letter re shock & drugs – rejected

6/29/08

Letters Editor
The Globe and Mail
letters@globeandmail.ca

Dear Editor,
As an insulin shock survivor and researcher, I resent the misinformation and myths about electroshock (“ECT”) and psychiatric drugs hyped as medical or scientific facts by columnist Margaret Wente (“The romance-of-madness myth”, June 28.)

MYTH: “Modern psychopharmacology…a boon for many…a godsend for millions of the ordinary walking wounded.” Nonsense.
FACT: The neuroleptics (“antipsychotics”) have already caused an epidemic of brain damage and neurological disorders (e.g., tardive dyskinesia, akathisia, parkinsonism, neuroleptic malignant syndrome), disability, sometimes death. Equally alarming, the SSRI antidepressants (e.g., Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft..) frequently trigger suicidal ideas and attempts, as well as homicides. About 4 years ago, environmental-social justice activist Tooker Gomberg jumped off a bridge in Halifax 2 weeks after a psychiatrist prescribed the antidepressant Remeron and failed to warn him of the risk of suicide – a “side effect”.

MYTH: “…people [have] been eased of their tremendous suffering by … electroshock therapy.”
FACT: Electroshock (“ECT”) doesn’t ease suffering; it traumatizes and causes closed head injury or brain damage, including permanent memory loss (“cognitive dysfunction”). I have talked with, listened to and/or corresponded with approximately 100 survivors in Canada, United States, the UK, and New Zealand during the last 25 years; all have been permanently harmed by electroshock–years of memory, personal knowledge and life experiences completely erased; ability to concentrate, study, write and create seriously impaired; professional careers and lives ruined. In Canada and the United States, two to three times more women then men are electroshocked, typically without informed consent—young women labeled with ‘postpartum depression’ and elderly women are at greatest risk. Many hundreds have died from this “safe, effective and lifesaving treatment”. A few of many relevant facts Wente doesn’t mention. She also doesn’t quote any psychiatric survivors who’ve suffered these horrors and want shock banned. Why not?

Don Weitz
Co-founder, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault
Toronto

1401-38 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto M4R 2G3

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