Letter to NY Governor Spitzer – Stop Shocking “SimoneD”
July 10, 2007
Governor of New York
Ph: 518-474-8390, Fax: 518-474-1513
Dear Governor Spitzer,
I am writing re the extremely serious situation of “Simone D” whom I understand is currently incarcerated in Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital in New York State where she has been subjected to electroshock (“ECT”) and currently threatened with thirty (30) more electroshocks. This woman is not only being shocked but shocked repeatedly–over 200 times so far! —and against her will, without informed consent. She has tried to refuse electroshock and has clearly and firmly asserted, “Electroshock causes more pain! I suffer more from shock treatment!” In other words, this woman is asserting she is being tortured by this so-called safe and effective treatment.
I wish to emphasize the fact that electroshock, particularly forced electroshock, constitutes state-sanctioned violence and assault, particularly against women. Two to three times more women than men, including elderly women, are currently subjected to electroshock– “ECT” is clearly sexist and ageist. It has permanently traumatized and disabled many thousands of young and older women and thousands of other psychiatric survivors, and caused or contributed to the death of several hundred others.
Electroshock is a psychiatric procedure that always causes harm – specifically brain damage including permanent memory loss. These disastrous and permanent effects have been documented in the medical-psychiatric literature (see Sackeim et al, 2007). Further, electroshock has been publicly and repeatedly denounced by shock survivors, activists and other critics as trauma and torture–an extremely serious violation of human rights. Since a New York Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to shock “Simone D” against her will and since the New York Office of Mental Health (OMH) has officially approved forced electroshock against “Simone D”, New York State is seriously violating medical ethics and international law including the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture—both human rights documents specifically and clearly prohibit any cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and torture. In the court of public opinion, New York State stands accused of condoning and promoting electroshock as “state-sanctioned violence against women”.
I urge you to do whatever is necessary to prevent Simone D. from being electroshocked again. One shock is one too many! Please reply to my letter.
Don Weitz, co-founder, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault and insulin shock survivor
Copies to: David Peterson, Lieutenant Governor of New York
Michael Hogan, Commissioner, New York Office of Mental Health
Peter M. Rivera, Chair, New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities