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.

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