Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

shock videos recommended by Sue Clark

From Sue Clark-Wittenberg, here are three videos with Dr. John Friedberg, a neurologist from California discussing ECT and brain damage and Dr. Breggin is in a video discussing ECT.

John Friedberg maintains that,

ECT isn’t new and it isn’t effective…. ECT isn’t new and it isn’t effective. It causes brain damage manifested mostly by amnesia. This video is a brief overview from my perspective as a neurologist.

He discusses ECT and says it causes brain damage in this video, which shows an interview with Liz McGillicuddy, who lost much of her memory from electroshock in 1994.

Dr. Peter R. Breggin talks about the literature, and why some people become more depressed after ECT.


Ron Bassman’s critical letter to Washington Post

July 24, 2007

Letters to the Editor

The Washington Post

1150 15 Street  NW

Washington, DC  20071

Dear Editor:

I am a person who was given 40 insulin coma and ECT treatments in 1966.  I am deeply troubled to see skewed information about the miraculous benefits of ECT.  The folly of developing heroic biomedical solutions to complex conditions unique to human beings prevents more effective healing practices from emerging.  Such an approach justifies inhumane treatment protocols that are less effective than placebos to be hailed as life-saving as reported in the July 24 article, „Shock Value‰ by Shirley Wang.

The small cadre of people who report the astounding benefits of ECT cannot help but remind me of other injurious treatments such as lobotomies and organ and teeth removal which represent only a few of the many overly-promoted harmful treatments that are embedded in the short history of psychiatry.  Now, with ECT, while the preponderance of evidence shows its harmful damaging effects, the vast array of personal accounts of life-long irreversible damage is minimized and dismissed as unscientific anecdotes.  One must wonder why a controversial procedure like ECT can be forced upon a person against their expressed wishes.  And even when consent is obtained, can we truly say that it is fully informed consent?

Ronald Bassman, Ph.D.

Author, A Fight to Be: A Psychologist‚s Experience from Both Sides of the Locked Door.

Chair, Community Consortium Inc.

Shirley Wang’s pro-shock article in The Washington Post

hock Value –

Electroconvulsive Therapy Saves Lives. But 70 Years After It First Gained Currency as a Treatment For Major Depression, ECT Continues to Court Controversy.
By Shirley Wang

Special to The Washington Post

Tuesday, July 24, 2007; Page HE01

Anthony Mauger woke up at 5 a.m. one morning nearly 10 years ago and heard a message in his head telling him to kill himself. He wrote a goodbye note to his wife, then jumped off the back deck of their Kensington home, falling the 14 feet hard enough to wake her with the sound of his thud.

The 66-year-old organic chemist succeeded only in smashing his knees and skull. After surgery at Suburban Hospital, he was transferred to Potomac Valley Nursing and Wellness Center in Rockville for intensive psychiatric care.

Mauger had been depressed been for about six months, his wife, Inge, remembers. His sleep had been poor, and he was making strange claims that he could not go on vacation or walk. The slew of antidepressants Mauger tried made no difference. After four more months watching her husband deteriorate, Inge Mauger was desperate. “Nothing is happening,” she said to his psychiatrist. “Isn’t there anything you can do?”

“We can try ECT,” he replied.

Better known as shock therapy and seared into our collective consciousness as the involuntary procedure depicted in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” electroconvulsive therapy remains a controversial treatment, often used, as in Mauger’s case, only after other treatments fail. Its popularity has waxed and waned in its 70-year history, but an estimated 100,000 Americans undergo ECT each year, according to a 1995 survey of more than 17,000 psychiatrists, and its use appears to be steady or increasing since then.

The number of treatments in California — one of the few states that have mandatory reporting — increased from about 13,000 to more than 20,000 between 1994 and 2004. Although the District, Maryland and Virginia do not require such reporting, Johns Hopkins Hospital treats about 125 people with ECT annually, a number that has not changed much recently, according to Irving Reti, head of Hopkins’s ECT unit; at Sheppard Pratt outside Baltimore, ECT physician Jack Vaeth says his service does about 60 treatments a week, an increase over the past decade.

While no one fully understands why ECT works, many psychiatrists believe that using an electric current to produce a “grand mal” — or generalized brain — seizure can “reboot” the brain when medications and psychotherapy fail. Just last week, a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggested that, despite its demonstrated effectiveness, ECT remains underused, primarily because of its stigmatized history.

The treatment is “miraculous” and “lifesaving,” say some patients and doctors, and yet the costs — primarily memory loss — can be significant. Many individuals who believe that ECT kept them alive when they were suicidal also urge caution about its use.

Mauger, as an older individual with “treatment-resistant” depression, is a fairly typical patient. Initially scared, he decided to try ECT weeks after his psychiatrist and wife first urged him to. By the seventh of his 12 treatments, he felt his depression lift.

“He sat up and said, ‘I’m not depressed anymore,’ ” his wife said. “I was amazed.”

His one relapse years later quickly responded to another course of treatment. “I am terrified of what would have become of me without ECT,” Mauger says.

A Long-Term Goal

An acute course of treatment usually comprises eight to 12 sessions, administered two or three times a week at a hospital. Studies show that more than 70 percent of severely depressed patients experience quick improvements. (About 50 to 60 percent respond to antidepressants.)

“ECT is hands-down, for the short term, our most effective treatment for depression,” says Harold Sackeim, professor of psychiatry and radiology at Columbia University .
However, only about half of patients remain well even six months after one course, if given no other treatment afterward. “Acutely helping someone out of a period of depression is very important,” says Sarah Lisanby, chairperson of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on ECT and Related Treatments. “But it’s not the end of the story. The goal is long-term treatment.”

That goal is a priority for researchers. The first randomized, controlled study of maintenance treatment following ECT, published in 2001, found that giving patients a combination of an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer significantly increased the chances that they would not relapse into major depression six months after having ECT.

More recently, a research group found that continuing to give ECT once a week to once a month for six months produced results similar to the combination medication treatment.

“We’re learning how to keep people well after ECT more than we knew before,” said Max Fink, professor emeritus of the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Stony Brook University in New York, who wrote last week’s commentary in JAMA. “You can’t just stop.”

A 20-Minute Procedure

The ECT of today is not the shocking scene depicted in books and movies. The overwhelming majority of patients receive the treatment voluntarily. While I was a clinical psychology intern this year at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, the head of the ECT program, Roger Haskett, arranged for my classmates and me to view ECT in action.

At Western, ECT is provided every weekday morning. Patients are wheeled one at a time into the ECT suite, lying on gurneys and in hospital gowns, much like patients about to get any other medical procedure. Many that morning were elderly and female, which is typical of the population that gets ECT, and most appeared calm.

They were given an intravenous anesthesia, which sent them to sleep within minutes. A muscle relaxant coursed through their entire bodies except for one foot, which was wrapped with a blood pressure cuff to keep the muscle relaxant out so the seizure movement could be observed. Five sensors were carefully attached to the patients’ foreheads to measure electrical brain activity, and their temples were cleaned and coated with conducting gel. The patients were also given oxygen, and a bite block was inserted into their mouths right before the electrodes were placed on their heads.

The anesthesiologist, psychiatrist and nurse then confirmed which procedure each patient would get — unilateral (both electrodes on the same side of the head) or bilateral (one electrode on each temple) — and what dosage of current.

The psychiatrist then placed the electrodes against the patient’s head, and the ECT machine sent a jolt of seizure-inducing current. Except for what appears to be a grimace — an automatic result of stimulation of the muscles that run along the sides of the face — and a tensing of the total body, ECT patients do not move during the procedure. There is no flailing about, apart from a slight twitching in the cuffed foot. Yet as a new observer, I found watching the experience a little jarring.

The setup is very efficient; each procedure takes about 20 minutes.

The Memory Issue

What bothers many patients afterward — and is at the core of the continuing controversy about ECT — is memory loss. Some are confused when they wake up; others complain that they cannot remember past events and have at least temporary trouble forming new memories.

Much research has focused on reducing that side effect, but patient experiences vary tremendously, and it is nearly impossible to predict the extent of memory difficulties in individuals, according to Frank Moscarillo, executive director of the Association for Convulsive Therapy, who has conducted ECT at Sibley Hospital since 1968.

Barbara Winkler, 46, of Kennewick, Wash., who had more than 90 sessions of ECT at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, cannot recall her wedding, which occurred during the period she was receiving ECT. “It probably saved my life initially,” Winkler said. “But the hardest part is probably the memory loss.”

Others, like Tom Hempel, 59, from Pittsburgh, see memory lapses as “inconveniences.” He jokes about “having an ECT moment.” “I know it was worth it,” he said.

Many in the ECT field say concentration and memory may also be compromised by depression. But it appears clear now that ECT can affect memory for much longer than the two to three weeks after which many physicians say most patients’ ability to remember will return to normal.

Some patients have pointed to inconsistency in information about side effects. Vermont state legislator Anne Donahue, 51, thinks they were not sufficiently emphasized before her first round of treatment in 1995, while the informed-consent form provided to her at a second hospital in 1996 was much more complete and easy to read.

“This is an incredibly vital and valuable treatment, but you have the right to know the risks,” Donahue said.

Although the overwhelming majority of ECT patients in the United States consent to the treatment, legislation governing involuntary ECT varies by state. The criteria are generally strict: A patient must be unable to make the decision, and they must be exhibiting dangerous behavior, such as not eating.

Also, there is no special license that a doctor needs to administer ECT in the United States. The American Psychiatric Association has issued practice guidelines, but in most states there is no regulatory body to see that practitioners adhere to those standards or to review the information on consent forms.

Nor is there any firm rule about when ECT is complete. Memory loss tends to get worse with more closely spaced treatments or larger doses of current, so doctors look for a plateau in improvement, when patients say they feel no additional benefit in symptoms.

“The desire to minimize memory loss while maximizing effectiveness is the holy grail,” said Steve Seiner, director of the ECT service at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., one of the largest such programs in the country. “The goal of ECT is to get them back to their base line.” ·

Shirley Wang, who is completing an internship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has a degree in clinical psychology. Comments:


my letter re Washington Post pro-shock article

July 24, 2007Letters Editor
The Washington Post

Dear Editor,
Shirley Wang’s article on electroshock (“ECT”) is one of the most psychiatrically biased and incompetently researched pieces I’ve read in some time. (“Shock value”, July 24/07). In her article, there is no mention that informed consent to “ECT” is routinely violated, a cruel sham; no mention of brain damage which electroshock always causes; no serious discussion of permanent memory loss which is very common and tragic; no mention of emotional trauma and terror; no mention that the dose of electric current during most shock treatments is approximately 200 volts; no mention that many hundreds of people have died soon after undergoing this “lifesaving treatment”. Wang’s article is also misleading and gives false hope by repeating the psychiatric lie that shock can prevent suicide. This article is also seriously flawed because it doesn’t point out the sexist and ageist factors in electroshock–women are its main targets, two to three times more women than men are electroshocked, particularly elderly women 60 years and older.
Too bad Wang and The Post are promoting this psychiatric atrocity instead of educating and warning its readers about its many destructive effects and safe, non-medical alternatives. I will not be silent until electroshock is universally abolished.
Don Weitz,
Insulin shock survivor, co-founder of Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault


Especially if you are in New York State:
If you were not aware that tomorrow’s Recipient Advisory Council meeting in Albany will be opening with the opportunity for the public to speak on the topic of ECT with Commissioner Mike Hogan & John Allen, Director O.M.H. Recipient Affairs (as I was not until reading MindFreedom’s recent bulletin), I’m passing this information on as it is an opportunity for any NYS citizen to do so Monday, July 23, 2007 beginning at 3pm, and continuing on Tuesday. As you know, forced electroshock has been an issue of major concern to all of us for many years now & this is an excellent opportunity to be heard.

Please share this info with others, and especially those in the Albany/Syracuse area. There will also be opportuntiies to speak out on ECT in NYC on July 30th and Long Island on July 31st with Commissioner Hogan & John Allen if you cannot attend this meeting.

-Camille S.



An OMH Recipient Advisory Committee will be held on Monday, 23 July 23 2007, at 3 pm, and will continue on Tuesday. We hear these are fairly large events. Just show up early, fill out your own name tag, and join in! Location: Comfort Inn, 99 Miller Road, East Greenbush, New York. Phone for Comfort In: (518) 479-3217.

More info and directions to this Recipient Affairs meeting on 23 July are here:


Three (3) briefings and public hearings will also be held with OMH Commissioner Hogan about their “Comprehensive Plan” in these next two weeks!

These three (3) public meetings are on the 20th (Syracuse), 30th (New York City), and 31st (at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Long Island). Each of these “Comprehensive Plan” meetings has a 10 am briefing followed by a 2 pm public hearing.

You can find the exact date, time and locations for the three “Comprehensive Plan” hearings here, or go directly to the OMH web page.



OMH Commissioner Hogan intends to be at these hearings asking about their “Comprehensive Plan.” In OMH’s own words he will ask, “Are services consumer and family centered and consumer and family driven?”

Even one single forced electroshock means the answer is: “No, No, No!”

You are encourage to attend all or any of these four events and speak out!

While of course you may want to sign up early for the public hearing, given the urgency of the situation some individuals may want to consider nonviolent creative ways to make their concerns known at other times during the event including the “briefing”: banner, sign, symbol, hand-outs, etc.

Perhaps you can find out some answers.

For instance, at the recipient meetings especially, you can ask why did John Allen, director of OMH Recipient Affairs, claimed to MindFreedom recently that “less than a dozen” New York State citizens received court-ordered electroshock without their consent last year at OMH facilities, and that the number of forced shocks is going down?

What is his data based on? What are the exact numbers?

Why has just one region of NY State, the few counties served by Darrow & Feld, had more than 15 OMH applications for forced shock in just the past six months for 2007, alone? And that’s just one region?

Why does OMH claim that Commissioner Hogan’s hands are tied by the courts, when John Allen at the same time also claims OMH has been able to take pro-active steps to lower the amount of forced shock in the past few years?

Whether or not OMH actually did lower the number of forced shock in the last few years, by his statement then of course OMH admits to having discretion.

At the very least Commissioner Hogan can make a public announcement of a goal to end forced shock! Commissioner Hogan spoke out during the President’s New Freedom Commission that he supported empowerment and self-determination.

Now is his chance to show it!

And isn’t it true that each and every court-ordered involuntary electroshock must begin with a REQUEST initiated by OMH to the courts?

Stand up… speak out… spread the word!

Stop Forced Electroshock in New York State!!

SS’s personal account of electroshock

Following electroshock experience was posted on a blog:

July 13, 2007

A Reader’s ECT Experience

The following was sent to me by SS, a reader, who wanted me to post it. I’ll let it speak for itself.


In the evening, the place I was in took a rhythm of it’s own. People fell asleep on chairs, and games of checkers and chess sat on the table, half played, like a lone sandwich sitting next to them.

It was nighttime. The patients had all been fed, and medicated, and were left in front of the TV while something as insipid as the Home Shopping Channel droned on providing white noise.

I had been in this locked ward for approx 20 days. My insurance, though I did not know it at the time, pooped out at 30.

And I hadn’t gotten better, I had gotten worse.

My doctor, who ran the hospital had unbeknownst to me called in my parents for a meeting, as well as the three doctors under him. All I knew was tonight I didn’t have my supper; instead one of the nurses helped me in the shower and bathed me because I was too catatonic to do so. She helped me get dressed and finally put on those slipper socks that all the inmates wear because our shoes had all been stripped of their laces.

She walked me out of the locked ward, stopping at the Christmas tree by the Nurses station in the main part, and let me touch an ornament. I smiled. We went into the doctor’s office and there was my mom, and dad sitting on a plushy bluish purple sofa, and three doctors I never saw before.

“Mr. and Mrs. S” went my doctor – “We’ve tried everything on your daughter but she is extremely depressed and still suicidal. We’ve tried several different drug therapies and nothing is working, and we are left with two things. She has ten days left on her insurance and if she is still like the way she is now, we will be forced to put her in a state hospital. Or we can try ECT”.

ECT was then explained to my parents, and they saw a video. And with the State’s leading expert on ECT who told them he would be personally administering it, papers were signed, I was convinced by mom and dad “ do this to make your mother happy”, and the next day woken up at 5 am to be driven to the local teaching hospital for my first round.

This isn’t the time or place to get into the fine details. Suffice it to say I was strapped down to a gurney and got poked prodded, IV’ed and what not. I saw monitors and a little contraption by my bedside that looked like R2D2. When the good doctor got to me, I had my treatment, later waking up and changing back to my street clothes and out of those hospital garbs that show your ass to the universe.

What was unusual was when they asked me who the President was; I thought it was Bill Clinton. But I got the other questions correct and maybe it’s a good thing to forget a few years of history.

But as the treatments went on, I noticed several things. I had a photographic memory prior. I could not recall huge events in my life. I would look at family pictures and know something happened but couldn’t recall it. Huge chunks of my adolescence and childhood went Poof! I also had the ability to recall in graphic detail every book I had ever read from “Green Eggs and Ham” to the last book I had been reading in the hospital which was of all weird things “ A Noonday Demon’. I had been a contestant on Jeopardy. Now I couldn’t even name the hosts name.

I couldn’t read anymore. I couldn’t even read a newspaper. I couldn’t watch TV. I forgot how to get to places I was driving to, even though I had been driving the same routes for years.

Now this may seem trivial. To some people, thinking the last president was Clinton could be a good thing. To some people forgetting horrible adolescence is a good thing.

But when you are a writer, someone who makes their LIVING out of writing, and cannot anymore its death.

Imagine you are an Olympic athlete or a pro ball player. You are injured to such an extent that you are living, but your career is gone. All you have, as a reminder that you were once one of the best in your field are medals, trophies, articles. But it’s all gone. This is your identity. Your whole life has been building up to this career, and it’s all gone, what do you do?

Coach. What do you do if your brain able to recall things well enough to teach/coach? You are a baseball player and you can’t explain to someone the difference between a ball and a bunt?

In other words, your body is living, breathing thing. Everything is working fine, your heart, your legs, and your eyes. But what about the brain? It’s like going into a house that has just been sold and is lying vacant while the new owners wait to get in. Functional but no one home.

ECT is one of those things, which seems to have its pros and cons, each group vocal. I mentioned to a friend today I was writing something about ECT and she acted like I was writing about clubbing baby seals.

I can tell you that the man who was next to me in all my treatments did fine. His memory loss was minimal. It helped him.

But I will also tell you that those of us who have had the bad experiences are afraid to or don’t know how to write or talk about their experience.

I tell people to please make sure about ECT- it’s a procedure. Know the pros and cons and don’t let a doctor coerce you into ANY procedure. Get a second opinion. Be informed. Ask to see the facility if possible, and talk to the nurses who will be assisting.

For me, it was a mistake. Most of my memory did come back 5 years later. I no longer act like a stroke victim where I cannot string two sentences together when I talk, and point to the TV when I mean the Fridge. I can read, and I can look now at my library and recall the majority of the books I have read, albeit not in such graphic detail, hut I will settle for that.

What I cannot settle for is it destroyed my writing career. My rasion d’etre. Everything I write now seems Sophomoric, and I struggle to do that. It’s like “Flowers For Algernon”, I have been a genius, and now I am sub standard. It pains me. It’s also humbled me.

I wrote earlier had I had a gun after my treatment ended, I would have eaten it. I still feel that way now. What holds me back is the hope that if it took 5 years for my memory to right itself. Maybe my writing will come back. But to go from writing at a degree of a Hemingway- to now where most days all I can write is “Pat the Bunny” has destroyed my heart and my soul.

Sue Clark’s additional comments re ABC article & electroshock

Hi, I wrote a message about Sibile Morency’s ECT article on the message board for health at

Here is the URL below, take care, Sue


ABC reporter Sibile Morency wrote an article on July 20, 2007 called “Electroshock Therapy Gets A Makeover”
The URL for this article is:  <;

In her article Sibile Morency does not discuss the large antipsychiatry movement which opposes psychiatry
and its many psychiatric abuses and oppressions.

There is a large worldwide movement opposing electroshock therapy and wanting electroshock banned universally all over the world and this was not mentioned in Sibile’s article as well.

I am Sue Clark-Wittenberg from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  I am an electroshock (ECT)  survivor.  I am the executive director of the Wittenberg Center to End Electroshock.   I had 5 ECTs in 1973 at the age of l7 given to me against my will at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital by Dr. Louis Sipos, a psychiatrist on Ward H where I was.  On my 5th ECT, my heart stopped and I had to be revived.  I suffer from permanent memory loss and have difficulty learning new things since I have had ECT.  Prior to ECT I had no memory problems nor did I have a difficult time to learn new things and II did well in school.

In 1995, I went to Carleton University in Ottawa and had to quit school after one semester as I could not remember what I was learning.  You can’t get a job without a good education, and you can’t learn if can’t remember anything.  ECT has impeded my everyday life.  I can’t remember from hour to hour let alone from day to day and this causes havoc in my life.

The Wittenberg Center to End Electroshock website URL is:  <>
My website exposing psychiatry is at the URL:  <>

Dr. Peter R. Breggin, an American psychiatrist and author of several books some of which are entitled “Toxic Psychiatry”, “Electroshock and Its Brain Disabling Effects”,  “Talking Back to Prozac”, “Your drug may be your problem” has been very outspoken for many years about the harm done by electroshock therapy and by psychiatric drugs.  Dr. Breggin’s excellent web site is a wealth of information at the URL:  <>   Recently, Dr. Breggin wrote an article proving ECT always causes brain damage entitled
“Disturbing News for Patients and Shock Doctors Alike” which can be found at this URL:
<>    This is one article not to be missed.   Dr. Breggin is an expert on information about  electroshock and on psychiatric drugs for kids and adults.

Don Weitz who is a co-founder of the 4 year old group in Toronto, Canada called “Coalition Against Psychiatric
Abuse” (CAPA) has been has been speaking out for many years about how psychiatry harms and maims people.
CAPA’s  outstanding websites at the URLs:  <>    and   <;

Don Weitz and Dr. Bonnie Burstow co-edited the book called “Shrink Resistant:  The Struggle Against Psychiatry in Canada.

Dr. John Breeding an American psychologist and author has a group called “Coaliton to Abolish Electroshock in Texas (CAEST).  John’s great websites are at the URLs:  <>   and   <> – Dr. Breeding has written books about kids on psychiatric drugs/meds.

David Oaks, head of Mindfreedom International has a website at the URL:  <>
Mindfreedom International is a group of people all over the world fighting psychiatric abuses and oppression.

Electroshock always causes brain damage and this has been proven in many reports and studies over 40 years.
Electroshock should have been banned many years ago.   Electroshock is unethical, inhumane, torture,
barbaric and is a crime against humanity.

Every year countless of people get Electroshock.  Here are the Stats for ECT given yearly:

USA – 100,000 Americans get ECT
UK   –  50 ECTS given
Ontario, Canada  14,000 ECTs are given
Wordwide – estimated figure to be 1 to 2 million people

Everyday there are thousands of people working to help ban electrshock.   Some people include electroshock survivors, psychiatric survivors their friends and families, lawyers, mental health advocates, psychiatrists,
psychologists, nurses, medical professonals, neurologists like Dr. John Friedberg who writes about the 5 big lies about ECT.  His website is at the URL:  <>   Other people included concerned citizens, advocacy groups, and the list goes on and on.   Just google “antipsychiatry groups” or “electroshock”
“ECT” or “psychiatric survivor groups” and see the vast amount of websites exposing psychiatry for the harm that it does to people everyday.

There is no scientific proof nor test that proves that mental illness exists.

Sibile did not mention the fact that Simone D. a 58 year old woman who is a psychiatric patient at the
Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York State is being forced by a NY court to udergo 30 more
electroshocks agains her will.  She has already had 200 ECTs in the past.  In court she told them
ECT hurt her and caused her pain.  To help Simone D. please go to this website:  <>
and see all the info to help stop Simone D. from getting more ECT.

Other ECT websites are:


BE informed, BE aware of what ECT can do to you.

You can contact me by email at:  <>

Electroshock is a crime against humanity and it must stop now

Sue Clark’s comments re ABC News shock article

I am Sue Clark-Wittenberg of Ottawa, Canada. My husband Steven and I founded in 2006, the Wittenberg Center to End Electroshock (WCEE) Our websites: <> and <> My email is: <mailto:2005.sueclark@gmail.comI>2005.sueclark@gmail.comI had electroshock against my will when I was l7 years old in 1973 at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital, in Ontario, Canada. On my 5th ECT my heart stopped and I had to be revived. I suffer from permanent memory loss and have difficulty in learning new things as a result of having had ECT.

ECT should have been banned many years ago as there have been many reports and studies done to prove that ECT always causes brain damage.Dr. Peter R. Breggin wrote an article recently called “Disturbing News for Patients and Shock Doctors Alike” that is on his website at http://www.breggin.comDr.

John Breeding’s websites are: <> and <;

Don Weitz and Bonnie Burstow’s websites are: <> and <https://capacanada.wordpress.comdavid/>

<https://capacanada.wordpress.comdavid/&gt; David Oaks, is head of Mindfreedom International and his website can be found at: <http://www.mindfreedom.orgother/>http://www.mindfreedom.orgOther

ECT websites: <;, <>, <;, http://www.stopshrinks.orgStats for ECT yearly, 14,000 ECTs given in Ontario, Canada. 100,000 Americans, 50,000 ECTs given in the UK and worlwide it is estimated that 1 to 2 million get ECT.ECT is barbaric, unethical, inhumane, torture and a crime against humanity and it must be banned now

ABC News shock article

Hi everyone, here is the article by Sibile Morency of ABC News who did an article on ECT.  Thanks to David Oaks,
John Breeding, Don Weitz, and Dr. Breggin for a great
article.  A job well done!

See the comments section, I made a comment about this article.

Regards, Sue Clark-Wittenberg.
Article URL is:


Electroshock Therapy Gets a Makeover

Despite Changes, ECT still stirs controversy

By Sibile Morency
July 20, 2007

Amy, a New York resident, had her first electroshock treatment at the age of 72 … and despite the stigma that electroshock is a brutal, outdated procedure for treating psychiatric health, she said it’s been a miracle for her.

And it’s probably more common than most people believe.

“I started 10 years ago when I was very depressed. I was diagnosed as bipolar. I took medicine — Prozac, a whole slew of them — but they didn’t help,” she said. “Then a psychiatrist told one of my friends that I should have ECT. My friends told me to get ECT. It was the only solution, I couldn’t go on the way I was. After ECT, everyone told me it was a miracle.”

Amy, who asked that her last name not be used, is now 82 and continues to receive electroshock therapy regularly.

Although she admits that after each procedure she has a headache and her memory is temporarily “a little bit off,” she insists that ECT has been a success for her.

“I know there’s a lot of negative. I think it’s a rather painless procedure. It’s wonderful,” she said. “If medicine doesn’t work, then yes, I would recommend it to someone else.”

The New Face of ECT

Since its terrifying depiction in the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” electroshock, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has changed dramatically. According to doctors who use it, the administration of the anesthetic, changes in the type of electricity used and the way seizures are triggered have transformed the procedure, making it safer and more effective.

The latest clinically available form of ECT, called ultrabrief pulse unilateral, uses a briefer stimulus that lasts for .25 to .3 milliseconds, according to Dr. Sarah Lisanby at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The difference in the type of electricity used allows doctors to induce seizures with lower amounts of electricity then was previously possible.

“It does away with lifelong memory loss,” said Dr. Harold Sackheim, a leading proponent of ECT and chief of the department of biological psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “If there is any memory loss, it’s markedly reduced.”

ECT Not Uncommon

Although there are no national reporting requirements for the number of procedures performed, experts estimate that approximately 100,000 patients a year in the United States and several million worldwide receive ECT. According to Dr. Mustafa Husain, the director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Training Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the newer version of ECT is becoming the standard in practice, particularly at academic medical centers and clinics due to its relatively low amount of adverse effects on the brain.

“We started the new ECT almost a year ago. All of our equipment is now ultrabrief pulse,” he said.

Critics Call ECT Russian Roulette

Despite support from many well-respected physicians, ECT is still controversial. Critics view the procedure as a dangerous game of Russian roulette that should be banned.

“You hear from people who succeed. You don’t hear from people who lost wedding or childbirth memories,” said David Oaks, director of MindFreeedom, a nonprofit organization focused on human rights campaigns in mental health.

Dr. Peter Breggin, founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, is a staunch opponent of the practice.

“If you were in your kitchen, touched your stove and got a convulsion, you would be in the hospital. It would be treated as an emergency. You might even be given anti-seizure medication to ensure that you do not get another convulsion,” Breggin said. “Psychiatry is the only place where you damage the brain and call it a cure.”

Because unilateral ECT is a shock to the nondominant, nonverbal side of the brain, controls a person’s intuition, creativity and emotions, Breggin said patients may have a harder time explaining the side effects they might experience.

“So people when damaged on the nonverbal side can’t tell you about it. It’s a ruse,” Breggin insisted. “Ultrabrief pulse unilateral is still damaging the brain, but it’s less obvious. It cures by creating a delirium in which the patient is incapable of normal human emotion.”

John Breeding, an Austin, Texas, psychologist, is alarmed by the state of the industry.

“The shock industry is the Enron of mental health. If they’re honest, and you ask them, ‘How does shock work,’ they’ll say they don’t really know,” Breeding said.

Oaks agreed.

“They look at a problem as physical — drug, drug, drug, drug, drug — then they’ll try shock. The system is so oriented toward this medical model approach. Relapse rate is enormous, so what’s their answer? Maintenance shock,” he said. “What has happened in the industry is that research has discounted people’s memories.”

ECT experts recognize the controversial history of the procedure and acknowledge the stigma attached to it.

“The stigma affects providers and patients. The treatment is perceived by the public as brutal,” Sackheim said. “Undoubtedly people don’t receive the treatment, because they’re afraid of it. In some cases it’s quite tragic because they may not live.”

ECT proponents hope that the newer form of ECT will encourage more people to seek the procedure to cure their depression.

“Finding ways to make ECT safer, beneficial, lowers barriers to accessing the efficacy of this procedure,” said Dr. Lisanby.

Still Searching for a Cure

Doctors who use ECT are the first to admit that the complete cure for severe depression still eludes them.

“ECT can be rapidly effective in treating [depression] but always needs maintenance treatment to maintain effects,” Lisanby said.

Don Weitz, co-founder of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault, a group that opposes the use of ECT, said that the American public is in the dark about its use as a treatment.

“Most people think it no longer exists. When I meet people in the street, they say, ‘You’re kidding!’ And it’s increasingly for elderly women,” Weitz said. “Two-thirds of people who get ECT are women. This is not a treatment. It always causes brain damage and it targets women.”


Stop Shock in NY – MindFreedom Appeal

4) Keep Speaking Out: Stop Electroshock in New York State!

Readers of these alerts are taking action, and officials in New York State say they are hearing from you. Keep it up!

MindFreedom continues to call on everyone to contact five (5) New York State officials by e-mail, phone, etc. to say “no” to New York State’s continued use of “forced electroshock.”

The New York Office of Mental Health contacted the MindFreedom office and claimed their use of forced electroshock is a matter for the courts, not for their Commissioner Hogan.

But Commissioner Hogan could *speak* *out* about a dream of a New York State with zero forced electroshock!

Instead, the NY Office of Mental Health defends the practice by saying “only about a dozen” citizens receive involuntary electroshock in NY state institutions each year. Even if that’s a reliable number, that’s an average of once-a-month too many! Even one forced electroshock traumatizes all in the mental health system.

Bring the number of forced electroshocks to zero!

An alert is on the MindFreedom web site with hyperlinks to the five NY officials along with additional information.