Resolution Against Electroshock

RESOLUTION AGAINST ELECTROSHOCK – A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
passed by MindFreedom (f/k/a Support Coalition International) board of directors June 28, 2001

The Board of Directors of Support Coalition International (now MindFreedom) unanimously and strongly condemns the psychiatric procedure of electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy”,”ECT”)) as a serious human rights violation. It is our informed opinion, based on common sense, personal experience and scientific knowledge, that electroshock is a crime against humanity. It directly violates section 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which outlaws “cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment or punishment”, and the UN Convention Against Torture. It is our informed opinion that electroshock constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We also believe that virtually all electroshock is forcibly administered – that is, without genuine, fully informed consent.

We want electroshock abolished for these reasons:

1. Electroshock always causes brain damage.

2. Electroshock always causes permanent memory loss.

3. Electroshock always causes learning disabilities and other intellectual impairments.

4. Electroshock often arouses fear or terror in patients.

5. Even by conventional psychiatic standards, electroshock has an extremely high relapse rate – over 70% within one year.

6. Electroshock does not significantly relieve “depression” or prevent suicide. In fact, several research studies indicate that electroshock can aggravate or trigger depression and suicide attempts: the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway killed himself shortly after undergoing a second series of electroshock.

7. Psychiatrists frequently violate the ethical-legal principle of informed consent when prescribing/ordering electroshock. Subjects are not informed or misinformed about the procedure’s harmful effects. Nor are they informed about humane, non-injurious, non-medical approaches such as counselling (including peer counselling), self-help groups, and life-style changes.

8. Electroshock discriminates against highly vulnerable people. Its chief targets are women and the elderly. Children are also being subjected to electroshock in growing numbers. In the United States and Canada, more than 70% of electroshock is administered to women, and upwards of half of those undergoing electroshock are 60 years of age and older.

9. Electroshock machines have never been independently inspected or approved for their medical safety. Since 1978, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States government has officially placed shock machines in its most dangerous medical-device category: class III, ” hazardous” or “unsafe”.

10. Electroshock has caused many deaths. Such deaths are routinely minimized or under-reported in the medical-psychiatric literature. Rarely are psychiatrists or ECT facilities required to report electroshock-caused deaths, or any other information concerning their use of ECT to governmental regulatory bodies.

Board of Directors Support Coalition International (now known as MindFreedom)

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