Woman Wrongly Diagnosed – and Shocked 200 times – Receives an Apology


Joan Bellingham has received an apology – after 10 years of legal wrangling – from New Zealand’s Crown Health Financing Agency (CHFA) for wrongful diagnoses and treatments – including 200 rounds of ECT – received between 1970 and 1982.  Bellingham was diagnosed with “neurotic personality disorder” which – three years later – was revised to schizophrenia. Bellingham says the settlement includes a small award (“…enough for a holiday”) but that “even though I always knew I wasn’t a drug user, a schizophrenic or an alcoholic, all of those things were still on my notes” and now she feels “free.” As of June 2010 the CHFA faced more than 250 such claims.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I believe this woman is owed far more than an apology. A man recently released from prison after proving wrongful conviction was automatically granted over $1 million for his wasted, robbed years as reported on a news show. Psych survivors know, however, criminals, guilty or innocent, have far more rights than anyone dealing with the so called mental heatlh profession who collude with the legal system to rob the victims of all their rights in the guise of mental health per Attorney Jim Gottstein and the many victims experiencing their kangaroo courts.

    This case is disgusting and exposes the gross fraud and evil pervading the so called mental health system and the government system that allows it to line the pockets of government hacks with revolving doors with BIG PHARMA/BUSINESS.

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