Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Eric  Jonsgaard
Senior Director
Guardianship Options
Lutheran Social Services of America/LSSA

Dear Mr. Jonsgaard,
Of behalf of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), we are writing to you re the legal case of Mr. Ray Sandford. We understand that your social services organization has been appointed general guardian for Mr. Sandford, and that Ms. Tonya Wilhelm, a staff or volunteer worker with LSSA, has been assigned his “guardian ad litem.” We also understand that Mr. Sandford has been court-ordered to undergo electroshock (“ECT”) on a weekly or  bi-weekly basis against his will, and that he is appealing this forced treatment. Further, we understand that Mr. Sandford has already undergone 37 or 38 electroshocks and that more will be administered –over his expressed and repeated refusals.

One of CAPA’s top priority issues is organizing against electroshock and working toward a universal ban. We therefore are very concerned whenever people are forced to undergo a psychiatric procedure like electroshock—without informed consent. We wish to point out that we are credible critics of electroshock and very knowledgeable about its many health risks including permanent memory loss and brain damage. We therefore strongly and publicly oppose electroshock. In our collective judgement, forcibly shocking Mr. Sandford constitutes assault, a serious violation of his human rights. Although LSSA may have no direct role or authority re Mr. Sandford’s electroshocks and court appeal, it has chosen to be remain silent, despite the fact that Mr. Sandford has given permission to human rights and advocacy organizations to publicize his situation
Although LSSA may not be a participant or have no authority to intervene in Mr. Sandford’s court case, as a progressive and religious organization it has a moral and public responsibility to speak out on ethics and human rights issues. It is our judgement that electroshock, particularly forced electroshock, is a serious violation of medical ethics and Ray Sandford’s human rights. In this light, we urge the LSSA to at least question the morality of using the authority and police powers of Minnesota to force a vulnerable citizen like Ray Sandford to undergo electroshock. We point out that this so-called  “safe, effective, and lifesaving treatment” has permanently damaged the lives and careers of many of our relatives, friends and colleagues in Canada, the United States and other countries. We fear that electroshock has already damaged Mr. Sandford’s brain and destroyed his life. (See websites,

We look forward to your reply.


Dr. Bonnie Burstow, Chair, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA)

Shaindl Diamond, PhD, Candidate, Dept of  Counselling Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Member of CAPA

Mel Starkman, Member of CAPA

Don Weitz, Member of CAPA

Executive Committee, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault


C: Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Ecumenical Lutheran Church of America/ELCA

Miriam L. Woolbert, Ecumenical Lutheran Church of America/ELCA,

Communication Services

Please reply to: Dr. Bonnie Burstow –