Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

CAPA letter to Canadian Pensioners Concerned


Dear Canadian Pensioners Concerned,Ontario Division,

We wish to call CPC’s attention to the psychiatric procedure called electroshock (“electroconvulsive therapy”/”ECT”). Contrary to popular belief, electroshock was never banned or restricted in Canada. Unfortunately, it is increasingly administered to women, mainly elderly women, usually without informed consent or against their will. We have compiled ECT statistics from the Ontario government’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that clearly show that two to three times more women than men are electroshocked, the overwhelming majority of these women are 60 years and older.

Since electroshock always causes some permanent memory loss and brain damage and since elderly women are its main targets, electroshock should be considered a form of elder abuse and violence against women. In this context, we urge you to read these two major articles by one of us, Dr. Bonnie Burstow:
”Understanding and Ending ECT: A Feminist Imperative”. Canadian Woman Studies, vol.25, numbers 1,2, 115-122 ( 2006), and
“Electroshock as a Form of Violence Against Women”. Violence Against Women, Vol 12, no.4. 372-392 (April 2006). Dr. Burstow is on the faculty in the Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto; she is also a widely-respected feminist, trauma specialist, author, chair of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), a long-time friend and colleague.

For your further information, we are also pleased to attach a copy of the article titled “Electroshocking Elderly People: Another Psychiatric Abuse”, International Journal of Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy, vol.15 no.2 (May 1997), written by Don Weitz. We also are attaching a copy of a recent media release, “Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers”, the theme of a Mother’s Day event on May 10,2009 in Toronto, organized by CAPA. Similar anti-shock events on Mother’s Day were also held last month in Montreal and Ireland, and last year in Ottawa as well.

We would appreciate your forwarding this letter and attachments to the CPC Board including Co-chairs Sylvia Hall and Margaret Watson, and Ms. Moyra Haney, chair of your Health/Environment Committee.
We very much hope that CPC puts electroshock on its agenda as a major health and human rights issue that must be addressed. If so, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to your reply.

Dr. Bonnie Burstow, Chair, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault
Dianne Moore, Executive Member
Don Weitz, Executive Member
Executive Committee, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault

Contact: Dr. Bonnie Burstow,, ph:416-538-7103; Don Weitz,, 416-545-0796