MindFreedom Ireland, which campaigns against the abuse of human rights in the field of mental health, will hold their sixth public protest against the practice of electroshock in Cork on Saturday, May 10th. According to the most recent figures released by the watchdog body the Irish Mental Health Commission, in 2012, three hundred and eleven programmes involving two thousand one hundred and fifty two ‘treatments’ were given to two hundred forty four people including a ninety-two year old woman. Twenty-seven people were given electroshock without consent. The Mental Health Act 2001 permits the administration of electroshock to persons who are “unable or unwilling” to give consent. The protest will feature testimony from shock survivors and takes place at The Peace Park on Grand Parade, commencing at 2 o’clock.
For almost two decades I was a victim of what I now am aware was psychiatric torture. I believe because I am a woman, it was easier to become a psychiatric victim and to be denied my right to be human. I got my first bolt of electricity just three days after childbirth on the thirtieth of January 1976. I continued to be electrocuted for the month of February until the middle of March, twelve more times while simultaneously being drugged into oblivion.
The electrocution I received then without informed consent was what is now described as ‘modified ECT.’ I was transformed from a twenty-eight-year-old, happy, optimistic, musical woman to a person who could not think or feel. My capacity to be myself was severely diminished. Electroshock damaged my brain and made it very difficult to be a first-time mother to my newborn daughter. I do not remember holding her in my arms for the first time. We were separated until June. My heart was broken. When we were finally united, the system had succeeded in returning me to my family full of fear, and suffering from the adverse effects of the psychotropic drugs I had been prescribed.
I received more sessions of electroshock in 1983 and eventually I was labeled a ‘manic depressive,’ which now, unfortunately, has become a more acceptable label to many by renaming it ‘Bipolar.’ It has also made it easier to label young children.
Electroshock is a major part of the toolkit of psychiatry, which is diagnosing human behaviour as a ‘mental illness.’ Psychiatry is a fraudulent belief system. It masquerades as a medical science while it has very little scientific evidence. It calls electroshock a ‘treatment’ while it has no idea how it works, yet all doctors know that electroshock produces a grand mal seizure, which definitely causes brain damage. If a seizure did not cause brain damage, why do general doctors regard it as an emergency when a person has a spontaneous seizure?
Today, electroshock is on the increase worldwide and many more women receive it than men, though statistics suggest that more men than women take their own lives. One of the reasons for giving electroshock is supposed to be to prevent suicide! Psychiatrists are very powerful people and are backed up by powerful companies, companies who conduct false trials in order to convince the public that black is white! Psychiatrists are trying to indoctrinate the public into believing that somehow the electroshock today is different from the electroshock I received in 1976 and 1983, but it is not! Then, I was not conscious when I received it; it was under anesthetic, as it is today, so it was not and is not visible to others when one has an epileptic fit. So in fact this kind of electroshock can cause more brain damage because under sedation, more voltage is needed to cause a fit, which is the desired effect of electroshock in the first place.
C.S. Lewis said;
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Psychiatry’s pursuit of power over human beings has caused untold suffering and the destruction of lives in the name of ‘treatment.’ It inflicts electroshock on innocent victims, often elderly women, and it is vitally important that people speak out and take action to stop this barbaric practice. In addition to Asylum, two other organisations – MindFreedom International and CAPA (Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault) – were an inspiration to me. The former organised a successful campaign to highlight the forced treatment of Ray Stanford and Elizabeth Ellis and is currently running a campaign of Actions to Stop Electroshock Human Rights Violations. MindFreedom urges us to contact the World Health Organisation, which says it has a new ‘toolkit’ on human rights and mental health. WHO officially opposes all involuntary electroshock so you can ask what it is doing to make that a reality.
You can use WHO’s web form to comment here: bit.ly/who-web-form, or you can send a postcard or letter here: WHO; Avenue Appia 20; 1211 Geneva 27; Switzerland.
Following their Toronto Conference in May 2010, CAPA issued the following declaration:
“1. WHEREAS research has established to a level of statistical significance that electroshock causes brain damage by causing seizure and through the electrical current, and indeed, that it does so in all its forms whether it be unilateral or bilateral, traditional pulse width or ultra brief pulse, whether it be called classical electroshock or new modified electroshock;
2. WHEREAS electroshock always causes permanent memory loss;
3. WHEREAS electroshock frequently causes psychological trauma;
4. WHEREAS electroshock frequently causes permanent impairment and loss in creativity;
5. WHEREAS research establishes conclusively that electroshock is no more effective than placebo in alleviating depression or preventing suicide—the one effect which it is said to effectively address—and placebo causes none of the problems listed above;
6. WHEREAS despite decades of government committing themselves to informed consent, informed consent to electroshock remains a fiction;
7. WHEREAS electroshock disproportionately targets and discriminates against women, mothers diagnosed with “postpartum depression”, and elderly people;
8. WHEREAS many people experience electroshock as a serious violation of human rights, specifically as an assault on people’s dignity and as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
We the scholars, psychiatric survivors, students, and activists attending the PsychOut Conference, an international academic conference being held at University of Toronto, May 7 and 8, 2010, some of whom have personally experienced electroshock and have been damaged by it, take the following position:
- Electroshock is not a treatment which should in any way receive state financing or support
- We see governments as ethically obliged to stop funding electroshock
- We support provincial and state legislation everywhere whose purpose is to remove public funding for electroshock
I was privileged to be present at the Toronto CAPA PsychOut Conference in 2010 to deliver a workshop with shock recipient Linda Andre, who had just published her excellent book, ‘Doctors of Deception,’ at the time. Being inspired by her work and that of Don Weitz and David Oaks and many others has motivated us in MindFreedom Ireland to hold what would be Ireland’s first public anti-shock protest in Cork in May 2007, an event which was reported in the national press. We have subsequently staged a further four protests. The late Dr. Michael Corry was a staunch ally in the campaign, which also included participation in national TV and radio programmes. Writing in 2008, Dr. Corry described the use of electroshock as “archaic, irrational and barbaric. It is a Holocaust of the brain, a brutal Final Solution.” In the most recent TV programme in May 2012, MindFreedom Ireland activist Colette ni Dhuinneacha debated head to head with a representative of the Irish College of Psychiatry and was more than able to refute the pro-shock arguments that were presented.
MindFreedom Ireland was also part of the Delete Article 59b Campaign to outlaw forced electroshock, which was organised by Dr. Corry, Dr. Pat Bracken and the late John McCarthy, and which succeeded in having a private members bill to that effect being introduced in the Senate, the upper house of the Irish parliament. While the imminent revision of the 2001 Mental Health Act proposes to eliminate the word ‘unwilling,’ regrettably it will still contain the word ‘unable,’ which I believe will in effect make no difference; nevertheless, our campaign will continue. Thanks to the internet – YouTube, Facebook, etc. – we have the advantage of a powerful tool to help us in our struggle. Our Facebook campaign to ‘Stop the Forceful Use of ‘Therapy’ passed the 10.000 mark in September. The internet can also facilitate the mutual exchange of ideas, information and support and empower us to combine to ultimately achieve a world in which my two granddaughters can live free from an outdated and barbaric practice.