’s a few times in my life that I have, like the lady just mentioned, that she has spans of memory loss. I have them. I lost the feeling of accomplishment through my youth. Obviously if you are in a hospital with older gentlemen anywhere from thirty to fifty years old and you are only sixteen years old and they treating you like you are the pet on the unit, that’s not healthy for you. So I have a lot of …I don’t know how to say it. I am pissed off in a way that I missed out on my youth or my young adulthood. But I gained it all back. I got it all back now. (inaudible) it’s hard that I lost it at the time when I lost it. But the only thing ECT did for me was to delay my life. Once I got back on track I can go full force now. That’s all I can say.


Montreal is In!

Good news. Yet another city is now demonstrating against electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy on Mothers Day–Montreal. That now makes three: Toronto, Cork, Ireland, and Montreal. A big congratulations to Action Autonomie Montreal-Comité Parechocs.

Authentic Informed Consent Form for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT, Electroshock)

A very informative article by John Breeding, Ph.D., that was published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, a few years ago. It provides a very good description of the treatment itself and its effects – especially those that are denied or minimized by the psychiatric establishment. But what’s really great about this article (actually, it’s a book chapter) is the authentic informed consent form for ECT that he includes toward the end:

Genuine informed consent for electroshock is nonexistent because electroshock psychiatrists deny or minimize its harmful effects. For example, the American Psychiatric Association officially states, “In light of the available evidence, brain damage need not be included [in the consent form] as a potential risk.” (6) In addition, in all but one state ECT may be legally forced upon nonconsenting individuals who are said to be or are adjudicated mentally unqualified to give their consent.

There are many ways in which informed consent is violated. First, there is denial and minimization of harmful effects. The official APA literature and the typical hospital brochure are both travesties of truth. …pragmatically crucial, is that people become victims of this so-called “treatment” at a time in life when they are extremely vulnerable. At vulnerable times, people desperately need to trust and rely on others for help. Reaching out, they need complete safety and support. Their only hope, in this desperate state, is to trust the wisdom and guidance of the professionals to whom they turn for help. Informed consent is a superlative principle; it is not a protection in these conditions.

Breeding provides authentic information about electroconvulsive treatment, scrupulously annotated with references to published research, about the long term effects, and lack of efficacy of electroshock. Vital reading for anyone who is being encouraged to undergo ECT.

It’s a very upsetting feeling to not know yourself or your own life

From “J’s” testimony at the Public Hearings into Electroconvulsive Therapy held in Toronto, April 2005:

I had thirty bilateral treatments over the course of a couple of months. I do have a little bit of memory of the actual treatments themselves. … I just laid down, they put an needle in my arm. I counted backwards and kind of went “Ahhh!” into this nice little sleepyland. Then when I woke up I would be on a gurney in a hallway and I would have no idea what year it was, what country I was in. Things like that. But over the course of a couple of hours, I would figure out what year it was, what country I was in. But as the treatments progressed, the memory became more and more difficult to get back and there was bigger and bigger gaps each time afterwards…

So at that point I had to do extensive research into who I was, what my life had been, how to do things like read and write and do math. It was like I was sort of an infant relearning how to exist in the world and who I had been before all of this had happened. … There are still very, very large gaps in my memory about a big part of my life. Like other people who have undergone ECT I sort of dread people coming up to me and saying: “You remember me?” Because quite often I don’t. … So I am sort of a cold, distant person or I have the choice of going into extensive detail about what happened to me and telling, disclosing all these things like the ECT and that’s: “WHY I don’t remember you. Sorry.”I hold on to old friends very dearly because they are like repositories of information about me that I can access. They’ll have stories about me that I would have no clue about…

Pretty much my entire history of what had happened to me before 1995 was wiped out by the ECT. So I kind of was going: “Who am I?”, “What has my life consisted of?” As well as how I am going to cope with existing and you know, that terrifying thing called the future. …

The man who spoke earlier was talking about how it affects your learning capabilities and how smart you may be or feel. That is definitely something considering that at one point I couldn’t do the calculation of 7 X 8 . You know at this point it can be difficult for me to learn things. I don’t know how much that has to do with ECT but definitely when I talk to friends who I knew a long time ago, they say that I’m not as quick as I used to be and that I might not be as smart as I used to be, which is a very upsetting thing. … One of the most distressing things I find is thinking about the fact that when I am trying to remember things, the memories I have are not necessarily my own memories because of all the research that I did, talking to people and looking through books and you know, having big meetings with my friends about what’s happened in the past and stuff. I am taking their word for things that have happened in my life. And then, you, know, my memory isn’t perfect so I am just remembering what they remember about things about my life, and you know. So someone asks me a question about something that’s happened in my past and I am like: “Well I think I was told this. So that’s the answer that I am giving you but honestly I have no idea whether or not that’s true.” It’s a very, very upsetting feeling to not know yourself or your own life except through second hand experience.

anti-electroshock protest becomes international

Breaking news. While initially only Toronto was demonstrating against electroshock on Mothers Day, Cork Ireland is now doing their own demonstration against electroshock on Mothers Day. If we have two cities protesting this Mothers Day, we could make it 15-20 the following Mothers Day, and 100’s the year after that. The Mothers Day protest is now international. And we are on the move.

Event Schedule for Mother’s Day

Join us for the Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers! event on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2007. Here is the planned schedule for the day:

1:15 pm Assemble at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, College/ Spadina

1:30 pm Puppets-and-people march to Queen’s Park

2:00 pm Assemble in front of Legislative Bldg, Queen’s Park

2:15- 4:00 pm Speakers: Dr. Bonnie Burstow, women shock survivors and activists

Throughout the afternoon: Songwriters/artists: Roger Ellis and others * Friendly Spike Theatre Band * Special Performances * Free Food!

So bring your mothers, grandmothers, sisters, brothers, partners, children, dads and granddads!

Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers!

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2007, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) is organizing a public, arts-based demonstration against electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy”, “ECT”) therapy specifically for its use on women.

The public mistakenly believes that electroshock is a treatment that was only used in the past. In fact, the use of shock has increased in Canada and the United States during the last 10 years.

The two main targets of this destructive psychiatric procedure are women who have recently given birth, and women 60 years and older. With women electroshocked two to three times as often as men, with the physical and emotional damage wrought by electroshock well established, and with the complicity of the state clear, we are declaring electroshock a form of state-sponsored violence against women.

We see Mother’s Day as the appropriate day for the protest because it is about mothers and because of Mother’s Day’s initial and powerful connection with activism, especially peace activism.  At the same time, we are aware and respect that people like to spend time alone with their family on this day. Accordingly, our demonstration will be afternoon, with the idea of not intruding on women’s breakfast, brunch, and dinner with their family on that day. Additionally, the event will be byo-mag (bring your own mother and grandmother); byob (bring your own baby); and byop (bring your own partner). Indeed, we are encouraging people to invite all family, relatives, and friends to attend with them.

Shock survivors, feminists, and human rights activists assert that electroshock is a form of psychiatric assault and elder abuse – violence against women. The use of electroshock is an extremely serious violation of our human rights and it should be universally banned.