Electroshock Causes More Harm Than Good


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:

  1. Electroshock is not a treatment which should in any way receive state financing or support
  2. We see governments as ethically obliged to stop funding electroshock
  3. 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.


  1. Hi Mary, Thanks for the article, people think of ECT as something from the past, but it’s still happening. Electric Shock is more likely to cause brain damage than to cure mental illness, how can electricity be good for the brain.

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  2. Hi Mary

    Thank you for your wonderful courage, and always standing up and speaking out for what is truly wrong with psychiatry. Your voice has strengthened so many other voices, and has helped countless others believe in their own healing. I am a big fan of yours and know that your story of healing and triumph is truly awe inspiring. You have so much love and support for all those around you in Cork, as well as internationally. Keep up the great work!

    Many blessings! xx

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  3. I have a question: Here in the US I hear more and more about “maintenance ECT” in which some people get shocked every 90 days or so for several years at a time. This REALLY alarms me. We know that frequent mild concussions can be more damaging than one or two big ones. And in treating epilepsy it’s often claimed that repeat seizures have to be prevented at all costs because they’ll lead to permanent damage.

    This seems to have been the kind of ECT imposed on Ray Sandiford in Minnesota. Has anyone else heard of this in other areas?

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    • Johanna here is a link to the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network Report for 2013. On page 21/52 it gives a chart, Figure 1.5, of Number and % of continuation/ maintenance episodes, by year (2006-2012):

      So in 2012 it says that 14 “episodes” of ECT were continuation/maintenance, just over 3% of total given.

      from p20/52: “Scottish ECT Accreditation Network Annual Report 2013; A summary of ECT in Scotland for 2012. The effects of ECT may be short lived so it is recommended that, following a successful episode of ECT, patients are commenced on some form of treatment to prevent relapse. Sometimes drugs and psychological therapies do not work and patients appear to benefit from continuation ECT (to maintain improvement) or maintenance ECT (to prevent relapse). The number of patients undergoing continuation/maintenance ECT in Scotland remains low as a percentage of total episodes (Figure 1.5). However, as the method of recording/determining which episodes are continuation/maintenance is not yet sufficiently robust, this may be an underestimate.”

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  4. Great article Mary. I’d just like to say thank you to Mary Maddock and Mindfreedom Ireland for the fantastic support they give to others injured by psychiatric ‘care’ and the medical model aka mind-altering drugs. She’s an inspiration and a huge support to Irish victims and their families.
    There are very few people willing to stick up for ‘mental health’ victims. I am so thankful for Mary’s tenacity and kindness, despite the horrendous torture she herself was subjected to, done under the guise of Irish ‘care’.
    Thank you Mary.
    Leonie xx

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  5. In Western Australia government has just approved the use of ECT on a14 year olds. I note that the claim is that the use of this treatment will be rare.


    I believe that the only thing that has been holding psychiatrists back in using this treatment on children has been the threat of litigation. This is effectively approval for an experiment on children, minus that threat.

    I also note that the same newspaper followed up on this story with this article soon after.


    What ever happened to balanced journalism? Where is the counter argument? This has been nothing more than removing the threat of litigation, and a grooming of the public to believe that the experiment psychiatrists wish to conduct on children will be good for them.

    Thank you for your article Mary, at least i have somewhere to direct those who may be fooled into believing this blatant propaganda regarding this barbaric practice.

    Kind regards

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  6. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. I hope someday we will be free from medical harm which poses as ‘treatment’. I hope with excellent blogs, websites and other alternative media fora we will eventually convince the public that causing brain damage cannot be helpful. It is amazing that most people still think that it could be a solution for human distress.

    It is so difficult for those who are severely damaged by electroshock and drug spellbinding to realize that they are indeed brain damaged by psychiatry but those who work in the so called ‘mental health’ system should be aware today because of all the information they can find now. There is no excuse for ignorance. There is no excuse to continue brain damaging people in the name of ‘help’. If I could put the pieces together after severe brain damage for two decades surely so called ‘mental health’ providers who have not been brain damaged should know they are harming innocent victims now!
    It is outrageous that they still forcefully brain damage people they feign to ‘help’.

    Here is a little piece I wrote about our electroshock protest which took place in Cork, Ireland yesterday. There was another protest in Montreal, Canada the same day.


    Many of the people who took part in our protest this year travelled some distance to be with us, some very long distances! It shows the commitment they have to our peaceful revolution. Many of them as you can see from this photo were women! They care for all the women worldwide who are in danger of receiving electroshock without informed consent. In Ireland even a 92 year old woman received electroshock. The weather was cold, windy and wet but that did not stop people who want a better way for everyone. When some people are treated unjustly then we all suffer the consequences! One of the best results for all who took part was that we bonded together as a community with a common purpose!

    Long live our peaceful revolution!

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  7. http://www.casper.org.nz/
    My thoughts on suicide
    I have lived for 66 years. The only time I was suicidal was when I was on maintenance electroshock in ‘hospital’ while also being experimented on with various neuroleptics and other psychiatric drugs. At the same time I was separated from my first born baby while breastfeeding three days later. We continued to be separated for 4 months. At the same time I had a loving family and with the man I still love today with all my heart. I had a baby I wanted to be with all my heart and soul also. It is very clear to me today that psychiatric harm can cause suicide. Many other people have taken their lives because of psychiatric ‘ diagnoses’ and the so called ‘treatment’ it doles out. Let there be more ‘See Change’ about this cause of suicide!

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    • The only time I tried to commit suicide is when I was tortured in a hospital by being forced drugged intravenously and put in the cage bed with restraints. It’s amazing how the psychiatry can switch someone from being moderately unhappy to completely miserable in a few minutes.
      I would love to see a study which shows if use of abusive practices like isolation, restraints, forced drugging etc. can cause suicide and/or violence. I’ve looked for it but could not find one and I can imagine that this would not be in the interest of people who practice such torture.

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  8. There was this girl at the hospital I was in for my first ever inpatient who I remember was always stating “I hate this F-ing hospital and want to go home” and was also very upset about missing a party one of her teen friends was having and complained about that alot.

    She was sent for ECT and came back with this like smile stuck on her face but was out of it and was too disabled to socialize with me and her other friends at the hospital. I guess they called that “better” no more stating “I hate this hospital and want to go home”.

    What they did to her was not consensual or “treatment for illness”, She didn’t want it or ask for it, it was an assault.

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    • Poor girl… It’s truly scary and disgusting. ECT should be banned period. There is no question, as in case of drugs, whether it can have some positive effects. It’s causing brain damage. Lobotomy was also very “effective”, and there is a good reason why it’s illegal now. ECT is no different, instead of chopping off a part of your brain it induces seizure-related damage. I bet that hitting someone over the head with a club can be similarly effective (in fact hitting someone hard on the head can cause temporary euphoria). Calling that treatment is insane.

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    • I know someone in the UK who was threatened with ECT because she was kicking up a fuss with the staff. The staff used the phrase, “It happens all the time you know.”

      This was a threat of assault to the brain for being uppity and questioning the staff about their right to detain and force unwanted treatment on a vulnerable women. This is worse than what happens in prisons

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  9. Here’s my theory on why research finds that ECT “works.” After a client has had three or four sessions, they figure out the right thing to say:

    “Wow, doc, I feel SO much better now! I’m totally cured! Thank you SO much for that incredibly helpful treatment… now, can you unlock the door so I can run as far away from here as I can get!!!!!”

    Chalk up another psychiatric success story!

    —- Steve

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    • That’s how I got weaned off drugs. I realized pretty quickly that every time I said a drug made me sick, more were added, and / or I was switched to similar equally toxic drugs. So I stopped telling my doc how sick his drugs were making me. His medical records do note his confusion regarding my ability to not complain about his toxic drug cocktails that consisted of six drugs, all with major drug interaction warnings. Sickos!

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  10. You know. I’m always slightly shocked when people go to the trouble of uncovering the exact reasons to support a theory that electroshock is bad. They’re randomly shocking your brain (and no, I don’t want to hear the psychiatric argument of why they claim to know what they’re doing). You wouldn’t pump a person full of chemo simply because you thought they might have cancer somewhere in their lungs… psychiatry seems to enjoy all the benefits of being “medicine” and none of the responsibility.

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