Protesting a Psychiatric Atrocity


On May 16, 2015, protests against electroconvulsive therapy or ECT will take place around the world.  To support this educational campaign, I am releasing my newest Simple Truths about Psychiatry video which is titled “Shock Treatment is Trauma.

Ted Chabasinski, an attorney, is an organizer of the protest.  Ted recently talked about his personal experiences and the upcoming protests on my radio show, “The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.”  We agreed that money and power is not the only motivation of shock doctors.   Many are taking out their violent impulses on their helpless victims.

Ted Chabinski on the Dr. Breggin Hour, April 8 2015.

Ted received 20 shock treatments as a six-year-old at the hands of child psychiatrist Loretta Bender at New York City’s infamous Bellevue.  Bender, who boasted about shocking more than 200 children, remains beloved among biological psychiatrists and was cited in a positive fashion in psychiatrist David Healy’s recent paean to shock treatment.  In his book, Shock Treatment, Healy uses Bender as a positive example of ECT. He might as well have been describing exactly how Bender treated 6-year-old Ted Chabasinski when he explains approvingly that she “had administered daily treatments to ninety-eight children ages four to eleven for a typical course of about twenty treatment” (p. 137).  As Healy states, daily ECT is “intensive ECT,” an approach no longer accepted, except by Healy and a very few other ECT extremists, because it is known to cause severe neurological dilapidation.

Among those of us opposed to brain-damaging therapies, Bender the “scientific” child abuser is to psychiatry as Mengele the “scientific” child abuser was to Nazi extermination camps.  Both are extreme examples of violence unleashed on helpless incarcerated children in the name of medical research.

What’s wrong with shock treatment?   How does it work?   It’s not as mysterious as the advocates make out.   Shock works by passing an electric current through one or both frontal lobes of the brain, producing an electrical lobotomy.  The electricity also passes through the memory centers of the temporal lobe, causing additional devastation.   Finally, the current passes throughout the brain and that, along with the severe seizures that result, causes widespread brain dysfunction and damage.   Some patients initially become euphoric from the damage, whereupon the shock doctor notes approvingly, “mood elevated.”   All patients eventually become apathetic and indifferent, and unable to resist, whereupon the doctor notes with finality about the outcome, “no longer complaining.”

My wife Ginger and I have spent innumerable hours creating a free website about shock treatment:   It offers a simple introductory statement and a color brochure for widespread distribution.  It also provides PDFs of more than 100 scientific articles with a search mechanism that quickly links to specific subjects such as “women,” “children,” “elderly,” “brain damage,” “memory loss,” “animal research,”  “ineffectiveness,” “suicide,” “ECT machines,” “FDA” and more.

Shock treatment is an abuse and should be rejected by the public and professionals alike.  I hope the May 16th protests draw international attention to this assault masquerading as treatment.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Electricity passing through the brain cannot be focused like a laser beam, it takes the path of least resistance where ever that may be. Imagine if a brain surgeon did not care where he cut when he opened up a skull. Police officers in the USA are required to be tased before being issued a taser. Were this requirement extended for the practitioners for ECT, you would see the practice abolished.

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    • My view is that shocking a person is a moronic way of diagnosing that the individual is *already in* a state of crippling shock.

      psychic trauma,
      an emotional shock or injury or a distressful situation that produces a lasting impression, especially on the subconscious mind. Some causes of psychic trauma may include abuse or neglect in childhood, rape, and loss of a loved one. Psychotherapeutic sessions in which the injured person can ventilate feelings can help alleviate psychic trauma.

      One does not heal rape by raping.
      One does not heal shock by shocking.

      I would like for psychiatry to account for how many lives they have accurately diagnosed as having been catastrophically impacted, resulting in devastating and debilitating shock.

      It should be obvious and it should go without saying but, clearly and certainly, a person in such condition does not have a genetic disorder or organic brain disease.

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  2. Of course I see ECT as abusive and traumatic, but I’ve known a couple of people who insist it is hope for them–one for herself, and one on behalf of her mother. Personally, I have a terribly hard time with this, because I feel it is some kind of addiction to trauma and abuse. I believe that can happen to us, from familiarity, repetition, and chronic distortion of the truth. It’s hard to know where to begin to unravel all of this toxic thinking which allow for such practices. It is toxic and distorted perceptions that lead to such barbarism on unsuspecting vulnerable people, who are merely looking for help and support.

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    • Hi Alex,
      Most of the reports of benefit from electroshock are by shock docs and family members of the shock victim. Yes, some folks do give personal accounts of benefit, but they are rare. I’m not against adults choosing brain damage as treatment. It happens all the time as a consequence of neurosurgery, but surgeons inform the patients of the risk and are targeting specific locations in the brain. Damage is not the aim, and they do their best to keep it to a minimum. Shock docs have no idea where the shock damage occurs. It’s scattered throughout the brain.

      When I was teenager, I thought the doctors were working to cure me of whatever ailed me. I trusted them. We did in those days. We didn’t question them. I was apathetic about the electroshock for many years. I think when you’re used to abuse you get to the stage whereby you only recognize it in it’s extreme forms. Someone had to point out to me that shocking me was wrong. I only discovered the physics of it 35 years later.

      The general public needs to be told what the voltages, amps, durations, etc., are. In my country the household electricity supply is 240 volts. I know some shock machines go up to 450 volts. I had no idea that I was essentially plugged into the mains for 6 seconds, 10 times over.

      I can understand why people would want to be shocked if it had a positive effect, but at what cost? You can be perfectly happy in cognitive decline as long as you either don’t notice it or are apathetic about it. I know this, because my mother is happier than she’s ever been, in my memory, now that she has Alzheimer’s. However, that’s no reason not to ban it. We can’t trust the shock docs to fully inform voluntary patients and as long as we have a culture of forced treatment, those who can’t say no, or whose opposition to it is ignored, will be tortured.

      Take care,

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      • “When I was teenager, I thought the doctors were working to cure me of whatever ailed me. I trusted them. We did in those days. We didn’t question them.”

        Exactly, that’s what I’m talking about, distorted thinking. I had this, too, and most people still do. The vast majority of us, in general, grew up believing this, that doctors were to whom we turned when we wanted something ‘cured’ or at least relieved and alleviated. And what have we discovered and are continuing to discover more and more vividly these days? That not only are their many, many pathways to integral healing and curing illness that have nothing at all to do with this western medical system and perception, but also that many in the medical profession are doing a great deal of harm to unsuspecting, poorly informed people–to those of us who have or had been walking around thinking that doctors are here to cure us, that this is their dominant agenda. Whereas, we all know there are other, less noble agendas happening, at the expense of the patient, as you describe, and at great loss to the general global community.

        All because of this one false belief, by which we live and operate. It is our naive and blind faith, trust, and belief in the ‘the healing power of doctors’ that guide us there to begin with–or if we don’t guide ourselves there, it is the ignorance and false beliefs of the family or legal system. The idea that doctors cure us and alleviate suffering is a toxic belief because it is what leads us down the wrong path–e.g., to ECT, because the doctor said so, they confer!

        “I think when you’re used to abuse you get to the stage whereby you only recognize it in it’s extreme forms. Someone had to point out to me that shocking me was wrong. I only discovered the physics of it 35 years later.”

        Yes, I totally agree. We do become inured to that which is familiar to us, even when it is insidiously harmful. After I finally defected from the system and found my life, health, and sanity again, at first, I’d have to ask my partner if someone was being emotionally abusive and demeaning, because that’s what I had gotten so used to and it had become hard to distinguish subtle abuse from normal everyday reality. It was like deprogramming from a cult This kind of double talk gas-lighting reality and communication seemed standard procedure in the mental health community, part of the culture to talk this way to or about people. It was surreal, at best, and literally maddening for all concerned.

        That’s what I had to awaken to. AND, I learned the physics about this, later, too! It’s energy, just like the electricity, extremely potent.

        It’s really quite remarkable the extent to which we have allowed ourselves to be abused–tormented, in fact, in many ways–all in the name of believing that doctors were doing the work of God. People don’t heal other people, we heal ourselves. Others can only support and encouragement, what we call ‘holding the space.’ That takes grounding, neutrality, and subtle self-awareness.

        Good to know the truth now, so changes can occur with better awareness and, hopefully, a bit of ease. Although the jury is still out on the ease factor. Depends on how ruggedly people cling to those false beliefs. It can be hard to shift, because it tests everything we know. But again, that is how change occurs, when our long- held beliefs, by which we swear, are tested. I believe the entire global culture is being tested in this regard, especially when it comes to medicine, and even more especially, when it comes to psychiatry. More and more people are discovering daily that it is only injurious, never healing.

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    • This is very true, I have had “brain zaps” ever since I was improperly weaned off of Wellbutrin – 15 years ago. It seems they just go away in most people, but not in all. If anyone knows how to get rid of them, please let me know.

      The doctors I’ve dealt with don’t know how to get rid of them, other than to claim they’re “bipolar” and create psychosis with their neuroleptics, which is worse than the “brain zaps.”

      “neuroleptics … may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

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  3. ECT certainly seems like a terribly barbaric treatment. I don’t know what to say, however, to two people I know who claim that ECT cured their depression and saved their lives. As awful as it sounds it does seem to work for some people.

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    • madincanada – I really appreciated the your comment that elsewhere mentioned the basic facts of coming to terms with your children, and putting the arrest orders for treatment behind you. My mom had to go through, and gradually my sisters also now are, simliar tranformations of their atitudes about what was “best” for me. So, knowing you’ve thought this over just to a point and from various perspectives, I want to lend support to the common sense exception to the idea your friends have about being saved by ECT. It just is what was tried. Nothing like what should have been tried. What could have been tried. And what mattered to try besides brain shocks.

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      • Peter asked me to share this comment with you (he is in session with a client right now).

        Peter Breggin: “People frequently note that they know someone who believes they were helped by ECT. For several reasons, this cannot be used to support ECT. First, consider what happens when an antibiotic that helps millions of people is discovered to cause severe liver damage in a few dozen people. It is likely to be taken off the market because there’s no way to determine who will be helped and who will be harmed. Second, of the millions of people given ECT over the decades, a remarkably tiny number have come forward in support of it. Whole organizations of ECT victims have been formed but no organization of post-ECT supporters. In my clinical experience, most people become so helpless after ECT that they cannot do anything requiring a high level of functioning, such as organize in support of the “treatment.” Third, when people are subjected to brain-damaging treatments, the resultant brain dysfunction typically renders them unable to full recognize or appreciate the harm that has been done to them. Patients don’t exaggerate their mental losses after ECT the way Dr. Healy suggests in his book; patients tend to minimize their losses. This is true whether the damage is inflicted by a blow on the head or by an electric shock through the skull, followed by an extremely intense seizures, hypertension, exhaustion of the neurons, and temporary flat-lining of the EEG. However, it is much more confusing for ECT patients than victims of accidental head injury because ECT victims are told that the electrical blow to their brains is well-intentioned, medically indicated for their disease, undoubtedly beneficial, and that their “complaints” are the result of their persisting mental illness.”

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        • Ginger – I must disagree with Dr. Breggin’s all-or-nothing position on ECT.
          I lost my father to ECT (I was a little baby)….in the early days (early 1940s) the machines and/or techniques could malfunction. My father had classic manic depression. Later on, so did my son, who did profit from ECT and never lost a brain cell of his brilliance, humor, and love. However, he did lose his life to Zyprexa (profound hyperglycemia) at the age of 39. So Dr. Healy’s point – that people ge wrecked and killed from drugs in ways that they do not from ECT – a valid point – holds here. I am sorry that ECT is so totally demonized though I understand the motivation, and cannot claim that others have not been harmed by it.
          I do not believe that any doctor, even one who might view him/herself as reform or rogue or whatever, should be a harsh judge of what a person or a family chooses – particularly in extreme moments. Would that we could get beyond anger, finger-pointing and defensiveness and develop compassion. I put my chips on the array of efforts being initiated and studied through the Foundation for Mental Health Care.

          Written with respect.

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          • @ebl,

            I appreciate what you are saying here. I think “Mad in America”, the book, that is– was a portrait of the psychiatrists here in America, who morphed the practice of a medical specialty into an industry of mass destruction. The *Market Based Medicine* mentality was born and raised here. Dr. Healy chronicled IT in “Mania” – a brief history of bipolar disorder. A chapter titled “Branded in America” tells the story that he is referencing when comparing the mentality that permitted ECT experimentation on children as the same that *opened the child market* for stimulants and antipsychotics. And you are right– people, especially children*get wrecked and killed from drugs in ways they do not from ECT*.

            Ted Chabasinski says on Dr. Breggin’s radio show that he considers himself most fortunate to have been released from Rockland State Mental Hospital in 1954– escaping the *drugging* phase just underway as Thorazine hit the market that year. Ted’s concern for the fates of children in America– at the mercy of psychiatry’s drugging and kidnapping tactics (medical child abuse/ Justina Pelletier), has been addressed more thoroughly by David Healy, than any American psychiatrist to date.

            Yes, it is puzzling that not only are these (and other) contributions of David Healy, a non-American psychiatrist negated by Dr. Breggin, but he would go so far as to suggest Dr. Healy has put his stamp of approval on the *crimes* of American psychiatrist, Dr. Lauretta Bender.

            I wonder if perhaps there is just an assumption *here*, that the practice of psychiatry in the UK and elsewhere– with the same degree of pompous self righteousness shown here in America–. It seems almost impossible for many of the rogues and reformers in Dr. Breggin’s camp, to imagine that there could be aspects of this issue that they are missing entirely– and that they hurt others in their careless dismissal of the possibility that they are not fully informed.

            I agree that no one should be a harsh judge of what a person or a family chooses– particularly in extreme moments. Sometimes I think that the madness in America stems from the hypocrisy of our lifestyle– could not be further from a society that respects the dignity of each individual’s life– yet we go on pretending we are all that– and capable of knowing what is best for everyone else.

            Warm regards,

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          • ECT is a war crime by the ruling class against workers, women, 3rd World people, LGBT’s and malcontents of all descriptions. Discussing it in academic terms perpetuates the atrocity.

            It is quite confounding when someone such as Ernest Hemmingway is propped up for the cameras as “someone who struggled with depression.” Hemmingway, for the record, committed suicide after his ability to write was destroyed by ECT. He made a comment on it to the effect that “the treatments was wonderful, doctor, but you lost the patient.”

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    • @oldhead

      If only the war crimes you reference had not become the *white collar* war crimes that are NOW thriving business in America– there would be no need to engage academics in discussion around the roots of these war crimes. I have not given up hope that *our* academics will assume some responsibility for what is primarily an American scourge on youth by child psychiatry. Reading Healy’s books will arm them well for the battle ahead.

      I see banning ECT as an issue far removed from the greatest threat to kids in America– and elsewhere who are at the mercy of the influence of American psychiatrists who have invented more mental illnesses as an excuse to destroy their lives. In this vein, it is beyond foolish to slam the only psychiatrist who has taken up this issue with both clout and courage. AND slamming him with entirely off the wall accusations that in no way reflect his actual position or practice as a psychiatrist in Wales– Take a look at the comments posted on Healy’s website. To even suggest that he is lacking in integrity as a doctor or that his *academic* writing “perpetuates the atrocity” is extremely short sighted, to say the least.

      Ernest Hemminway was not Healy’s patient– nor do we know what other factors figured into his demise, though certainly alcoholism was a factor. Robin Williams did not have ECT, but clearly was receiving some psychiatric treatment, though his history of drug abuse seems to trump that in the media, at least. My point is that raising public awareness of any of the issues pertaining to the potential for harm from psychiatric treatment has to be grounded in the credible opinion of at least one psychiatrist– and any psychiatrist who goes out on a limb to expose the *crimes* of his colleagues should NOT be attacking another who is doing the same thing. There are only a few psychiatrists in this category. Ask yourself what is gained by pinning the worst of the evils of ECT on a doctor in the UK who is not guilty of any of these *evil* crimes?

      Or more to the point, what is lost by such irresponsible behavior?


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      • Let’s be realistic here. Ernest Hemingway suffered from a family history of poor coping skills. while I frown on diagnosing someone from their public image with no actual contact or conversation, poor coping skills are certainly learned behaviors. There is no way to access whether his writer’s block was caused by the ECT or simply a fear he worried into fact. Having said that, there is absolutely no responsible medical argument to treat anything without an understanding of how it works. If ECT was the great white light of cures, it would have been overcome growing public unease on any of the countless prior attempts. As far as treating children, perhaps we should also start sewing twins together and any other number of atrocities visited on children under the curious eye of Dr. Mengele. In my mind, this and lobotomies and other such horrific theories are the equivalent of a child deciding to torture the family pet to death so they can see what happens. If you want to practice medicine, I expect something bordering on ethics and medical research. Not this, we think… we believe. it has been effective before…

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        • @acidpop5,

          Exactly! You are referencing the same unethical and, in my mind, illegal, experimentation that I believe was well documented in “Mad in America” by Robert Whitaker. David Healy documents the history of drugging children in America in his book, “Mania”, which shows that *unethical* practice has continued, and it could be said that we have learned nothing from our own history.


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    • Thanks Fred, nicely said.
      Interesting, on a farm one can place a 2400lb. bull into a 12 volt electric fence enclosure and yet after his choice of instantaneous interaction with a touch to the fence; he NEVER forgets the experience and chooses to NOT experience it again.
      Yet what is described here; is a repetitive pain infliction, what part of that therapeutic endeavor is wellness or healthy, further this is guided and administered by professionals? Amazing what humans do for what is portrayed as “proud career”. Just a thought.

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  4. Electroshock is a closed head injury, and head injuries sometimes induce euphoria. There are some people, especially people with melancholia that swear by shock treatment, but I doubt they swear to being zapped until their memories are erased.

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    • As I like to point out, people who experience a near-death experience, say by being hit by a car, often experience elation at having escaped death, and in some cases even make major changes to their lives to incorporate their new awareness of their mortality. But we don’t push people in front of cars as “therapy.” How any sane person can consider inducing a grand mal seizure through electrocution a form of therapy is baffling to me. It makes just as much sense as improving their mental health by hitting them repeatedly in the head with a hammer until they pass out.

      My other theory is that the reason electroshock is found to “work” is that a significant percentage of people understand that they won’t be allowed to escape until they say they feel better. “Oh, yes, THANK YOU, doctor, I feel SO MUCH BETTER NOW! Can you please unlock the door and I promise I’ll never be depressed again as long as I live! (Or at least I’ll never tell YOU about it!)


      —- Steve

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      • Another reason some people may feel better, Steve, is that the memory of a recent trauma that led to their depression is erased. If you keep shocking, it can be erased permanently. Sure, they won’t know their way around their neighborhood, but hey, they’re over the trauma that led to their incarceration.

        On pretending you feel better in order to get out? I agree. I did it myself as a teenager. I’m just learning now how common that is.


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        • Good point. Lobotomies “worked” in a similar way. The person was never upset or agitated again. Of course, they could hardly find their way to the kitchen and drooled a lot, but the “symptoms” went away. With that reasoning, murder makes a very effective treatment for any mental disorder – the symptoms are permanently erased, along with the life force.

          You might be interested in reading some of John Nash (“A Beautiful Mind”) writing about how he avoided getting imprisoned and ultimately recovered. The movie makes it seem that he’s rescued by a prescription of atypical antipsychotics, but in reality, he says he recognized even in his delusional state that he’d better not tell these people what he was seeing, hearing, or thinking or they’d lock him up. So he decided to just keep a low profile and lie to anyone about his “symptoms” if asked. Then one day, years later, he sort of came out of it and said, “Wow, I’ve been thinking some really weird things.” And he recovered from there. He is clear that he only felt he recovered because he avoided psychiatrists and hospitals like the plague, and he lied like a rug when needed to stay out of their custody.

          —- Steve

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    • Instead of ECT they can take 1200 to 3000 mg of niacin for adult ( I’ve tried up to 1500) and when the flush and itch are going get into a tub of hot water with 5 handfuls of mineral bath like the green Batherapy (not the original) rub body with a foot long luffa immerse yourself totally then use an inflatable neck collar so you won’t accidentally drown yourself or have someone in the tub room with you. I fell asleep in the tub. Woke up feeling like a million bucks and didn’t have to deal with the psychgulog. Also good for extreme states.
      My own experiment , while searching for a safe substitute for ECT so no one would ever have to go through that again.
      I figured this combo out some 33 years ago but no ones paid any attention. I was not at that time aware of any mad movement. When I did find the Rodger’s consumer movement I was disappointed at its close-mindedness . I did read about Hoffer and ortho-molecular supplements and experimented with stuff in a natural food store were I volunteered. No there have been no double blind studies , but it works. Fred Abbe psychpharmECTgulag survivor.

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  5. I would like to share the story of our daughter (diagnosed schizophrenic).
    I myself am a (Dutch) Naturopathic doctor and the psychosis (as a result of traumatic experiences and subsequent fear of living amd life) of our daughter opened a totally new chapter concerning health and healing.

    Because of movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and others, I had some negative images about psychiatry, but no experience what so ever.

    Now things have changed and experience has replaced the vague images and fears left behind by the movies and stories of others. Now we are in the midst of it!
    The story is too large to tell, but it’s a miracle that our daughter survived.

    In short: our daughter was isolated from us, her family, and was made totally psychotic on purpose, to punish us for having witnessed a psychiatrist provoking the suicide of a patient and having complained about it (which saved the girl’s life, thank God, but put us in trouble afterwards).

    At a given point we found out that our daughter hadn’t eaten nor drunk for 3 days. And although we weren’t allowed entry, we managed however to enter the clinic, advised by police to do so and to take her with us and bring her to the closest hospital to have her checked for dehydration. She was in the clinic by “free will” but so psychotic that she didn’t even realise what was going on.

    Police advised us to phone if it would come to a fight. Well, we did phone because they hindered us to get out (all doors are locked, as you may know, and there is no way to get out once you’re inside!), and we waited patiently for them to come and discuss the situation.

    Suddenly I was attacked by 6 male nurses and, although I didn`t resist, beaten up, as if it were a street fight! And so was a (woman) friend that was with us. My wife wasn’t touched because she had police on the phone and neither was our youngest sun (a tall guy) who recorded it all.
    Of course we reported it, but haven’t heard of it ever since. No court, nothing!

    Only after 3 months after the incidence we managed to have a second opinion at a university clinic by a few lesbian psychiatrists (we think) that wanted to help our daughter and managed to get her away from there. All other clinics were backing the clinic up where she was. Very strange!
    And this is Holland?!

    After the second opinion, where our daughter was declared schizophrenic (how nice), she went to another clinic, run, we found out later, by friends of the psychiatrists that almost killed her.
    There she first improved with hardly any medication and than suddenly was put on higher doses by force, after which she became worse and worse. Then even more medication and more and more…
    She had already had some tendencies towards suicide, but these became grotesque now. We attributed it to the medication, but there was no discussion possible.

    Then one day, they knew that we were against it, they tried to persuade her in a sneaky way, to have ECT. Fortunately she phoned us straight away, before giving permission and we stopped the process.

    Now the beautiful side of the story.

    After two years of being totally drugged and psychotic because of the medicines (Haldol + Clozapine + daily Lorazepam + once every 3 days Tranxene. How on earth can one function with such a cocktail and survive this?!), she developed deadly side effects of the medication and they had to stop the Clozapine. We were able to proof addiction to the Benzo’s and (thank God for this psychiatrist – number 17 in 3 years – he took her off the Benzo’s too. Very gradually on our request, after reading Peter Breggin’s book “Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal”).
    And guess what? She improved enormously!

    She changed from being a total handicapped psychotic suicidal person that resembled someone with the syndrome of Down, no, worse!, to the cheerful active, creative person that she always had been!
    Now she is the miracle of the clinic (in the eyes of the patients) and the puzzle to the psychiatrists. Thank you Peter Breggin!

    She still has some Haldol that we want to get rid of as to help her recover even more and that is our next fight.

    I would like to mention that there are different things that we have done to support her recovery and those are:
    First of all, an almost constant and daily psychoanalysis, mostly just by telephone, for she phones us always when she has difficulty to discriminate delusion from reality.
    My wife and I have studied some psychology in the past, but are the living proof that anyone can do psychoanalyse with a psychotic person. (Thanks also to the books written by Betram Karon, Ira Steinmann, Daniel Dorman, Joanne Greenberg and others…)

    Secondly, we went (in secret) to an acupuncturist with her, (telling the clinic that we went for a walk), which gave an immediate improvement and got her out of her catatonic state and made that she hadn’t hallucinations and voices for 5 weeks! Unfortunately we had to stop further treatment after those 5 weeks, for financial reasons and my youngest son and I are studying acupuncture now to be able to help her in this way, if still necessary, in the future.

    Thirdly, we give her high doses vitamin B3 en C, which resulted in another improvement. We also give her extra Manganese against the side effects of the antipsychotics (Haldol in her case).

    She has still some hallucinations but has all under control and tries to understand the meaning of them.
    We trust that when she is totally off medicines, that she will recover even more, for part of her problem now is akathisia caused by the Haldol.
    But, imagine, they almost gave her ECT!

    May our story therefore encourage people to search for other solutions!
    Our daughter was the most psychotic and catatonic patient of the clinic(s) and is now again the active, loving, caring, creative and lovable person that she always had been.

    With kind regards,
    Harm Valentijn

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    • Thanks for posting, Harm. I’m sorry your daughter and you and your family had to experience all this horrendous abuse. It’s a testament to the love you have for your daughter that you never gave up on her. Isolation as treatment? When a person is emotionally distressed, they need love and attention. Isolation is torture.

      It’s great to hear testimony that catatonia was successfully addressed without electroshock. Thank you for preventing it!

      Take care,

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  6. Thank you so much for this – I listened to the interview, what a brilliant guy Ted is and I learned much, things I actually wish I didn’t need to learn – that they are shocking toddlers in Australia… it is unbelievable. I can’t even process it. What could a toddler do to prompt such abuse? Who are these sadistic trained professionals? Where trained. Satanic cult would be my only thought, they are programmed for evil, lack a conscience – honestly can’t think of other answer.

    And the money – I believe Dr. Breggin said $10k per treatment. Ten thousand dollars?

    I am on some FB groups for bipolar (what has happened there is ridiculous, most are NOT bipolar, but being diagnosed as such as pressured to take antipsychotic meds which then causes more mental/physical problems, and then they get prescribed more meds – is insane) and there is talk about ECT on many.

    Many have no clue to how damaging it is, or that the gain if there is one is very short term. I just shared this today – link to this article – on one group where someone was asking about getting ECT.

    Thank you for the resource mentioned above, now I can send folks to your web page about ECT and hopefully it will encourage them to think twice, protect a loved one and search for other answers to their health crisis.

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  7. Dr. Breggin,
    Prior to reading your blog I had not encountered any citations by contemporary psychiatrists that “explained” Dr. Lauretta Bender’s experimental ECT on children “approvingly”. Most references published by colleagues of her time at Bellevue Hospital in New York from 1930 to 1956, are acknowledgements of her own “glowing” reports, with the occasional troubling remarks by staff whose observations more closely resemble Ted’s account of trauma and worsening condition resulting for all of these children, the youngest of whom was 3 years old. Needless to say, I was very concerned at your mention of Dr. David Healy’s having written about Dr. Bender “approvingly” and his being a proponent of “intensive ECT”, which we know was key to Dr. Bender’s approach. I received an immediate response from Dr. Healy regarding this matter, which I am sharing here, feeling very strongly that any endorsement of the torture that I know Ted was subjected to and believe was the case for at least 100 very young children is also a form of torture. I asked Dr. Healy to share what he had written in the book you linked and to clarify his views on these very serious matters. He responded as follows:
    “In Chapter 9 one of the chapters i did write, the only reference to Bender that I had anything to do with says:

    A further controversial issue was ECT for children. As Greenblatt later said, one of the issues had been a plea from child psychiatrists who “were having confused or disorientated youngsters dumped on them following multiple shocks.”[i] ECT for children had been pioneered by Lauretta Bender in New York. In her view, children might experience various symptoms characteristic of the prodromes of schizophrenia, and just as children now will be put on methylphenidate or other stimulant drugs in a manner that may well appear extraordinary in decades to come, children then were treated enthusiastically with ECT by some.

    i] Milton Greenblatt in Dietz [reference to come]

    Translating – it says the use of ECT back then was as Wild West as the use of Stimulants is now.

    I have never advocated intensive ECT in my life and nowhere in the book is there support for this ”

    A very important lesson I have engrained to the core of my being, is to challenge any authority based claim that has the potential to harm vulnerable people or any statement that defames or discredits those who are working to protect and support them. The references you cited for the statements you have made here about Dr. Healy’s views of Dr. Bender’s ECT experimentation on children, like Ted,do not support your perception that he approved of her conduct or endorses “intensive ECT”. I have asked the editors of MIA to kindly review this very important matter.

    Katie Higgins

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  8. Sorry, but I re-read all the above – and now know Dr. Healy’s work as a shock doc radical proponent who refuses to acknowledge medical evidence and testimony of damage from shock survivors and who unethically fails to inform his patients and in readers of his pro-shock books of the risks associated with the procedure – and see no validity to your reply to Dr. Breggin’s statements above.

    The more Dr. Healy and all his supporters like yourself can be called out and put to the litmus test of public scrutiny (since he seems to avoid much medical scrutiny for his negligent approach to treating severely depressed, vulnerable human beings) the better.

    I work as an editor… just giving my two cents to your ‘concerns’ above.

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    • Hi @mollymchugh,

      I agree with your position on calling out the experts for public scrutiny, which is the number one reason I, as a former psychiatric nurse ,and a member of the public (readers of MIA included), contacted Dr. David Healy regarding the statements made here by Dr. Breggin.

      “. In his book, Shock Treatment, Healy uses Bender as a positive example of ECT. He might as well have been describing exactly how Bender treated 6-year-old Ted Chabasinski when he explains approvingly that she “had administered daily treatments to ninety-eight children ages four to eleven for a typical course of about twenty treatment” (p. 137). As Healy states, daily ECT is “intensive ECT,” an approach no longer accepted, except by Healy and a very few other ECT extremists, because it is known to cause severe neurological dilapidation.”

      I write in my comment that I have doing research on Dr. Lauretta Bender (1897-1987) , though I did not elaborate on my motivation for my research, nor my intentions for the disclosure of many facts that permitted and supported her torture of children– that, persist to this day. In other words, the torture of children by child psychiatrists continues, and is a greater threat today owing to the fact that the means for causing severe damage to innocent children has expanded the population of potential chid victims. Why is that so? Part of the answer is that there is zero regulation of the practice of psychiatry within and outside of the profession. To this day, the absence of scientific evidence for viewing children as brain disordered *patients* and the absence of regulatory bodies applying both knowledge and moral conscience conscience to all issues around the administration of psychiatric drugs to children has expanded the population of potential *lab rats* for child psychiatry. The means for destroying the lives of children , yet another product of the disordered thinking of psychiatry, arose from the exact same mind set and possession of ultimate authority that existed in the 1940’s when Dr. Lauretta Bender hatched her evil plan and received government funding and support of her colleagues to torture children, the youngest of whom was three years old. Anyone who is serious about calling out the power brokers in our real time, NOW crisis; calling them out for public scrutiny, has encountered the work of Dr. David Healy.

      As one of many who relies on Healy’s work for furthering the cause of rescuing our children currently imprisoned by psychiatry, and protecting children from becoming child psychiatry’s *lab rats*, I have frequently contacted him to explain or provide information I find in his books and other publications. I have also conduced research (scrutinizing other sources) to verify information Healy shares, which is common practice, is it not? After reading the statements written by Dr. Breggin on this site, it was a matter of crucial importance to ME to find out what Dr. Healy actually wrote and thought about the infamous Dr. Lauretta Bender. I had not encountered any commentary from Healy on her in *my research*, about her.

      Let me quickly add –that since Dr. Bender died 35 years ago, and there was a very heavy shroud of secrecy around what she was really doing and who she was it (the same shroud of secrecy myself and others are trying penetrate) I was highly skeptical that Dr. Healy would have written ‘approvingly’ about her work, but I was determined to investigate the statements that he had done so.

      I posted Dr. Healy’s email response to me and have shared this with MIA editors for two reasons:

      1) FACTUAL INFORMATION is crucial to the* anti-psychiatry* movement.
      **Please note: The anti-psychiatry movement benefits from the *support*, of both this MIA site and the work of Dr. Healy, while both the host of MIA, Bob Whitaker and Dr. David Healy are forthright in claiming NOT to be anti-psychiatry themselves.

      2) As Ted Chabasinki’s friend and comrade, I was deeply saddened by the implications of Dr. Healy voicing *approval* for the heinous acts of Dr. Lauretta Bender– . This seemed a cruel and unnecessary addition to an endorsement of Ted’s upcoming *Ban ECT* protest movement–and loaded, I might add, with a great deal of moral duress for me, IF found to be a, FACT.

      @mollymchugh, You write : ” I work as an editor… just giving my two cents to your ‘concerns’ above.” Therefore, I should expect you to be even more concerned with this matter– fact checking 101.

      As for the litmus test you have suggested is needed for people like me. I would absolutely and unequivocally break all manners of association with ANYONE who voiced approval for what was done to Ted and countless other innocent, precious children.— Even, Dr. David Healy, for whom I have developed the greatest respect and admiration for his work and dedication to all who are harmed by psychiatry–patients and former clinicians, like me.
      ** I have to add, that I am completely satisfied that attributing approval, endorsement of Dr. Lauretta Bender’s ECT experiment on children to Dr. Healy is an egregious error. Furthermore, I find no evidence that Dr. Healy supports *intensive ECT*.

      I absolutely agree with your determination to hold the experts accountable. As a nurse, this has been my most daunting learning curve by far. I would not be writing on this site today if I cowered when called out to take a litmus test. 🙂


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      • Healy doesn’t “promote” or “endorse” what is called “intensive” ECT? So what, that makes him heroic? He is a “good guy” who only uses standard shock on the deeply vulnerable and distressed? If he is such a champion of children, he shouldn’t be brain damaging their parents with ECT. He has all this concern and compassion for people harmed by psychiatric drugs, but lives in a state of denial about the more extensive injury caused by a bogus procedure he himself practices. What kind of bizarre state of denial is he living in?
        Why doesn’t he have the courage to explain his position on this horrific assault on unsuspecting victims?

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        • @truth,
          The statements made by Dr. Breggin in reference to Dr. Healy’s perceptions and practice are, to the best of my knowledge, false. More details on his position to what he does believe and practice is available on the his web site- “let them eat prozac”- commenters on his bog are referred there, where he accountable for his views.

          I refer you back to a blog published as support for Ted Chabasinski’s involvement in the organization of an international protest to *Ban ECT*- Maybe you can tell me what purpose is being served by attacking the character of Dr. Healy– or why very damaging and equally unfounded remarks about Dr. Heay’s perception of the doctor who terrorized Ted were a lead in to this important article about Ted’s incredible accomplishment ?

          Providing links to his own published damning remarks about Healy as a way of substantiating current published damning remarks about Healy is bad enough— As I said in agreement with @mollymchugh- yes! by all means call out all the experts for public scrutiny– ALL- no exceptions :-); it is beyond the pale imo for Dr. Breggin to state that David Healy casts Bender in a positive light and writes “approvingly* of her crimes against children.

          Or perhaps the whole point of this blog was to take the discussion into another arena that serves another agenda? One, that I cannot wrap my mind around— but protest vehemently nonetheless.

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          • I would agree that Dr. Breggin’s remarks about Healy’s views regarding Bender’s practices and intensive ECT are false. It is more than unfortunate that they were included in this article which focuses on the atrocity that ECT is.
            I went to the
            “let them eat Prozac” website and found the lame defenses of ECT: the story of the poor girl who would be alive today if she had just had ECT! ( no proof available, strictly conjecture) He also pulls out the: benzos and anti-psychotics taken by these patients could have been responsible for the memory loss, not the ECT. He also casts doubt on what survivors “say” they have forgotten and says the instruments don’t exist to measure these losses. He questions Linda Andre’s loss of IQ points and disability by pointing out that she was able to write a book! So what? Maybe it took her 10 years to do it. Maybe she would have written ten more minus the damage from ECT. He says nothing about the scientific evidence, of the statements made by neurologists about ECT damage patients have experienced. So, people “saying” they have been damaged by psychiatric drugs is good enough; it can be recorded on the RxISK website and accepted as fact. But an ECT survivor’s testimony about cognitive dysfunction and loss of years of memories is open to doubt and scrutiny?
            ECT IS a psychiatric atrocity as Dr. Breggin and Ted and others like Mary Maddock and Loretta Wilson
            and Linda Andre have pointed out. But Healy continues to defend this electrical equivalent of lobotomy disregarding all the research condemning ECT. He does not comment on this research in his defense of this barbaric human rights violation and abuse of the the sick and vulnerable.

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      • Thanks for that Katie, and I am sure your experience and work as a psychiatric nurse was not only difficult at times, but heart-breaking.

        I appreciate your concern for the child victims of ECT like all here are repulsed by. And it seems you are working in good conscience but to support ANYTHING Dr. Healy does when he does NOT acknowledge the harmful effect of ECT on it’s victims (some may report improvement, sometimes that is due to brain damage, others may have had a ‘placebo’ effect or simply a change in chemical functioning that made them feel ‘better’ i.e. some report becoming manic, others depressed after ECT, etc.) is not only suspicious but of concern.

        ECT should be banned – for any human being. The thousands of dollars (millions…) that those who practice it gain should be directed toward a search for new, effective ‘help/treatments’ for those suffering severe depression.

        It is a horrible illness, I was hospitalized 4 times during my 20s, I know what I am referring to.

        In friendship, Molly

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        • Molly,
          I hope you will take my word on this– I would have pursued the same course to verify any psychiatrist’s endorsement of Dr. Lauretta Bender’s *electroshocking* children. I would challenge any psychiatrist to support that view, as I can no longer face down Dr. Bender herself., which believe me I would do.
          AND, on discovery that claims made re: approval and positive rendering of Dr. Bender, were false, I would likewise seek to have the record corrected. A matter of principle here– for me, at least.

          I appreciate your perspective for the reasoning you employ, and thank you for finding our common ground.
          Warm regards,

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          • Dear Katie, thanks for pursuing this. While Healy has made statements in favour of ECT to me he seems far too busy taking down Big Pharma to be a perticularly big ECT advocate. The science is open to debate, and it is on this post, in the comments section. I am, like you concerned about Dr Breggin’s comments on Healy. They have exagerated the case and misprespresented what he has said.

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  9. From the discussion on ECT on the Facebook group for Bipolar I mention above, one woman shared her story and long-term consequences from getting ECT:

    ” While in a deep depressive mode and quite frankly out of my mind I agreed to this treatment. My experience was horrible. I was a zombie for over a year afterwards. Lost many important long term events in my life. I believe it damaged me permanently. Just my experience. I would not recommend it.”

    Incredibly sad.

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  10. I have spoken to two people who found it useful and would not want it banned. However I know what psychiatry is like and I know what the local psychiatric hosptial is like. So I cannot imagine these people had good care prior to the ECT.

    I think it is important that the voices of those who found it useful are acknowledged and if possible answered.

    I am still for banning it.

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    • They may have improved from empathic care – other treatments for depression… taking a vacation to the Caribbean…

      The issue is it causes brain damage, has no scientific credibility as to it’s therapeutic effect (proof) and those who most promote it do not acknowledge the harm it can cause – do not inform pateints of long-term potential consequences.

      Of course not, most would not agree to the treatment or force it on someone they have true concern for.

      Toddlers being given ECT? What does that tell you?

      Can’t process that. I really cannot.

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      • I am sure it should be banned however I think practicing arguments for those who have had it and found it “Worked,” is something I want to do in the run up to this protest. I suggest others do too, they are likely to be vocal.

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        • John,
          I wonder if satisfied customers of ECT will be attending the protests. Seems unlikely– more likely that someone who knows or has heard of someone from someone who knows– someone who said ECT worked would challenge a group of protesters. I would tend to think that a person who has had ECT or is currently getting ECT would feel vulnerable in a protest arena. Consider this: IF someone asserts they have been helped by ECT, the challenge mentioned here can only mean that he was harmed without knowing it– . So he must be incapable of determining the value of his own experience , which has negated his opinion all together. An unlikely convert, to be sure– but even more unlikely to show up at the protest.

          Most likely to challenge ECT protestors are those several times removed from the procedure itself. For them, the focus must be directed to education.

          The big problem is the public knowledge deficit regarding all of the pertinent info on who is receiving ECT, how many– under what conditions, with what specific results? The big secrets psychiatry keeps under wraps, just happen to be the best evidence for banning ECT. In the radio show linked here, Dr. Breggin mentions the lack of accountability due primarily to lack of reporting and prudent, medical follow up. The proof is in that pudding, so to speak — . were the public to be aware of the ways and means of performing ECT the outrage would be natural and substantial. Think about the kids whose parents do consent, and those who are wards of the state = NO VOICE– – and no data to support the cry to hear their voices.

          “Psychiatry COME CLEAN !” – is a slogan that captures the spirit of the battle– so long as they are permitted to hide the bodies, so to speak, they, remain pretty much untouchable–

          There is so much mass media around psych drugs for the mental disorders we are destined to have– sooner or later. ALL this expert advice and info urges us to “speak openly and freely about mental illness” “take the stigma out of mental illness by “embracing the new rhetoric”?– OK- let’s level the playing field — demand open and free access to ALL the data, records that prove ECT is a treatment and not an assault. – Demand that an issue be made of the failure to report and follow up with ECT victims– Make a case for psychiatry having *no case*– as has been its long horrid tradition– Dr. Bender’s spirit lives on — only because psychiatrists STILL inflict torture with impunity-in secret—. In addition to the compelling stories of ECT victims, is the fact that they have to speak out for themselves, by themselves because psychiatry swept them under the rug– like they do, and have always done. Be prepared to tell the story of psychiatry’s MO– with heavy emphasis on the near impossibility of knowing what they are actually doing, and the price we pay for remaining in the dark.

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          • “So he must be incapable of determining the value of his own experience , which has negated his opinion all together.”

            Wow. Unless I missed the sarcasm, do you have any idea who and what this sounds likes?

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          • I have spoken to people who feel they benefited from ECT. One was vehemently defending it. I expect a few patients will be seen on blogs and in letters pages of the press defending it in the run up to and in the wake of this day of action.

            Someone above suggested a holiday in the Carribean as an alternative. That is not realistic when you are so depresed you have not eaten for so long you are on the point of death, may not want to speak to anyone and refuse all company for days on end.

            Being that depressed is horrible. Being with someone that depressed is very difficult. Yet we need to be able to present realistic alterntives to frightened patients and staff who have to deal with this sort of horrible condition from time to time.

            I have ECT horror stories of friends. One was threatened with it on a ward because she kept trying to escape and another was subject to experimentation by a gung ho psychiatrist conducting his own experiments in an NHS hospital. I have also read the literature. So am familiar with the horrors of ECT. That is not what I am debating here. It is the reality of severe depression and the helplessness of staff and patients who have to deal with it. We need realistic alternatives and if possible personal stories of how very severe and life threatening depression was dealt with to answer our potential, and I think likely, critics.

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  11. Thank you Dr. Beggin for all you do and have done to return some sanity to the farce that is called psychiatry. Where can I buy your books and how much are they in bulk? I would like to order a large quantity and distribute them in key locations.

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    • Ginger Breggin here, Moretoit- Dr. Breggin’s books are available from his professional website: and are marked down greatly from retail. Additionally, if you want to order in bulk please telephone our public line, leave a message with your name, phone number and state you want to order bulk copies of Peter’s books. I’ll call you back and we can make arrangements. Thanks very much for your appreciation and your interest in helping to get the word out about these issues. Very best, G

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  12. David Healy has zero credibility as a doctor since he continues to promote the use of shock ( electrical lobotomy) on people who are suffering and desperate.This state makes them vulnerable enough to agree to ECT, unaware of the REAL risks of this brute force assault on their brains. The reference to the woman who was deeply depressed and “out of her mind” suggests the type of victims shock docs prey upon.
    Healy has all the scientific evidence to prove how devastating shock is, how it damages the brain, castrates memory, and causes severe
    cognitive dysfunction. People can usually detox and taper their psych drugs and become themselves again. There is no return to self after the brain damage caused by ECT. How can anyone claiming to be a doctor who pledges to “first do no harm” assault human beings with electrically induced seizures. I want to know how he can continue to ignore all the scientific evidence of damage and reject the testimonies of shock survivors. It is shameful that people fawn over this man and ignore that he runs an ” ECT service”. People need to protest in front of his hospital/clinic.

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  13. The woman victim sharing on FB wrote more:

    “People don’t understand what this did to me. I can’t read and retain. I have a hard time understanding things can’t drive or take the bus as I get really confused. I am on ssdi and don’t see how I can ever work again. I am not the same person……”

    Is unethical and a form of abuse, not treatment.

    Toddlers? I am at a loss for words. Evil? Satanic? What – how can anyone justify such a thing?

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  14. @Anon-
    I am replying to your comment beneath mine –
    I put quotations marks around the almost universal inference made regarding statements *psych patients* make about their response to their treatment. I listened to and validated patient’s own words in an environment primed with hostility based on consensus of my co- workers that the patient was ” least credible “. By extension., I was viewed ” least credible ” in a professional sense .
    I really think the same degrading feeling would result if one were to suggest treatment they feel helped , was actually harmful.
    Anytime we challenge the veracity of another’s expressing their own perceptions , there is a potential for invalidating them in the process – could say this is an axiom that applies to anyone reporting as a psychiatric patient .
    Please watch the video I linked below – Nancy does an amazing job addressing this issue – a way of responding with compassion when someone reports the help they got from “electroshock”
    I was not being sarcastic at all- the invalidating of anyone’s personal experience is truly dehumanizing –

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  15. I just read an article claiming new research has shown the ECT may offer a complete cure for depression. How very convenient. I wonder how they missed this magical cure during all the other times they decided to trot ECT back out. Of course. this time it can be used on children as young as six. Somehow I don’t see six year olds offering new information on long term debilitating depression. Is there some sort of medical study guide for how best to recreate the works of Josef Mengele or is this just that profitable? What would have even compelled a person to even try something like this in the first place? I also hear we are reconsidering lobotomy. Human beings are these wonderfully individual beings. What is it about that uniqueness that makes a person thing, I can fix them by scrambling part of their frontal lobe/

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  16. Inspired by Nancy Rubenstein’s video – why I will be protesting electroshock on May 16th.

    It’s been 12 years since my last shock. Those who once took an oath to do no harm, maliciously and systematically destroyed my brain and nervous system. I have amnesia. More than 20 years of my life are missing. I also have anterograde amnesia – the loss of the ability to create new memories. I have cognitive impairment, optic nerve damage, tremors, diminished lung capacity, poor working memory and poor organizational skills. I function with a wall of ‘sticky note’ reminders. The spontaneous seizures and the vocal tics are gone. The cracked dental restorations have been replaced. Still, I no longer feel human. For years I lived with the fear that I would be somehow forced to return to the psychiatric hospital .

    I was held for 10 weeks, treated to 25 general anesthetics and 25 bilateral, grand mal seizures. I was told I would require institutionalization, medication for the rest of my life, and weekly maintenance electroshock treatments for the rest of my life. I did not go back for maintenance ECT and I gradually tapered myself off all psychiatric drugs.

    I had no history of ‘mental’ illness. I had insomnia from caregiver burnout when I accepted a benzodiazepine. It helped a bit at first, but then my sleep worsened and I became jittery. I stopped the benzo and felt horrible. I was told I had a mental illness. No one recognized withdrawal syndrome. It was called ‘Anxiety Disorder and Depression’.

    An antidepressant made me agitated and I developed a tremor. The diagnosis was ‘Major Depression with Agitation’. More antidepressants. The agitation became so severe that I lost my sleep entirely. Sleeping pills. ‘Adjustment Disorder’ followed. When I started twitching and shaking uncontrollably, I was given more sleeping pills – to be taken three times a day and at night. I fell asleep during an appointment and was told I had ‘Vegetative Depression’. When I was in constant motion, I was diagnosed with ‘Bipolar Disorder’. Psychiatrists then settled on ‘Psychotic Depression’. Antipsychotics. My body movements became chaotic. My face twitched, and my tongue darted in and out of my mouth.

    Psychiatrists gave me 35 different psychiatric drugs. They said they were ‘unmasking’ mental disorders. They treated the effects of pharmacy and polypharmacy with more polypharmacy. (Why did I accept all those drugs? I would have done anything, agreed to anything, and ingested anything to stop the horrendous agitation – it’s called ‘akathisia’ – but doctors considered it a symptom of my ‘mental’ illness.) I couldn’t stop moving. I was told I had ‘Dementia’.

    I went to a psychiatric facility for help in withdrawing from the drugs. I was kept there forcibly. I was told I had ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’ and ‘Somatization Disorder’. My medical records state that I was ‘an excellent candidate for ECT.’

    Doctors were puzzled by my uncontrollable body movements. They used the best of modern medicine – a sleep study, an EEG, a CT scan, and an MRI. The cause of the agitation, however, was right in their own office, on their own desk – the prescription pad – the worst of modern medicine. I was given 35 drugs in an eight-month period, most in rapid succession in a four-month period. Monographs for the drugs show that all have similar adverse effects of agitation, insomnia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Many have ‘black box’ warnings.

    I have been drug-free for many years and see no psychiatrists. I had a spontaneous recovery from every label I had been given when I withdrew from the pharmaceuticals. I live in terror of those who forgot they once took an oath to do no harm. If I met any one of them on the street, I would not recognize them. They stole my memory.

    My story may be extreme but it’s typical. I will be there on May 16th in memory of three women incarcerated with me who did not survive ECT.

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  17. @ Katie

    Regarding the statement:
    “And you are right- people, especially children, get wrecked and killed from drugs in ways they do not from ECT.”
    Does this suggest the obviously toxic and dangerous drugs are somehow worse than barbaric ECT?
    Wrecked or killed by either still means decimated or dead.
    Is brain damage caused by ECT preferable to brain shrinkage caused by antipsychotics? Is persistent cognitive dysfunction, change in personality, and loss of skill sets for a career as a result of ECT somehow better than developing diabetes from massive weight gain bc of neuroleptics or gaining a bipolar label after exposure to Ritalin or antidepressants?

    The difference is of course in the numbers of “people or children” affected by toxic psychiatric drugs. And the number of children, including toddlers, being drugged is horrifying.

    But ask most people (adults) assaulted by either treatment and they will pick being drugged to being destroyed by ECT. See Amnesia’s story
    as an example.

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    • @truth,

      I am not suggesting viewing the risk for damaging effects of either ECT or psych drugs in terms of which is worse. I agreed with the comment that you quoted above, which speaks to differences in adverse effects and the damage caused by psych drugs. But, you are right “wrecked or killed by either still means decimated or dead. ”

      I do suggest that a shared commitment to protecting children is a means for overcoming or transcending the differences that divide and weaken the potential for preventing ALL of us from becoming victims of psychiatric abuse.

      Is is really numbers and /or degree of harm that will cement a formidable strategy for educating and arousing the concern of the public? There are infinite arguments still to be raised before any one message becomes a tipping point. Perhaps a strong demonstration of our shared humanity to protect the most vulnerable in our society, our greatest treasure, our future — our children could be a rallying point that effectively exposes the one great *evil* that threatens us all?

      Just saying–


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  18. Peter Breggin responds:
    In her commentary above, Katie Higgins defended psychiatrist David Healy against my observation that he has a positive view of intensive or regressive ECT. She reported in her comment that she phoned Dr. Healy and that he told her, “I have never advocated intensive ECT in my life and nowhere in the book is there support for this.” He is referring to his book, Shock Therapy (2007), which he coauthored with Edward Shorter, another very strong advocate of ECT. I have no knowledge about whether Healy has every participated in or recommended intensive ECT; but his book clearly tries to support the practice.
    Before examining their descriptions of intensive ECT, it is important to note that Shorter and Healy make statements like “We will show that the charge of brain damage from ECT is an urban myth” (p. 3) and “In informed circles, serious memory loss has seldom been considered real” (p. 111). Their discussion of intensive ECT is preceded by this statement: “The half-century-old myth about ECT and brain damage has been pushed decisively back into its tomb” (p. 135). Then Shorter and Healy launch into discussing the positive effects of intensive or regressive ECT (pp. 136-140). Their analysis includes the infamous “research” work of child psychiatrist Lauretta Bender:

    “Lauretta Bender at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, the founder of the study of childhood schizophrenia in the United States, reported in 1947 that over the previous five years her Children’s Ward of the Bellevue Psychiatric Division had administered daily [ECT] treatments to some ninety-eight children ages four to eleven for a typical course of about twenty treatments. Although the basic illness had not been relieved, the children had become much more sociable, composed, and able to integrate in group therapy as a result of the daily ECT.” P. 137

    Shorter and Healy are describing exactly the treatment that Bender inflicted on Ted Chabasinski at age six. Instead of condemning it, Healy’s book declares that intensive ECT improved the social abilities of the children.
    In an entirely separate chapter, which was not focused on intensive ECT, Shorter and Healy once again bring up Bender, this time sort of admitting that her treatment was controversial—but in no way condemning it:

    “ECT for children as young as three or four had been pioneered by Lauretta Bender in New York. In her view, children might experience various symptoms characteristic of the prodromes of schizophrenia, and just as children now will be put on methylphenidate or other stimulant drugs in a manner that may well appear extraordinary in decades to come, children then were treated enthusiastically with ECT by some practitioners.” Pp. 197-198

    Notice that Bender is called a “pioneer”—not a child abuser or Mengele—for shocking three year olds. Notice that Healy brings up her discredited idea that children like Ted had “prodromes of schizophrenia” without challenging it. Notice that Healy imagines that Bender’s ECT “may well appear extraordinary in decades to come.” “Extraordinary” is hardly the word to characterize Bender’s atrocities. In fact, this comparison to treating children with stimulants is not intended to show how bad ECT is (Healy does not think it is bad to give stimulants to children); it is to show how Bender was just one more controversial “pioneer.”
    Returning to the chapter on intensive ECT and the main discussion of Bender, in the paragraph that follows the one claiming social improvement for the children, Shorter and Healy go on to say that Bender’s treatment was “timid” compared to other intensive ECT projects:

    “These early attempts at intensive ECT appear timid, however in comparison with what came later. W. Liddell Milligan, a staff psychiatrist at St. James Hospital in Portsmouth, England began using “the intensive method” in 1941, giving patients up to four treatments a day. “In some cases it is necessary to reduce the patient to the infantile level, in which he is completely helpless and doubly incontinent.” They employed intensive ECT for “psychoneuroses,” at least those serious enough to warrant hospitalization, and claimed excellent results without sustained memory loss. Milligan is considered the initiator of regressive ECT, even though he did not use the term.” (p.137)

    In the above quote, having described this horrendously destructive treatment, Shorter and Healy offer no outrage at this brain-damaging assault on the brain, mind and spirit. Instead, they embrace the obviously false statement that destroying a patient’s mental function to the point of infantile helplessness resulted in “excellent results without sustained memory loss.” Throughout his book, Healy’s major contention is that no form of ECT causes serious injury, not even significant lasting memory loss. In this historically oriented book, the authors seem to want to give Milligan credit as the inventor of regressive ECT. It is called regressive because the aim was to “regress” the patient into a state of neurological collapse and helpless infantile behavior.
    The book continues with several more paragraphs about intensive ECT inflicted on various victims from hospitalized women diagnosed with “tension” to prisoners at Sing Sing in New York. They describe one particularly horrendous example of “regressive ECT:”

    “The patients became confused, could not take care of their physical needs, and had to be spoon-fed. As soon as the treatment was stopped the patients “returned toward their chronological ages levels,’ their behavior “essentially normal and symptom free.” In other words, the circumstances of the entire thing were ghastly, yet the treatment seemed to work on patients who otherwise would have been candidates for lobotomy” P. 138

    It defies explanation why Healy and Shorter would believe, and not challenge, the assertion that these patients became “essentially normal and symptom free.” The fact that some doctors might have gone further and lobotomized these patients is no justification for torturing them with ECT. Instead, Healy should have rejected both intensive ECT and the lobotomy as an inhumane, violent assault on helpless human beings.
    These lengthy, positive analyses of the most extreme form of ECT seems incompatible with Healy’s reported defense that “I have never advocated intensive ECT in my life and nowhere in the book is there support for this.”

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    • Thanks much for that Dr. Breggin, puts to rest any of the ‘pro-Healy’ support above which did not seem legit in the first place.

      Again, I’ve shared this article on a FB group discussion about ECT – in this case the second group about ME ( called “How do you Sleep at Night Wesseley & Fink” – which is trying to help the International fight for the release of Danish psychiatric prisoner Karina Hansen and for ME/CFS/CFIDS to not be classified as psychosomatic so that physician sociopaths like Healy et. all. can then inflict abuse such as forced drugging, electroshock, etc.).

      There are online trolls trying to promote ECT in the ME community, testing the waters to see if there are sufferers who will consent to treatment it seems, or trying to test public opinion in the wake of the psychiatric kidnappings of Hansen and American Justina Pelletier (another neurologically-based illness sufferer who thankfully is home recovering after being made much worse while incarcerated).

      It is like they know their power and charade of lies is melting and they are desperately trying to regain a grasp hold to be able to continue their tortuous practices and deceptive medical treatments.

      Thank god few respond favorably, and most are now much more informed about electroshock who seemed to really know nothing before (these are people dealing with chronic medical condtions, most not having psychiatric-diganosed illnesses).

      Have learned a ton, attending one of the protests and will speak out as I am able. Molly

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  19. What always amazes me is that doctors of all other medical specialties do everything that they can to keep people from having seizures because they believe that seizures are harmful to the brain. But along comes psychiatry, standing all by itself, and they tout seizures as a great “treatment”! What is wrong with this picture?

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  20. Even as a layman, I find it ludicrous to anticipate anything good to result from blasting people’s brains with electricity.
    To conclude that electrocuting children made them “become much more sociable, composed, and able to integrate in group therapy” is utterly preposterous, just on the face of it alone.

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  21. Dear Dr. Breggin,

    With all due respects, I find your response calls for a more detailed explanation of my concerns regarding the way you have interpreted the historical recounting of the work of Dr. Lauretta Bender to accuse Dr. Healy of support for her work. From my position, a nurse who has worked with Harvard child psychiatrists who have earned the reputation of a present day *Mengele* — this accusation was a call for action. I have supplied the description of the action I took to determined the veracity of your accusations against Dr. Healy. Elsewhere on this comment threat and posted by me on this site, are aspects of my background and my work to both expose present day Dr. Mengele’s and more importantly, rescue children from the present day crimes committed against them by child psychiatry. Before, I continue my response to your criticisms of Dr. Healy, I want to be clear regarding my issue. Present day support of the methods and the madness of Dr. Lauretta Bender’s page in the history of American Child Psychiatry is a most grievous matter to me.

    I did not phone Dr. Healy. I emailed him. His response in writing was shared here. The book you cite was joint authored by Healy. He contributed Chapter’s 9 & 11 and the epilogue. I cannot argue against interpretations of historical references, but as a reader, it is up to me to condone or condemn what is written in this manner. As a reader, a nurse reading for the purpose of establishing a strong foundation for the work I am doing, I want the facts. Robert Whitaker, who has been criticized on his own site for failing to interject the rhetoric of condemnation into the discussion has gained vital support internationally from academics and clinicians, for maintaining his non biased position. This, in my opinion, translates into respect for the audience’s capacity to reach their own conclusions. The facts here, from my perspective are :1) Your interpretations are taken out of the context of Chapter 9, which is mainly about *informed consent* and 2) Your position within the psychiatric survivor movement has tremendous influence over those who may have never read any of Dr.Healy’s own books or have any knowledge of the extent to which he has opened a path for those of us most concerned with the present and the future — and especially where this ALL effects our children.

    Why does this matter to me ? When I encounter people, mostly parents, who are seeking my help with their children who are current victims of American Child Psychiatry, many of whom have read your books, including “Reclaiming Our Children”, which I most often recommend, have cause via their appreciation of your work, to accept your professional opinion. Your latest pronouncement calls into question for them, my reliance on Dr. Healy as a resource for my work on their behalf. And by extension to question my own judgment as a nurse advocating for their precious child. I care deeply about establishing trust as the basis for these relationships. By the same token, I am ruthless in the process of determining who is trustworthy. Regarding the pressing current issue at hand, I am not suggesting anyone simply take my word, or my interpretations of a very small sample of large body of published writing. I am merely saying that an accusation of the calibre you have made here about Dr. Healy, requires a great deal more investigation and personal reflection as well.

    While making a very small contribution to Ned Shorter’s book , David Healy was in process of writing the book that I happened to read first, “Mania”. Those most threatened by his already strong, unyielding challenge against the corruption of psychiatry by pharma were poised to attack “A Short history of bipolar Disorder” (subtitlese of Mania) as his revenge for the toll his battle had taken on his professional standing and career. I feel certain that you, Dr. Breggin, are familiar with being in that position. Healy acknowledges the predicted reaction from many of both of your colleagues, as he writes in the preface:

    “On the topic of passion, who would not be passionate about a topic that involves two-year-olds dropping dead on drugs? Although passion may cloud judgment, by some alchemy it is also often what is needed for us to reach beyond ourselves. Perhaps we should not hope that this history can be objective. Perhaps it won’t suit everyone. The value lies in whether it is picked up and—as with scientific ideas, and with boats— set floating.”

    Just so happens, my introduction to David Healy’s work and mission , occurred when I most needed to understand who and what I was dealing with at Boston Childrens Hospital. I read “Mania” after 5 long years on BCH’s psych unit Bader 5. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Healy’s work and his willingness to confer with me over email as I engaged in the most agonizing advocacy in my career, for Justina Pelletier. Ironically, the family contacted him via email to be put in contact with the *former BCH nurse* who had posted on his site, ME. It was through David Healy’s action that I met the Pelletiers, and had ongoing support for the hideous twists that case would take. I am also grateful for the blog posts he ran on the newest threat to children: psychiatry kidnapping them and with holding medical treatment.

    There is much at stake for all of us negotiating relationships and finding allies in the quest to save our children from psychiatry– and that naturally entails exposing psychiatrists who meet the definition of *criminal*– at times. It saddens and to some extent angers me to see actions within our ranks that sabotage so much of the progress that is being made. Fundamentalist views may be the most threatening of all– especially when they are emotionally driven attacks on each other.

    I would like anyone who has read this exchange to consider the final paragraph David Healy wrote in, “Mania”– page 252:

    “Because our civilization appears threatened by fundamentalisms whose appeal lies in the message that we have lost sight of some of the most important things about being human, and because creation of bipolar disorder in children is so alarming, we need to chart the currents that delivered us to this shore.”

    “A generation of children is now being led away, and we seem as powerless to stop this happening as Emil Kraepelin was to stop his children dying of epidemic infections.” “Mania” page 244

    It is possible for me to engage those seeking my help with the facts regarding Dr. Healy’s character and professionalism– but in doing so, I now have to attempt to explain why someone of Dr. Breggin’s stature would choose to attack him in this manner– . I hope you will consider that it is because there is no rational explanation — . David Healy has never endorsed intensive ECT, nor does he support ANY type of *psychiatric* experimentation on children– much less the crimes of Dr. Lauretta Bender.


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  22. Hi everyone. Due to an increasing number of comments that attacked persons rather than practices, comments for this post are now closed. There can be a fine line sometimes between discussing practices and discussing their practitioners or proponents, but that’s the line we’re trying to maintain here (perhaps a bit clumsily in this instance, and I apologize for that). We’re interested in providing a platform for the hazards of all psychiatric practices to be thoroughly discussed, not for people in the movement to be raked over the coals, because in the end, despite our differences on certain issues, we’re all part of the same fight. And so, with respect for the passion, insight and devotion to the cause that everyone brings, we ask for your understanding as we close this comment thread.

    In solidarity,

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