Archive for the ‘Testimony’ Category

letter from Colette,a shock survivor in Ireland,posted by Don Weitz July1/08


As an involuntary electro shock survivor, I was most moved to witness Green Party Senators Deirdre De Burca and Dan Boyle present Dr Michael Corry’s Bill on involuntary electro shock and neurosurgery in the Senate yesterday.

I was given electro shock first in my teens and other sessions subsequently. My memory was severely impaired. It affected me very badly at work over the years.

A woman close to me, then a beautiful young girl, was given a lobotomy and has the mind of a child ever since. She had to spend the rest of her life in care.

The sooner this barbaric practice becomes a thing of the past, I and other electro shock survivors, will be able to breath and live more freely.


Colette Ni Dhuinneach, MindFreedom Ireland.


Bombarded by Drugs Video Now Posted

“You’ll have to excuse any lapses in memory I might experience, since I was only a child of six or seven when my experiences with psychiatric drugs began.”

The second video from the April 2005 hearings, Inquiry into Psychiatry, is now posted. Like the ECT Report video, this video also portrays moving and disturbing testimony from survivors of psychiatric medications. This is a difficult video to watch because the brave individuals who came forward to testify (and agreed to have their testimony recorded on video) lay bare very personal details of their lives that led to them being “bombarded by drugs,” rather than receiving other forms of support and therapy that would have been more appropriate. Particularly egregious examples are the multiple reports of people who were severely medicated as children or teenagers, rather than being rescued from severe physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at home and in school.

If anything, these heart-rending stories remind us of the danger of solutions looking for problems. With today’s growing arsenal of psychotropic medications, marketed heavily by the pharmaceutical industry, it is all too easy and tempting for physicians to turn to masking symptoms or controlling behaviours through chemical interventions, rather than helping an individual with underlying causes of personal turmoil.

Watch the video, and think carefully about the effects of being Bombarded by Drugs.

ECT Report Video – Now Online

“I don’t know why one man has to die thirty-six times just to prove the psychiatric field right or wrong.” – ECT Survivor testimony.

Video testimony from the Public Hearings on Electroshock, taken during the two-day Inquiry into Psychiatry held April 9-10, 2005 in Toronto, is now online. This video portrays powerful and moving testimony from electroshock survivors, telling the harrowing stories of their ordeals in their own words. For anyone who is being asked to consider electroconvulsive therapy – ECT or electroshock – as a treatment alternative for themselves or a loved one, this video is mandatory viewing. Consider it part of the “informed” portion of “informed consent.”

If you are a practitioner, a health care professional, or even a physician who uses ECT as therapy, watch and listen to the words of people who could very well have been your patients to learn about what they actually experience, and the aftermath, about which you might never hear.

If you are a politician or policy-maker involved in health care in almost every jurisdiction around the world, listen to the first-hand accounts of people who might otherwise be your constituents, and reconsider your government’s position on authorizing ECT as an acceptable treatment.

Watch the video, and think.

Shocking Quotes

“If the body is the temple of the spirit, the brain may be seen as the inner sanctum of the body, the holiest of places. To invade, violate and injure the brain, as electroshock unfailingly does, is a crime against the spirit and a desecration of the soul.”
– Leonard Roy Frank, electroshock survivor/activist/author/editor (1991)

“The escalating rate of shocking the elderly is one reason why I have come out in reent years for a complete ban on the treatment. The elderly are less able to defend themselves against shock treatment, and their brains are more susceptible to devastating damage.”
-Dr. Peter Breggin, in phone interview with Don Weitz (March 1996)

“…informed consent for ECT becomes a mirage. …I now endorse public efforts to ban ECT. The banning of ECT should be supported by all concerned mental health professionals.”
– Dr. Peter Breggin, Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (1997, p.156)

“Electro Shock Therapy – a device that might be said to do the work of the sleeping pill, the electric chair, and the torture rack. It’s a clever little procedure, simple. quick, nearly painless it happens so fast, but no one wants another one. Ever.”
-Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)

“Electroshock is violence”
– Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General and human rights advocate – invited address to the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, New York City (May 1983)

“Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient. It’s a bum turn, Hotch, terrible.”
– Ernest Hemingway in A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, 1967 [A few days after being released from the Mayo Clinic following a second ECT series. Hemingway killed himself with a shotgun.] – reprinted by Leonard R. Frank, Influencing Minds, p.161.

“Since the time I had electroshock which was 33 years ago, I have problems with permanent memory loss, problems with concentrating and learning anything new…Electroshock is brutal, unethical, torture…a crime against humanity.”
– Sue Clark, shock survivor-activist, written testimony read at Inquiry into Psychiatry, public hearings in Toronto (April 9, 2005)

ECT Testimony Videos on YouTube

Anti-electroshock activist Sue Clark-Wittenberg, together with her husband, Steven Wittenberg, have posted a number of videos describing their, and others’, experiences with electroshock (a.k.a. electroconvulsive therapy) on YouTube. A list of the links are found on the Wittenberg’s site.

Mary Maddock’s Petition Against Forced Drugging

The Illegality of Ireland’s Mental Health Act of 2001 as it Concerns the Forced Use of Mind Altering Drugs on Unwilling Patients

Petition by: Mary Maddock
Petition Host: Kathy Sinnott, MEP from Ireland South

My ‘treatment’ began in 1976 after the birth of my first child. With little or no discussion it was decided I needed medical treatment, i.e. drugs, mainly a nueroleptic called largactil, and a little later ECT as I had a chemical imbalance in my brain, without having any medical tests to make this diagnoses. I believe this to be the same as forced treatment, and I was forcefully treated with so many injections that to this day I remember the pain and soreness from the many shots.

I got no information about the treatment I received and was not capable of evaluating it myself as it is proven now that nueroleptic drugs cause a chemical lobotomy. I know this to be true from personal experience as simple tasks were a nightmare to perform and I was out of touch with my emotions.

I managed to survive this first onslaught for 7 yrs, but in 1982 I was a victim of psychiatry again and soon I was diagnosed as a manic depressive and was chemically lobotomised once again, this time by three different substances: largactil, surmontil and lithium. I remained on a combination of drugs for almost 20 yrs: on lithium and largactil for most of the time and on all three drugs for over 10 yrs.

I am now completely free from drugs for over 7 yrs and at almost 60 years old am leading a healthy and free life in body, mind, and spirit.

With the adoption of the Mental Health Act of 2001 (MHA), Ireland’s doctors now have the ability to legally force an unwilling patient to continue to take medication for real or perceived mental illness. The applicable text of sec. 60 reads:

60- Where medicine has been administered to a patient for the purposes of ameliorating his or her mental disorder for a continuous period of 3 months, the administration of that medicine shall not be continued unless either:
(a) the patient gives his or her consent in writing to the continued administration of that medicine, or
(b) where the patient is unable or unwilling to give such consent:
(i) the continued administration of that medicine is approved by the consultant psychiatrist responsible for the care and treatment of the patient, and
(ii) the continued administration of that medicine is authorised (in a form specified by the Commission) by another consultant psychiatrist following referral of the matter to him or her by the first-mentioned psychiatrist

The ramifications of this section of the MHA are startling, as what happened to myself can now be forced upon unwilling Irish citizens if two doctors believe it to be in the best interest of the patient, even without any objective standards of testing.

My friend and colleague John McCarthy was a delegate to the UN in regards to the recent convention on the rights of the disabled. The treaty, as originally worded in art. 17, left open a number of loopholes which would have allowed States Parties the ability to force involuntary treatment on a patient. His lobbying helped rewrite art. 12 so that it now reads that “every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.” Furthermore, art. 14 states that the disabled shall enjoy the same rights to liberty and security of their persons as the non-disabled, and that the existence of a disability does not “justify a depravation of liberty.” As of 30 March, 2007, both Ireland and the EU are signatories to the convention, and it is therefore binding law on both bodies.

Even before this, the Council of Europe created Europe’s most important human rights document, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950), which offers protection inter alia of privacy (Article 8); against inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3); against arbitrary deprivation of liberty (Article 5); and against discrimination in conjunction with other substantive rights (Article 14). I recognize that the EU does not have the authority to enforce these articles, but this document set the precedent for the above UN convention, and is binding on Ireland and every other nation that is current member state of the EU.

I strongly believe that the above portion of the MHA are in clear violation of international law, and respectfully ask that the EU, via the petitions committee, recommend that the involuntary forced use of mind altering medications in Ireland be stopped immediately.

Sue Clark’s Story online

Hello everyone, I have my story online now called “Behind the Locked Ward” I have six chapters up now and will write more chapters to finish my story.

The URL is:

My website exposing the harm done by ECT is at the URL:

I welcome feedback. My email is:

Sue Clark-Wittenberg, June 5, 2007

Sue Clark wrote a poem about ECT


by Sue Clark-Wittenberg, 2007

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


New Anti-Psychiatry Blog

A new blog has just been started in advance of the upcoming World Congress of Psychiatry in Dresden, Germany. The basic position taken by the “Outlaw Psychiatry Now!” blog is, “psychiatry is a tool for oppression used against ordinary people under the cover of “Medical Specialty” to secure and perpetuate the rule of big business.” Among many other things, the blog recalls the verdict of the Foucault trial on the state of psychiatry that was held 9 years ago in Berlin:

Psychiatry cannot pretend to the art of healing, having violated the Hippocratic Oath through a conscious use of harmful drugs, which caused in particular the world wide epidemic of tardive dyskinesia, as well as other interventions which we recognize as tortures: involuntary confinement, forced drugging, four point restraints, electroshock, all forms of psychosurgery and outpatient commitment.

Much more is on the blog, including testimony, activism and advocacy.

New Zealand shock survivor David O’Neill – article

Thanks to advocate Anna de Jonge for sending this – Don

Psychiatry: A fraudulent and dangerous practice.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Shock therapy ‘barbaric’ – New Zealand

By KAMALA HAYMAN – The Press | Wednesday, 9 May 2007
A Christchurch man says “barbaric” electric shock therapy failed to lift his depression but robbed him of treasured memories.

David O’Neill’s health deteriorated in 2004 after a motorcycle accident damaged his liver, bladder and thyroid and sliced his spleen in two.

He had repeated admissions to hospital for complications of his injuries and a series of unsuccessful investigations to find the cause of his chronic abdominal pain.

The frequent hospital stays and constant pain took its toll on his mental health.

“I ended up suicidal,” said O’Neill.

He was admitted to Hillmorton Hospital in 2005 for depression. On his second stay, a doctor recommended a 12-session course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which O’Neill consented to.

“I cannot even remember being admitted to the hospital, never mind giving consent for the ECT,” he said.

The treatment failed to lift his depression and it destroyed his memory. He has no recollection of his wedding day, the birth of his three children or even his childhood.

O’Neill, now 49, said that before his accident he had cared for his wife ? paralysed in a 1985 car accident ? and raised their three children.

“Now I can’t do anything. I feel as if I’m above myself all the time. I don’t feel pain; I’m emotion-free,” he said.

ECT was “barbaric” and should be banned, he said.

His family is dismayed it was not consulted and says O’Neill was not well enough to give properly informed consent.

Daughter Julieanne O’Neill said her father no longer felt any love for his family, including his two-year-old grandson.

“My dad has no feelings for him, no feelings for his family. He doesn’t feel anything for himself. He is living in an empty shell,” she said. “It has taken every single bit of my dad that was ever there away from him.”

She said some doctors appeared to see ECT as “the quickest and easiest” solution. “But it’s not them that has to go home and have this zombie person to cope with.”

Mary O’Neill said the shock treatment had stolen the husband she had known.

Psychiatric Consumers Trust advocate Liz Henderson said ECT could lift depression and transform the lives of patients. “There is a place for it.”
But it had clearly failed O’Neill.

“It has compounded what was already a difficult situation,” Henderson said.

Henderson was concerned that consent was gained without his family’s involvement. “He wasn’t well enough to make that decision.”

Vince Barry, general manager of Canterbury District Health Board mental health services, would not discuss individual patients.

However, he said it was the responsibility of clinicians to determine whether a patient was able to understand the pros and cons of ECT. “It would be unusual for someone to be given ECT without a discussion between the clinical team and close family members,” he said.

The Health and Disability Commissioner has decided against a formal investigation of O’Neill’s case and referred him to an advocate.

The Accident Compensation Corporation has refused his treatment injury claim, ruling that the ECT did not cause a physical injury.

ECT statistics (July 2004-June 2005):

307 patients given ECT (79 in Canterbury).

22 per cent did not give consent.

0.4% of mental health patients given ECT nationally.

1.1% of Canterbury mental health patients given ECT.

Fw by Anna de Jonge
Hamilton New Zealand