Statement and Poem by Shock Survivor Sue Clark

Psychiatry Tortured Me by Sue Clark-Wittenberg

I applaud and congratulate MindFreedom Ireland today for organizing a protest against the use of electroshock.

My name is Sue Clark-Wittenberg and I am from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
I am an electroshock survivor and activist. I am the director of the International Campaign to Ban Electroshock – The ICBE for short.

The ICBE is demanding that all world governments abolish ECT.

I am also the chair of the MindFreedom International committee for ECT and Human Rights.

I was tortured by psychiatry for 18 years from 1972 to 1990. I was given 5 ECTs, 15 different psychiatric diagnoses/labels and was given 14 different types of psychiatric medications/pills during the time I was psychiatrized.

I have been free of psychiatry since 1990.

I was 17 years old in 1973 when I was forced to have electroshock against my will
at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital in Ontario, Canada. I did not want ECT. I protested and told Dr. Louis Sipos my psychiatrist on Ward H not to give ECT to me.

I told Dr. Sipos that ECT would fry my brain like frying an egg and that ECT would damage my brain and it did. Dr. Sipos told me I was going to have ECT no matter what I said. Dr Sipos argued with me and said ECT was safe and I knew better. On my 5th ECT my heart stopped and I had to be revived.

Since I had ECT, I suffer from permanent memory loss and have difficulty learning new things. The damage from ECT has impeded my iife significantly. I can’t remember anything from hour to hour, miss many appointments and this has caused chaos in my day to day living. I can’t get organized no matter what I do.

I went to Carleton University in 1995 . After one term I had to leave my studies as I could not remember (retain) what I was learning. You can’t learn anything if you can’t remember. You can’t get a good job unless you have a good education. ECT robbed me of my personal potential.

If I was able to remember and learn, what would I have become? a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, no one really knows….I lost the financial stability of having a good job and improving my life.

ECT harmed my brain, my mind, my body, my spirit and my soul. No one had the right to torture me with ECT but they did. They did because nobody cared and ECT
generates big money to put into their pockets at whose expense?

I believe ECT to be barbaric, inhumane, unethical, torture and a crime against humanity and it must be abolished all over the world. It is estimated that 1 to 2 million people get ECT worldwide yearly.

ECT is a human rights issue.

No one should have to go through what I did with ECT.

In my estimation, I call psychiatry the biggest medical fraud out there today.

I wrote a poem about my first experience with ECT in 1973.


by Sue Clark-Wittenberg
April 4, 2007 copyright

The day I got my first ECT
I recall the room was white
the nurses wore white
the doctor wore white
and I was white as a sheet with fright

I lay on my back on the bed
with wires put on both sides of my head
a rubber band put on my forehead
and a rubber mallet stuck in between my teeth

I was scared to death, terrified
I wanted to jump up and run
but I could not
I saw the ECT machine
right to my left
and knew that horrible machine
was going to be turned on
any minute
and it would hurt my brain
and it did

I woke up after the ECT
dizzy, confused and did
not know who I was
where I was

I was put in a wheelchair
I missed my breakfast
and had to wait for lunch

a peer on my ward
told me many years later
that when the staff grabbed me
to take me to the ECT room
I screamed, kicked and bit the
staff and hollered
“Somebody, anybody, please
help me”
But nobody did

ECT hurt my brain
No one told me the
truth about what ECT
would do to me
because nobody cared

So that is why I want ECT the atrocity that it is
to be banned, to end,
to stop now
so no one else has to
go through the torture
like I did which is called ECT

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