May 16, 2015: 25 Shock Treatment Protests in 9 Countries! What Now?


On May 16, 2015, our movement for human rights in psychiatry carried out a historic event. In fourteen cities in the United States and eleven cities in eight other countries, shock survivors and their allies publicly opposed the brutal and damaging practice of electric shock “treatment.” In many places, the demonstrations were well covered by the media. Others were small but determined. We had never done such a large scale manifestation before, and it was inspiring.

For me, I was moved very deeply. I could not have dreamed, when I was six years old and being tortured by shock at Bellevue Hospital, that such a thing could ever happen.

And I also was excited that so many new people stepped forward, people I had never heard of before, and threw themselves into the hard work of organizing these protests. It is good to know that our movement can still inspire and recruit these people. To avoid leaving out a lot of other names, maybe I should just say that the three women leaders in Boston, Melbourne, Australia (sometimes called the shock capital of the world), and Calgary, Alberta, especially inspired me.

The idea for this action began with a demonstration planned for May 16 in Portland, Oregon by Debra Schwartzkopff, a shock survivor who had organized several earlier demos. I had spoken in late January at a memorial service for Leonard Frank, a shock survivor and one of our most respected and beloved movement leaders, really one of our movement’s founders, who died on January 15. I mentioned the Portland protest, and someone suggested that there be a shock protest in the San Francisco area too, to create a kind of synergy. I mentioned this to Debra, and suddenly she was on the phone and internet, recruiting people to have their own protests in their own cities. In a few days, she had rounded up eight or ten cities, and we were off!

Soon, we had dozens, and coordinating things was not so easy. We wound up with a small informal “steering committee” that included five of us, with Jim Gottstein of PsychRights in Alaska and Mary Maddock from Ireland working with Debra and me. I want to give special thanks to Emmeline Mead, whose ability to troubleshoot and figure out where to put her energy was just awesome.

Debra Schwartzkopff carried out a one-­woman civil disobedience.

Some cities worth pointing out: Portland’s demo was covered THREE TIMES by the local progressive radio station, KBOO. Debra carried out a one-­woman civil disobedience, being arrested for trying to enter the local Kaiser shock hospital with her sign. (Her court appearance at the Clackamas County Courthouse is scheduled for June 15, and I encourage anyone who can to go to this hearing and sit peacefully in the courtroom, to show that there is community support for her.)

London’s protest, in front of the Houses of Parliament, lasted four hours and was reported to have been very militant.
London’s protest, in front of the Houses of Parliament, lasted four hours and was reported to have been very militant.

London’s protest, in front of the Houses of Parliament, lasted four hours and was reported to have been very militant. In Berkeley, we had coverage by the local progressive radio station KPFA. In Santiago, Chile, there was a very lively demo. Eugene, Oregon’s protest got local TV coverage. In Toronto, our people vigorously confronted the American (sic) Psychiatric Association at its annual meeting there. Melbourne was covered by one of the largest newspapers in Australia. Photos, video and reports about the protests were posted on our Stop Shock Twitter page as they came in.

So what should happen now? I think it is very important for us to follow up on the good energy that was unleashed by May 16. For too long, there has been a lot of talk but not a whole lot of action. Now is the time to start moving forward.

I would like to see the formation of a national organization that emphasizes action, and more protests like this, over a variety of issues. For a long time, I have been wanting to see, and I have felt was needed, an organization with a very critical analysis of psychiatry, that carries out the kind of activities that the Network Against Psychiatric Assault used to do. NAPA actually stopped shock treatment in San Francisco for a while, through a series of powerful protests that made it a public relations disaster for the hospitals that were doing shock. They also played an important role in Berkeley in 1982, where we won overwhelmingly a measure we put on the ballot to ban shock there.

In Berkeley, we had coverage by the local progressive radio station KPFA.

There already is a website and Facebook page for NAPA, and it would be a good idea to build on that.

I am hoping that most of the great people who organized in their towns on May 16 will join in this effort to revive NAPA. But several very interrelated things are very important. We have to agree on a statement of purpose that minces no words about the destructiveness of psychiatry. I am drafting such a statement and (uncharacteristically for me) think it will be not too difficult to get a broad general agreement.

I think that there are several issues that would be important to take up. One is of course shock treatment, which is a public relations weak point for psychiatry. We are small and not yet particularly strong. They are powerful and well-­funded (to say the least). When a smaller force takes on a powerful enemy, we have to attack them at their weakest points, else we are bound to lose. I think shock can be that entry point to convincing the public about the true nature of psychiatry.

Santiago, Chile: a very lively demo.

Another similar issue we should be talking about is the psychiatric abuse of children. The public often is not that interested in what happens to adults in the system, but when they hear of kids being abused, they can be much more sympathetic. Besides the terrible fact that huge numbers of foster children are being drugged, there is even a move now to take away the ability of parents to prevent their kids from being drugged. This is an issue that many mothers and fathers could relate to.

And to me, the use of shock treatment on children may be one of the best issues of all for us to take up. While I of course think all of it should be banned, I think getting it stopped on children can be accomplished in a reasonable time. Put yourself in the place of the leaders of the psychiatric profession who will have to defend this. It will be a public relations nightmare for them. I actually think, although we will be outspent a hundredfold, we could put this on the ballot in a carefully chosen state, and win. One of the big advantages of doing it this way is that everyone who will vote will be paying attention to the issue. It is also so unusual for the public to vote on anything connected with psychiatry that the major media will cover it, just as they did the Berkeley shock ban vote in 1982.

Toronto: our people vigorously confronted the American Psychiatric Association at its annual meeting there.
What might be a lot harder, though, but urgently necessary, is to create a group that is supportive and positive for its members. In 1974, when our movement was fairly new, and we were winning victories, I remember our Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression was incredibly full of comradeship and caring about one another. I had gone around the country that summer, trying to bring people together, letting them know what everyone else was doing, and recruiting them to come to the conference. It was a very exciting time, and we were optimistic that our cause would prevail.

Now our backs are against the wall, with attacks on our rights like the Murphy Bill and outpatient commitment, and the portrayal of us as crazed killers who should all be locked up and drugged. It’s discouraging, and sometimes in frustration we turn against one another. But I think what happened on May 16 should show us that when we cooperate, we can accomplish something. Let’s fight for our freedom, not with one another!

Anyway, congratulations to us! Let’s do something like this again soon!


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  1. Ted,

    Thanks to you, and all those who organized and participated in this event. I love Toronto’s giant shock doc and blue shock victim, those works of art belong in an anti-psychiatry museum.

    I agree focusing on psychiatry’s harm of children is key.

    What happened to you in your youth is just deplorable. I find it shocking that shock torture tactics are still legal.

    I also believe John Read’s research, which points out the most common trait of all “schizophrenics” is adverse childhood experiences or child abuse. Especially given the fact the “gold standard treatment” for “schizophrenia,” the neuroleptics, are also known to cause both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” Since this implies it’s likely that the most common etiology of “schizophrenia” is doctors covering up child abuse by turning abuse victims into “schizophrenics” with the antipsychotics.

    Not to mention the massive drugging of foster children. The facts do show the psychiatric industry’s bread and butter is profiting off of stigmatizing and torturing abused and / or helpless children. If most within society understood this, I would think we could put an end to today’s psychiatric reign of terror.

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  2. Keep in mind that the Berkeley ban was voided within a year of passage, essentially because it was regarded as interfering with a patient’s right to choose appropriate treatments. Voluntary ECT is unlikely to be criminalized, as long as there is evidence that it works (and there is), and as long as patients are being informed about its risks (memory loss, cognitive damage, &c). If someone is not reasonably informed of these risks, their physician deserves to be sued for malpractice. Banning involuntary administration of ECT, which is what most of the protesters above are lobbying against, is a separate question and is much more likely to succeed. Involuntary hospitalization and treatment in general should be the initial battleground in these debates. Treatment in children is also an enormous question in itself, and if indeed children are receiving ECT against their parents’ advice, this is an injustice and should be stopped. As above, however, there are clinical situations where ECT (with consent from parent and child) is still known to be the best available treatment.

    Dr Chabinski, I am deeply saddened by what happened to you in your childhood. You were absolutely mistreated by physicians who were supposed to be helping you, and no one can reasonably dispute that. I will just say that ECT today bears no resemblance to what you received and is nothing akin to torture; it is administered under general anesthesia and paralysis, so that the person experiences and remembers nothing, and the seizure is restricted only to the brain (without any bodily manifestations). It is used in the treatment of severe depression, catatonia, agitation or psychosis. Deviating from these is nothing short of malpractice, and using ECT as punishment would be a repulsive violation of professional standards and indeed of basic human rights. However, until it can be shown that ECT is ineffective in treating these illnesses, or that its side effects clearly outweigh its benefits, or a superior treatment is available (TMS and tDCS are encouraging but not home runs), it will remain within the psychiatrist’s therapeutic armamentarium.

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    • Psychiatry as you know it may not always be around, so shock may not always remain within the “therapeutic armamentarium”‘.

      For every person that you can round up who will swear that shock saved their lives I can come up with someone who will swear that their lives were destroyed by it. I know of someone who is shocked against his will twice a week and this has been going on for months now. Of course, his shock is “evidence based treatment” so I guess that makes all of this okay. I can also induce the same wonderful benefits caused by shock with a handy blow or two to the person’s head with a baseball bat.

      Shock treatments killed my grandmother. They didn’t kill her physically but it would have been kinder to her if they’d just put a gun to her head and shot her as to do to her what they did in the name of “evidence based treatment”. Before the psychs gave her their “evidence based treatment” she was a vibrant woman with a wonderful green thumb who grew a jungle in the desert of the Southwest. She painted and did wood carvings and wrote. She was also what white people call Native American and knew about the curative powers of plants. She was a wise woman and cared for and treated the people of her small community where she was revered and loved. She could go out in her garden, hold up her hands, and butterflies and hummingbirds would light on the palms of those hands.

      After they shocked her some 40 times she came back to us and didn’t know me or any of the rest of her family. She spent the rest of her days in the house, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and looking at the kitchen floor. She was not my beloved grandmother anymore. She never grew another flower, made any more medicine from the native plants in her garden, carved another statue, or painted another piece of art, and all I can say is thank psychiatry so very much for destroying my precious grandmother with “evidence based treatment”!!!!!!!!

      Thanks but not thanks, I don’t need or want psychiatry’s “evidence based treatment”.

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      • I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, that is indeed a tragedy. I wonder if there is more to the story, because what you’ve said gives no indication that she had any sort of illness that would have been treated with ECT. Depression in later life can be severe to the point of disability, and indeed untreated depression often leaves people blank, absent, inattentive, &c.

        Incidentally, you cannot administer ECT with a baseball bat, because the purpose of the electrical stimulus (the “shock”) is to produce a seizure. Though this indeed has significant risks and side effects, it is much safer than producing seizures with injection of medications or boluses of insulin, as used to be done in the 40s and 50s. I am very surprised to hear that you have an acquaintance receiving involuntary ECT twice a week, because in order for this to be true he would have to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, and THAT would require proving in a civil hearing that he is at serious danger of harming himself or someone else due to a treatable mental illness. Involuntary ECT is actually very uncommon these days.

        Finally, psychiatry is in no danger of going extinct, until some other profession proves itself capable of caring for the seriously mentally ill.

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        • No, my grandmother wasn’t depressed as she sat looking at the floor and smoking one cigarette after another; her behavior was the direct result of the shock treatments that she received for supposedly being “schizophrenic”. She was shocked into an emotionless zombie. Please don’t sit there at your computer and try to tell me what was going on with my grandmother.

          Being hit with a baseball bat and getting shock treatments end up with just about the same results. Brain trauma is brain trauma no matter what way you induce it in people. Seizures are dangerous to the human brain and all other medical specialties work very hard to keep people from having seizures and yet psychiatry claims that it’s a great and wonderful “evidence based treatment”!

          The person who receives the shock twice a week is incarcerated in a psych “hospital”. It’s ironic to me that they can claim that he’s a harm to himself and yet they turn right around and harm and damage his brain and call it “evidence based treatment”! Hmmmmmm……………….by the way, I guess they called injecting people with insulin to produce seizures (which only damaged people) “evidence based treatment” too.

          Many alternative things are coming onto the scene which are capable of caring for the “seriously mentally ill”, as you like to refer to us. And one last thing, and this is my feeling and I claim it and it may get this response removed but I’m going to state it anyway. The tone of your posts just reek of being the “expert” who is lecturing us poor uneducated and uninformed people who have no idea what we’re talking about. I don’t need lecturing, especially about my own life, nor the work that I’ve chosen to do in my old age (peer worker in a state hospital), nor about my very own grandmother who psychiatry destroyed and the psychiatrists patted themselves on their backs about what a good job they’d done for her with their “evidence based treatment” as she shuffled out the door of the state hospital where they’d shocked her senseless!

          It is this very attitude that smacks of being the “expert” on all of this and having to “lecture” the unwashed masses about how ignorant they are that just may lead to the death of psychiatry as you know it. Unless you’ve spent months behind the locked doors of a psychiatric “hospital” as I’ve done, please don’t lecture me about what I know about the system and its “treatments” and the like. I’m a successful older man who was once a high school teacher and a hospital and nursing home chaplain who now wears the hat of a peer worker. Please don’t patronize me with paternalism.

          I choose to believe that your tendency to want to lecture us probably stems from the fact that you’re young and haven’t yet had the chance to gain significant experience in dealing with people to know any better. But please don’t lecture me about what I already know. I applaud your coming to MIA to engage with those of us who have been harmed at the hands of traditional psychiatry, but please, please do not lecture us as if we do not know what we are speaking about. If we are to accomplish anything, and if you really want to save psychiatry, then you and I must sit down here on common ground and strive to form some kind of mutual relationship. It must be a relationship not only where I learn from you (and I’m sure that you have much to teach) but it must be a relationship where you learn from me also. We are more than the labels that psychiatry has stuck on us. We are more than the “illnesses” we’ve had to endure at the hands of your profession. We know about what we speak of and we have a great deal to teach anyone who is willing to sit with us on an equal footing. Notice that I say an equal footing. We are all our own experts here in our own ways. Are you willing to come and sit with us in this struggle to make life better for all people?

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        • Regarding “until some other profession proves itself capable of caring for the seriously mentally ill.”
          That is a trick statement.
          There are no seriously mentally ill , until a person has received ” help” from psychiatry.

          Psychiatry turns a mildly sick person into a seriously mentally ill person with drugs and a pre-crime prison (you call a hospital).

          Removing a persons mind/brain is not “care”.

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    • Berkeley’s ban on shock was not overturned to preserve the right of people to get it. The courts ruled that Berkeley did not have the authority to ban it.

      I could respond to your defense of shock in detail, but I have to say that the statements you make about how it has been improved and how it is safe and effective are just the same propaganda that the psychiatric profession has been pushing for many decades.

      Lobotomies were also touted as wonder cures, yet no one (except the few lobotomists that are left) would defend them now.

      One of the main reasons this atrocity continues is that its victims are discredited, while the shock doctors, and psychiatrists in general, are seen as godlike figures whose nonsensical pronouncements are treated as the word of God.

      Millions of people have had shock in this country, and you will find very few of them who would defend it. I think the people who have suffered like this are the ones who should be listened to, not their tormentors. Like all other abused people, we will be ignored until we learn to fight back effectively.

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      • I have indeed seen many people who have received ECT and found it to be a life-saving treatment. Some have returned to work, including intellectually demanding work, without any apparent loss in function. I would welcome your detailed response if it includes any sort of evidence, but at this point, the scientific data (as I understand it) overwhelmingly demonstrates that ECT is an effective short-term treatment for severe depression.

        Finally, psychiatrists are not seen as Gods and have not been since the days of Freud. In the 21st century, we are far more accustomed to criticism and personal attack from people essentially ignorant of the nature of our work. No one enters psychiatry in order to practice sadism and tyranny on vulnerable patients. We enter the field because we appreciate the profound suffering of the mentally ill and want to help people who have been misunderstood, exploited and abandoned by society at large.

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          • Speaking authoritatively about psychiatry but refusing to have an open dialogue with a psychiatrist seriously undermines your credibility. I hope you can see this for yourself. There are surely many things that you and I could agree on.

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          • But are you really having an open dialog? “No one enters psychiatry in order to practice sadism and tyranny on vulnerable patients.” How do you know this is true? Aren’t their psychopathic and sociopathic people in virtually every field? And if they aren’t entering to practice sadism and tyranny, why are patients experiencing their “treatments” in that way, and why are they as a profession so unwilling to listen to their own patients?

            “…we are far more accustomed to criticism and personal attack from people essentially ignorant of the nature of our work.” Do any of the criticisms come from people who are quite well aware of the nature of your work? Why would the fact that someone is critical suggest they are ignorant? Does that statement really suggest openness to feedback and differing perspectives?

            Ted is himself a survivor of a long string of shock treatments before the euphemism “ECT” had been invented. I’d hardly suggest that he is ignorant of the nature of psychiatry, as he’s experienced it on a first-hand basis. He sees himself as a victim of psychiatry because he was actually victimized by psychiatry. I doubt that you telling him anecdotes about people who got better after ECT is going to convince him that what happened to him was beneficial. If you want others to have a dialog, you have to be really open to hearing their point of view, and not relegating it to either “things used to be bad but we don’t do that any more” or “you were the victim of an unethical or incompetent practitioner but your experience doesn’t reflect the general reality.” People here have experienced horrors at the hands of your profession. They are by no means ignorant, but they have a different perspective than you based on very real personal experiences. If you can’t hear that, you have no business critiquing anyone for being unwilling to engage in dialog.

            —- Steve

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          • MT,

            Re your comment:

            “Speaking authoritatively about psychiatry but refusing to have an open dialogue with a psychiatrist seriously undermines your credibility.”


            This is Ted’s biography (as posted on this site):

            When I was six years old, New York City’s child “welfare” system took me from my foster parents and sent me to one of Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric wards. There, as part of an experimental group of (eventually) several hundred children, almost all of them wards of the state, I was given a course of twenty shock treatments by one of the leading child psychiatrists of her day. (The profession hasn’t changed much since then, except it has even more power.) I was then shipped to a state hospital, where I spent the rest of my childhood.

            Released at age seventeen, I went on to work my way through college, graduating with honors. Later, I served two stints in psychology graduate programs, but fortunately, it didn’t take. Eventually, I became a patients’ rights attorney, and am still an active member of the California State Bar.

            I found out about what we then called the mental patients’ liberation movement in 1971, and have been active ever since in several cities in the U.S. and Canada. I am most proud of the campaign I led in my new home town, Berkeley, that persuaded our voters to ban shock treatment here.

            I am 75, not young any more, but my life isn’t over yet, and I have rededicated myself to doing all I can so that what was done to me won’t happen to others.


            My comment to you:

            If you’re having problems finding a little empathy, at least have a little respect, doc.

            And please, leave the lectures on what the law says/doesn’t say about ECT to Ted Chabasinski, JD (along with Tina Minkowitz, JD and Jim Gottsein, JD). They are all psychiatric survivors, and attorneys. You are not.


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    • Dear MT. check out my You-Tube testimonial:

      I, too, assumed shock was terrific, lifesaving, all the things they told me. Until it nearly ruined my life. The damages were covered up. They thought they got away with it all these years, but now, I am coming out with my story. I hope to ruin their reputations just like they ruined mine.

      Julie Greene

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    • MT, according to a literature review in 2004 by Read and Bental there is little evidence that ECT works better than placebo but there is evidence that it causes brain damage. They conclude it the short term gain that some obtain does not warrent it’s use.

      Individual stories are not enough to justify either promoting or calling for a medical treatment to be banned. For that we need well conducted studies. This is the best I can find.

      Here is a link to the study:

      If you have any other evidence that is contrary to that I’d like to know.

      I wrote to my local psychiatric hospital in the run up to the protest asking them whether they knew about the controversies surrounding this treatment. They replied fully saying they did and saying that sham ECT was effective for some people but that real ECT was much more effective. They acknowledged people reported damaged memory and cognition. So I wrote back asking them which studies they were quoting and how they interpreted them as the Read and Bentall literature review came to another conclusion.

      Your post has reminded me to get back to them as without providing such evidence I feel duty bound to take further action.

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      • Hi John,

        Dr Read’s review indeed shows minimal benefit to ECT. I’ll point out that Dr Read has long been an opponent to biomedical models of mental illness and was seeking evidence to discredit ECT from the start. This might be why his review has quite different findings from several others:

        Dr Read’s study is worth reading and raises reasonable concerns. You should absolutely present it to your hospital. If they know what they are doing, they ought to have literature to address your concerns. If not, they shouldn’t be administering it in the first place.

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        • Read and Bental’s study is dated 2010, the ones you site are before that.

          He maybe against ECT but I ask you to tease out his study and the ones you quote and show us why they are different and why interpret them as favourable to ECT while Read and Bental reach different conclusions.

          Without doing that you are not engaging into meaningful debate.

          If you want I can quote the relevant part of Bental and Read’s study to start the discussion off, which is what I have done with my local hospital.

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    • “It is used in the treatment of severe depression, catatonia, agitation or psychosis”

      “severe depression” is not a disease
      “catatonia” is not a disease
      “agitation” is not a disease
      “psychosis” is not a disease

      If the person has been objectively tested for an actual brain disease, then treat that actual disease safely, not by passing 400 volts of electricity through the brain for as long as it takes to cause a seizure in a sedated patient.

      Most of us are calling for an out and out ban GLOBALLY, not for paternalistic reasons, but because choice is NEVER informed.

      Show me the PATIENT you feel must have electroshock to save their life and I’ll show you how to care for the PERSON properly.

      Take care/Tabhair aire
      – D

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    • “I will just say that ECT today bears no resemblance to what you received and is nothing akin to torture” — MT

      In response, I am copying an email message I sent to the Connecticut Depts. of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and of Public Health. It contains links to my torturous experience of involuntary ECT from 2005-2006, as well as an account of another patient from the Institute of Living in Hartford in 2013, who reports being threatened with forced ECT, despite her advance directive declaring she would refuse ECT under any circumstances.

      To: [email protected]; [email protected]
      Subject: Involuntary “electroconvulsive therapy” and protests
      Date: Tue, 5 May 2015 18:47:13 -0400

      [This message is not confidential and may be forwarded to anyone of concern.]

      To DMHAS Commissioner Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon


      DPH Commissioner Jewel Mullen:

      I am writing just to share some information I have on the issue of “electroconvulsive therapy,” specifically forced ECT, which is legal in Connecticut.

      In 2013, Rep. Sandy Nafis and Sen. Paul Doyle raised a bill on my behalf that would have prohibited forced ECT, which abolitionists prefer to call electroshock.

      A news article I wrote summarizing the public hearing:

      The bill was rewritten afterward by the Public Health Committee and, after conferring with others who testified, I decided to not support the revised bill. Despite my hopes that Sen. Doyle would raise a similar bill this legislative year, it appears that will not happen.

      You may be wondering why such strong opposition to forced ECT/electroshock exists. It isn’t just because of an old fictional movie based on an older book.

      To start, here is an account of my own traumatic experience from 2005-2006 at the Institute of Living:

      Here are two subsequent articles I wrote summarizing several references:

      Deaths shortly after ECT do occur and, despite psychiatrists’ claims that the suicides are merely attributable to depression or other mental illness, the accounts of trauma from many ECT patients tell otherwise.

      A news article about a death following ECT, exact cause unknown:

      Other recent news…

      Electroshock therapy on under-14s banned in WA after law passes Parliament [Australia]
      New mental health legislation in Western Australia banning the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on those under 14 has passed through State Parliament.

      Recently also in Ireland, the laws concerning the use of forced “electroconvulsive therapy” have undergone legislative scrutiny:

      Women Inmates in Mental Hospitals Abused [India]
      “In one government hospital, a psychiatric nurse said ECT is commonly used not only on violent and suicidal patients but also on new admissions who tend to be unmanageable. It is even used as a threat to coerce patients to take their medicines or to scare them if they do not listen to the staff, the report says.”

      Think abuse of modern ECT doesn’t happen in the US? I also came across this rather interesting letter by another former patient of the Institute of Living, Pamela Spiro Wagner.

      “I believe that I was profoundly harmed by the treatment I received in 2013 on Donnelly 2 South at the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital, and that what the staff did to me was not only unethical and cruel but that it crossed the line into illegality from the very first.”

      “No wonder Dr. Sanjay Banerjee attempted to force ECT on me, without any prior discussion of it with me whatsoever.
      And where did the ECT discussion come from? My PAD states in no uncertain terms that I will refuse ECT under any and every circumstance. My brother would be my conservator if Banerjee had sought to go down that road, and he would never have made any decision to counter my wishes on that subject. If Banerjee really read my PAD, he would have known that. I have already had FORCED ECT and it traumatized me terribly.”

      On May 16, 2015, there will be worldwide protests against electroshock/ECT, in several US states and multiple countries. Though no protest is planned for Connecticut, I intend to take part in one of the protests in New Jersey.

      Main page for the protests:

      Yours Truly,

      Chris Dubey
      [email protected]]

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    • “I will just say that ECT today bears no resemblance to what you received and is nothing akin to torture” — MT

      That’s exactly what my doctors told me in 2005 before they tortured me with involuntary ECT and yes it was torture.

      Also, the old version of ECT, including unmodified ECT, is still practiced in other countries, and done by force often.

      “Imagine being dragged against your will to a room where you can hear women screaming. You aren’t told what is happening to you. You are held down in a chair, given an injection, have cotton stuffed in your mouth, then given a jolt of electricity through a band wrapped around your head. Imagine waking up on a mattress on the floor half an hour later feeling dazed and confused, only to discover you have soiled yourself but don’t remember why. This is the reality of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), under anesthesia but without consent in India”

      “The Indian Psychiatric Society meets this weekend and should take a strong and clear stand against unmodified ECT and the use of ECT without free and informed consent. Doctors and advocates continue to debate the effectiveness of both modified and unmodified ECT, with no real conclusion. But what is clear is that countless people are forced to undergo such treatment against their will and with possible serious side effects. Shocking without consent should come to an end.”

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  3. If this campaign succeeds and electroshock use is eliminated or severely restricted, what replaces electroshock? It’s one of many forms of psychiatric coercion. Without electroshock, traumatized people will still experience the void created by insufficient economic and social resources, i.e. not enough love, friends, safe places to talk, safe housing, job opportunities, etc.

    On MIA, I would like to see less criticism and debate of the existing system, and more voices in favor of initiating a new system – i.e. providing crucial resources like housing, psychotherapy, peer-to-peer support groups, etc. In the Netherlands, for example, a recent pilot study of intensive 3-year, 2-time-weekly psychotherapy for “borderline personality disorder” people found that society saved money in the long-term compared to treatment-as-usual, because most people in the program socially recovered and returned to work:

    This study of “severe borderlines” featured people who would otherwise be likely to have been drugged and cycle in and out of the psychiatric system for life, whether or not electroshock was used on them. Why can we not provide these resources to “borderlines” and “schizophrenics” here in the USA?

    Intensive/frequent social support is the positive resource that can transform people’s lives. Stopping electroshock is “feel good”, and is truly a good thing, but doesn’t go nearly far enough. In my opinion there should be less focus on fighting psychiatry, a process which continues to make psychiatry central to our thinking when it should not be, and more focus on meeting core emotional-social needs of distressed people.

    This goes along with the overfocus on medication which I believe is present on MIA. Medication shouldn’t be the focus of every other discussion about mental health and recovery. It’s only become that way because it’s a profit center for corporations. By focusing more on what truly helps people’s souls/psyches, which is emphatically not medication, we would make more progress than by endlessly debating how much medication, why are young people on meds, how do people do on or off medication, how to come off medication, etc. etc. etc. Again, not that these issues are not important in themselves…

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    • Of course I agree that we should be not just talking about, but actually developing constructive ways to help people. There is a lot of discussion of that on MIA already. The problem with saying that is that the people who benefit from the present system won’t allow anything better to exist, and they fight it tooth and nail.

      A psychiatrist who I greatly admired, Loren Mosher, when he had a high level title with the National Institute of Mental Health (Chief of Schizophrenia Studies) believed that people with mental problems were not being helped by being locked up and drugged. So he started a couple of places called Soteria House, where people got little or no drugs, but had a safe place to stay with a lot of emotional support. For this, he was driven out of his job with the NIMH.

      Even though Soteria Houses were shown to be very effective, I know of only two of them in the US now, because the psychiatric profession, which is virtually owned by the drug companies, won’t allow them to be funded.

      I think also that you should view what we do as a human rights movement. When people’s rights are being violated, that should be resisted. And as Frederick Douglass observed, correctly, many years ago, “Power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did and it never will.”

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      • what is effective, or more effective than ECT, would be sitting with someone who is distressed and showing an interest in them and thier lives and also getting to know thier friends and family and helping them sit with and understand the person who is distressed.

        That’s my opinion. I have no peer reviewed studies, sorry about that.

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  4. You cannot be serious. ECT is the equivalent of an electrical lobotomy. It is assaulting people multiple times, causing organic brain syndrome. Just because the patient isn’t thrashing about and breaking bones does not make shock “new and improved”. It is just less scary to look at for “doctors” and nurses. Higher voltages are used to overcome the “paralysis. The seizure is “restricted to the brain”? As if that is a “good thing”?? Neurologists who are “real” doctors do everything in their power to eliminate seizures in their patients but “psychiatrists” reject all the evidence and stubbornly claim this lunatic bogus “treatment” is a “medical” one.

    If I want to brain damage myself by hitting myself in the head with a bat, fine. But “doctors” should not be able to brain damage individuals and call it “therapy”. There is no benefit that cancels out the likelihood of brain injury. Loss of short and long term memory, changes to personality and loss of cognitive abilities are the effects of ECT. Add trauma, increased risk of stroke, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.
    Patients are usually sick and desperate and drugged and not truly informed of the brain damage they will experience because the propaganda has promoted the idea that ECT is “safe and effective” when it is really unpredictable and dangerous. After a few shocks the victims lose their ability to think clearly, to demand a halt to the “procedure”.
    Psychiatrists “need” this in their “theraputic armamentarium” which already consists of toxic
    poisons marketed as “medications”? ?Psychiatry needs to be banned as a worthless pseudo science. It continues to expand its market for ECT by promoting it for children and the elderly.
    ECT is a human rights violation, a bogus “treatment” that is primitive and destructive.
    I suggest you go Peter Breggin’s website and read Bonnie Burstow’s article “Problematizing the Problematic” to understand why “informed consent” can not exist regarding ECT.
    Repeat: ECT is the equivalent of a lobotomy.
    We have the stories of the “survivors” who have been harmed: Marilyn Rice, Linda Andre ( who lost 5 years of her memories and 40 IQ points), Peggy Salters ( how did her award of $630,000 make up for the loss of 30 years of memory and her career and brain atrophy), Loretta Wilson, Evelyn Scogin, Jonathan Cott, Wendy Funk ( who could not remember his husband or children), Debra Schwartzkopf, Mary Maddock….. The list goes on
    and on.
    Andre’s book “Doctors of Deception” is something you need to read.

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    • If there is a viable alternative to medications and physical interventions like ECT in the treatment of the severely mentally ill, I would love to hear about it. Paralysis is induced in order to prevent the person being treated from breaking bones or teeth while having a seizure, not for the comfort of providers. By its very nature, this type of induced paralysis is completely unrelated to seizure threshhold, so higher voltages are not needed or used. If you speak to a neurologist you will find that they understand ECT almost as well as psychiatrists do, since it has also been an occasional treatment in their own field; and they will tell you that self-limited seizures, like those induced in ECT, are not in themselves dangerous to the brain. And above all, the bulk of the evidence clearly supports the use of ECT in the treatment of severe depression and catatonia. Neglecting the evidence and NOT offering ECT when it is clinically indicated would actually be considered malpractice.

      The argument that ECT should be banned because it is ineffective is not going to gain traction because it is not based in reality. Arguments that its risks outweigh its benefits or that it is being misused are much more likely to prevail.

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        • Hi John — thanks for your thoughts. Dr Read is an outspoken opponent of biological psychiatry and would surely support the protests this article describes. I don’t know why his findings with literature reviews are consistently different from those of others. His is indeed the most recent review on the topic, though I will also add that research on ECT is unfortunately very rare nowadays, simply as a matter of funding. The best I can say is that the studies should be compared side by side to try to figure out why their findings are so disparate.

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          • I’d be greatful if you could do that, espciallay as you are a proponant of ECT. Without doing that you are giving your patients care that is fully informed by the evidence.

            Whether Read and Bental are biased or not they present a cogent analysis and I think you have a duty to examine it to arrive at treatment decisions that are in the best interest of your patients.

            I would therefore be greatful if you would do that before posting on here again as without that you cannot be fully informed of the relevant arguments on this issues.

            In other words, you have to proove Read and Bental are so biased that thier paper is not worth considering by reading it and presenting a valid arguement answering it.

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      • Though you may be right about what the public will accept as a framing, ECT has been shown to be ineffective in more than the very shortest term temporary symptom relief. As has been documented by a number of writers, the “benefits” are very similar if not identical to the symptoms of a closed head injury. The reason I think we get confused is that psychiatry as an institution has redefined these “mental disorders” purely in terms of “symptoms” which are somewhat arbitrarily grouped into “disorders” that have no actual etiology. So saying that ECT “works” is only based on the assumption that feeling less depressed temporarily is evidence of efficacy. On this basis, drinking three shots of tequila at breakfast lunch and dinner is an effective treatment for anxiety. And really, it would be. But it’s not a medical treatment. It’s an attempt to make the person feel better temporarily without any understanding of what one is “treating.” ECT is a crude approach which has no mechanistic basis for understanding why it might “work,” not to mention that there is no mechanistic understanding of what it is “working” on. So claiming it is effective is about as silly as saying that getting buzzed all day is effective, except the side effects are far, far worse.

        Sending electricity through someone’s brain as a “treatment” is a complete admission of failure. If hitting someone on the head with a 2×4 made them feel better temporarily, I’d say the same thing. It is not a treatment for anything – it is an intentional induction of a seizure causing intentional brain damage. There is nothing “effective” about it. If you can’t help someone without damaging their brain, it’s time to hand their care on to someone with some better ideas.

        —- Steve

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      • MT:

        My daughter was catatonic in the ICU long enough to be catheterized but not long enough to be on a feeding tube. The shrink wanted to shock her and I looked into getting an emergency injuntion.we vigiled by her bed and talked to her and played music for her. We even got the shrink who wanted to shock her get out his guitar and play for her. We bathed her and got friends and neighbors to visit. We brought flowers and essential oils and smudging sticks. Our priest came by and anointed her with healing oil. We healed ourselves and whispered loving words in her ears. A peer counselor came to her bedside and told her she was important. We has family meals around her bedside and tempted her with models. The shrink gave her ativan intravenously. The director of medical ethics talked to her when she started to utter syllables and he ascertained that she did not want to be shocked. Catatonia is not a disease. It is a despair so deep that one loses the will to remain in the body. The ativan was a helpful tool in that situation but the community and inclusivity and love was critical. Empowerment, hope, and love heal more deeply and effectively than chemical fixes. My daughter pulled out of the coma like state in 10 days. Unfortunately she was put in an institution and forcibly drugged with neuroleptics and cut off from visitors after that so the miraculous momentum of recovery was impeded greatly. She is still struggling but has never become catonic ince that time. I only share the story to show that the alternative to shock worked

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      • Well, US neurologist Dr. John Friedberg is the author of the book “Shock Treatment is Not Good for Your Brain” and the peer reviewed article in the American Journal of Psychiatry titled “Shock Treatment, Brain Damage, and Memory Loss” has plenty to say about ECT. He stated , “All ECT does is produce brain damage… If you want brain damage it is your prerogative… There is no more effective way than ECT. It’s more effective than a car wreck or getting hit with a blunt instrument.” This neurologist points to MRI and CT scans of
        ECT victims showing “hemorrhages, large and small, which can cause permanent seizure disorders in some people.” Another study documented the breakdown of the blood brain barrier and cerebral edema-brain swelling, after each and every shock.

        Us neurosurgeon, Frank Vertosick equated ECT to “repairing a computer with a chainsaw.”
        Commenting on the extent of brain damage caused by ECT, neurosurgeon Karl H. Pribram said, ” I would rather have a small lobotomy than a series of electroconvulsive shock- I know what the brain looks like after a series of shocks, and it isn’t very pretty to look at.”
        Dr. Breggin states, “There is extensive literature confirming brain damage from ECT . This damage is demonstrated in many large animal studies, human autopsy studies, brain wave studies, and an occasional CT scan.”

        Breggin concludes:” ECT is wholly irrational, unjustifiable ‘treatment'”.

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  5. MT, I was lucky my own damage as a direct result of shock “only” lasted a year and a half. So for that year and a half, I could barely dress myself, couldn’t go out walking alone, couldn’t figure out how to brush my teeth, could barely put a sentence together, and occasionally, couldn’t figure out how to stand up. During that lengthy period, McLean and Dr. Michael Henry must have been scared out of their minds that my parents would put two and two together. Before shock, I had a job. There was no chance of my working after the shock. Before shock, I had a bubbly personality and laughed a lot. After shock, I was confused all the time. I wish someone had approached me and said, “We are sorry. We are the ones responsible for the condition you are in now. We don’t even know if you will come back. Here’s a million dollars and we will never enslave you again.” I am very lucky that I am still alive to tell you all this. I hope my you-tube gets widely distributed and those torture doctors and McLean Hospital both get exposed for what they did, and that they are stopped.

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  6. Ted, I did a writeup of our own protest here in Uruguay. Here it is. I know people were asking for stories. I wrote this real fast and never bothered to revise it, figuring no one would really want the story. I hope I am wrong.

    As you can see, I wrote this and posted it this two days after the protest.

    Julie Greene

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    • I have no problem agreeing with Ms. Andre. By the sound of it she was severely misled about the effects of ECT, which is malpractice, tantamount to assault. Her proposed ECT consent is, for the most part, quite reasonable. Our understanding of risks and benefits has increased substantially since she wrote this in 1991, and I believe she downplays the therapeutic benefits, but I am in absolute agreement about fully informed consent before treatment.

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      • How can you have fully informed consent for someone who is deeply desperate and depressed? If you offered almost anything they are likely to say yes…even while telling them all the risks…because they are looking for anything at that point.

        But the larger point is that while some may feel relief, this barbaric procedure leaves some with severe memory loss, cognitive decline, deepening depression, anxiety and suicidality.

        Is that really a treatment that should be promoted?

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        • You are quite right that informed consent with severely ill persons is a major issue. The medical community and the legal system agree, which is why the laws on this are very clear. If a person is unable to appropriately weigh the risks and benefits of a medical decision, they are considered to lack decisional capacity, and having them sign an informed consent is illegal. In that case, care can be given only on an emergency basis (ECT doesn’t qualify) or with the informed consent of their legal decision maker, often whoever is their medical power of attorney. Even with the consent of the POA, at least in my state, ECT cannot be given against the wishes of the patient without going through a separate and very extensive legal process regarding guardianship. Usually a patient will agree to treatment because they trust their loved one to make the right decision.

          It is absolutely appropriate to question the ethics of this whole situation. However, in practical terms, what is the alternative? Severe depression is life-threatening, and medications will take several weeks, at best, to take effect. It is basically impossible to do meaningful psychotherapy with most severely depressed individuals. In many cases ECT is the only treatment that will take effect quickly enough.

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          • MT,


            This comment you made… you start off sounding like a lawyer and close by sounding like a doctor. For what it’s worth, I don’t trust many in either profession.

            Take a look at the link above, you’ll find out more about ECT than you probably care to know. Legal “experts” and medical “experts”… all these so-called experts; yet look at the mess we’re in!


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          • What is the alternative?

            Well that is a very large question. But I would suggest that seeing that ECT is the *only* solution at that point is deeply myopic.

            When the only solution renders a portion of those they treat with grave brain damage, one must really wonder about the “cure.”

            Psychiatry has not really ever looked at “alternatives”, have they? They are pretty much stuck on drugs and electroshock.

            I think it would be wonderful if they actually, truly explored alternatives. Imagine if they looked at nutrition, socio-economic factors, peer supports, acupuncture, and yes…greater access to individual counseling (which insurance companies makes impossible via co-pays and deductibles for low income earners.)

            But really there aren’t too many insurance supported “alternatives” because psychiatry takes all the air out of the room. The money all goes to…meds…or ECT.

            And perhaps we should ask a deeper question. If someone is deeply suicidal due to depression because “they have tried everything else”, meaning gone through taking reams of SSRIs, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and TCAs, perhaps…perhaps…the suicidal depression is happening in large part…

            due to the iatrogenic effects of the meds themselves?

            Consider that possibility the next time you see some one who is considering ECT.

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          • MT,

            From Peter Breggin, MD:

            :ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) involves the application of two electrodes to the head to pass electricity through the brain with the goal of causing an intense seizure or convulsion. The process always damages the brain, resulting each time in a temporary coma and often a flatlining of the brain waves, which is a sign of impending brain death. After one, two or three ECTs, the trauma causes typical symptoms of severe head trauma or injury including headache, nausea, memory loss, disorientation, confusion, impaired judgment, loss of personality, and emotional instability. These harmful effects worsen and some become permanent as routine treatment progresses.”

            More here:



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          • I have spoken to many hundreds of suicidal people on the phone and in person in the emergency room. I have yet to find one yet who would talk to me that I have not been able to help using communication alone. Depression is almost always related to a sense of being unable to control or master the environment you are living in. It is a biological coping mechanism for the organism not to waste energy when in a situation that doesn’t allow for an immediate solution, such as being trapped and unable to move or starving in a cave when there are still weeks before food becomes available. Depression is not in and of itself the problem in almost every case. It’s an indication of another problem. Finding out what is going on, what the person has tried, when they’ve done well in the past, what brought that about, what has changed, what do they wish were different, what do they control vs. what don’t they control, and so forth, almost always leads a person to feeling a little more in control of some aspect of their lives and a little less depressed. Does this instantly change the situation? No. Is ECT faster. Sure. But ECT does not convey hope or increase control – it conveys victimhood and a lack of control, hoping that somehow having an electrically-induced seizure will make everything OK.

            The husband of one of my volunteers was becoming deaf and feeling it was impairing his functioning and made him feel useless as he approached the age of 80. He was chronically depressed and hopeless for some time, but it seemed to me the reasons were pretty damned clear. His doctor recommended a course of ECT, and they did this for many months. His wife tried to remain positive and saw short-term improvements following “treatment,” but he predictably returned to his baseline within weeks, or sometimes days, just as the research suggests most commonly happens. After a year of this, they vacated Portland and lived in southern California for a year. He was cured! A change of venue was all that was required, but he was being electrocuted three times a week for a year with no benefit, while no one bothered to even discuss why he might feel this way or what could be done to help besides inducing seizures and damaging his brain.

            That’s “standard practice” ECT today. It is appalling and it is NOT effective, except in the most crude and short-term of measurements. There is ALWAYS something better you could do.

            —- Steve

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          • “In many cases ECT is the only treatment that will take effect quickly enough.”

            In Texas, according to data of r Treatments Given September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014, 6 people died within 14 days of having had ECT.



            Patients have spoken out about the trauma of both forced and voluntary ECT and to assume their “mental illness” is the sole factor and that the ECT was not a factor is pure psychiatric conjecture, while the many accounts of patients tell what they really experience, as opposed to what psychiatric professionals observe or perceive.

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  7. MT, To me, no person, especially not a person with medical training, earns my respect if he upholds torturous practices and continues to hand out permanent harmful diagnoses for temporary conditions, which only serve to degrade, insult, terrorize a person and leave her with nothing left. It’s not care nor treatment and it has nothing to do with the practice of medicine. It’s imprisonment and slavery, and ultimately, genocide.

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    • Julie, I’m sorry to hear that, and it’s clear that you feel very strongly about this. If I believed what you say to be the case, that psychiatry is imprisonment, slavery and genocide, I wouldn’t be willing to work in the field and would not respect anyone who did. There are depths of suffering among psychiatric patients that cannot be fathomed by those who have never cared for them. Treatments like ECT are only used when practitioners believe that they are the only way to pull a person out of suicidal depression or profound catatonia, both of which are acutely life-threatening. I’m sorry that you had such a wretched experience with psychiatrists, because it sounds like you were indeed severely mistreated. I hope that the people who did that to you are brought to justice. I do not believe that they are representative of psychiatry in general, which in my experience is populated largely by well-meaning people trying to alleviate suffering.

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        • You’re correct. It is also sometimes used in severe agitation, particularly in patients with autism; severe mania not responsive to medications; or, rarely, in the treatment of schizophrenia. There might be rare use of it in other settings but I suspect this is without much supportive evidence.

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          • but you have no evidence so you could be wrong.

            It does raise questions of who decides to use ECT and who checks to see they are not abusing thier power.

            I acknowledge that many see all use of ECT as an abuse of power.

            If it does not save lives, and Read and Bental says it does not, and if other effective methods of helping people are avialable, and I suspect there are, then it is indeed an abuse of power in every case.

            To find out if other methods that are just as effecive are available we might have to look at places where ECT is not used and then look at outcome studies. Does anyone know if this has been done?

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      • MT, these are doctors at McLean and Mass General. They were said to be the best. The top. My story is typical, not at all unusual and those doctors treated many people I knew and loved. Most are dead now. Early death. What’s unusual about me is that 1) I’m alive after all that, and 2) I choose to speak openly about what happened. I left the USA so that I could continue to exercise Freedom of Speech, without fear of further retaliation on the part of the guilty.

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  8. MT, I asked for shock. I wanted it. But after the first one, I couldn’t think straight anymore. I was not capable of expressing myself. How, then, could they have called that “informed consent”? My boyfriend tried to stop them, telling them quite clearly that the shock was making me worse. My parents tried. They would not stop.

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  9. John Hodgett, do not underestimate the power of individual stories. This is my main criticism of MIA, that our voices are not highlighted as most important of all, but instead, buried among “expert” testimony from people who have mostly never been through what I know in my heart as the most horrific thing I have ever been through. Story is sacred. Stories move people because they can relate on a human and very visceral level. Even a person who has never been through something like shock can read our stories, and because we are not much unlike our readers, our readers will empathize and understand just how wrong shrinkage is. Without individual stories or horror or triumph or both, our statistics fall flat and become meaningless. I appeal to anyone reading this now to honor these stories and to tell your own. I wish MIA was more written by survivors and less by people who are already basking in their fame and fortune.

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    • I am all for personal stories. I have spent a lot of time helping survivors of psychiatry find ways of bringing forth thier stories. I am a founder of speak out against psychiatry:

      However Dr’s like to quote evidence. That often influences them more than personal stories and it is shocking that they so often glibly ignore people’s personal experiences both of, “treatment,” and anything else about people’s lives.

      I think a movement is a lot more than influencing Dr’s so I welcome bringing forward personal stories from survivors here and elsewhere.

      What I would really like is to hear stories of succesful survivor lead campaiging.

      I also look forward to seeing a growing movement that uses a range of effective tactics and develping effective alternatives to psychiatry and that includes hearing survivor stories, seeing survivor campaigns as well as challanging psychiatrists on the science.

      Right now though I am asking MT to justify his position, partly because it is a skill I want to develop. He is using his evidence to ignore people’s personal stories. Yet I suspect his evidence is weak and so I am asking him to justify it.

      I hope this does not come accross as ingnoring peoples personal stories. When I put up I was doing an anti-ECT protest on my facebook page I had people saying they knew people who had it and were never the same again, so I do value personal stories of appaling psychiatric abuse.

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      • John,

        Doctors (not all) seem to want it to have it both ways regarding evidence. They’ll either quote specific studies that many time are quite weak and biased.

        Or if they don’t exist, then they start claiming that based on their clinical experience, what they say is true. So in that sense, they are using stories to justify a treatment but yet when then they hear ones that are opposite from their clinical experience, that is considered to be anecdotal evidence.

        I don’t know, it seems like we could have a million success stories of being recovering without meds and ECT and it wouldn’t matter to psychiatry because they are so biased in favor of meds. But if someone is doing a google search and comes upon these success stories, that could be the best treatment of all the options.

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        • AA, I agree with your point.

          That is why it takes more than sceince to succeed in most social movements.

          Good science is needed, and good science should reflect the experiences of survivors of psychiatry, if it doesn’t it isn’t good science, but change will only come when the power of psychiatrists and drug companies are undermined. That takes a lot of organising and campaigning. However it looks like there is growing movement that wants to do that.

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          • Hi John,

            Not to sound like a naysayer but I am not optimistic about the power of psychiatry and drug companies being undermined. In the US, they have infiltrated PCPs office with the “Health without Mental Health” campaign. So now when one goes to a PCP, the chances of being unknowingly screened for depression are high which we all know will result in an SSRI if someone provides a “wrong” answer. Sure, you can refuse to take the questionnaire if you know what is going on but someone told me she knew a person who did that and still ended up with an “MI” label in her chart. It is so disgusting.

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    • Julie, it sounds like you and others would like a discussion on ownership of the Mad in America site and a discussion with the owners of how much should survivor voices have input into editorial decisions.

      A liberation movement needs to have the most opprressed either leading it or having a large role.

      However there are roles for other actors, as Robert Whitiker, critial psychiatrists and others have shown.

      These thinkgs seem like worthwhile things to discuss.

      I would like to see a growing, effective survivor movement, whether developed through Mad in America or via another route.

      It is unlikely that I will be taking a large role in discsussions on either what the role of survivors should be in the development of Mad in America or in developing the survivor movement but I hope those who do the best of luck.

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  10. I think Ted’s point is not whether or not ECT is okay, but how we can use this worldwide unified protest as a stepping stone to further activism. We can use this as a model for future protests. I see why ECT was chosen since it’s very much a no-brainer that it destroys wonderful, intelligent humans by damaging their brains, destroying their credibility (as I see here) and also tearing apart perfectly fine families. All I want to say is that survivor voices need to be upheld as THE expert viewpoint, and the only expert viewpoint, on patient “care” and other atrocities. For this reason, A few of us are starting our own online literary publication for SURVIVORS ONLY. If MIA wants to link to it, fine, if not, fine. As for Facebook, I’m done with that, and I think the Movement needs to move away from it.

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    • As for Facebook, I’m done with that, and I think the Movement needs to move away from it.

      Totally agreed! FB is little more than a surveillance tool, i.e. a vehicle for data banking, facial recognition and no doubt personality profiling. It is the last place people want to start talking about their personal issues, organizing ideas, etc., or even to give up the personal info needed to sign on to FB. I hope you’ll educate people about this in your online travels.

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  11. ECT could be Psychiatry’s weakest Link as if shown to be damaging it could bring a rush of criminal and civil suits from which they would never recover and being only profession that delivers it would have to take the hit whereas drugs are widespread and delivered by many professions.


    “Electric shock should not be available as a choice just as thalidomide is not available to pregnant woman. After fifty years of practicing this hoax, psychiatrists are not likely to suddenly agree that it is harmful. As soon as they do, they know there would be a rush of criminal and civil suits from
    which they would never recover. Governments should outlaw it.”

    Dr. Michael Chavin

    For more information contact:
    Citizens Commission on
    Human Rights®
    Ph/Fax 09 373 3897
    PO Box 5257 Auckland
    [email protected]


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  12. Jonathan Keyes said,

    “”When the only solution renders a portion of those they treat with grave brain damage, one must really wonder about the “cure.” “”

    Exactly, particularly when causing grave brain damage leads to more depression which psychiatry seems to conveniently overlook.

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  13. We need to look at other socially active communities out there and learn from them. Two communities that come to mind are the Autism/Asperger’s community, which seems to be well unified, and also the Deaf community. (Apologies if I have capitalized these in error, apparently there are policies and differences in meaning whether capitalized or not but I am not going to look it up right now.) I saw the National Theater for the Deaf when I was 18, well before I’d ever set foot in a therapist’s office. I believe this was summer of 1976. I was so impressed with the performance and realized that this reflected unity within the community of deaf folks. We psych survivor are not unified enough. There are various groups and all kinds of gurus and favoritism. I think we need to draw up guiding principles or use what was set forth in 1982 when it was called Patients’ Liberation. I think we also need to be more democratic. MIA is only one website. I think to level the playing field a bit we need more sites. If you are a survivor, then you know that being trapped in psych means they run your entire life, not just your brain, and the harms go far further than drugs. They tell you when to poop, for chrissake! They steal our souls, which is a far more destructive crime than damaging one organ. To state that this is about science and the brain only disregards the real crime. That’s why I am starting my own site where art, literature, poetry, and other forms of meaningful self-expression are honored. To state that art is not meaningful, important, nor effective communication trivializes the important work we do, and is in effect, silencing us. I don’t think those of us who loved Pete Seeger would agree that song isn’t an essential tool of communication. My hope is to give us our voices back, since most of us are still de-voiced and silent.

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  14. Stephen Gilbert said,

    “”It takes effect quickly because it’s creating the same effect as a TBI and in fact is a TBI as far as I’m concerned.””

    Exactly Stephen. And I am wondering if MT and his colleagues would consent to treatment that would result in a TBI and prevent them from practicing psychiatry or medicine in any way?

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  15. As for expertise, as the others have stated, those of us who have endured these “treatments” are the only experts in this topic. While I am appreciative of those that choose to gather statistics that “prove” that psychiatry is no more justified than any other genocide, statistics can be argued fruitlessly and twisted around forever. I also appreciate the few scientists and medical people who risk their reputations and even their lives to stand up for those of us who have been disempowered. Without a doubt I appreciate those medical workers who dare to be whisleblowers, many of whom end up with psych labels and loss of license as a way for the establishment to discredit these vitally important reports. I feel that more credit is due to those of us experts, actual survivors of ECT, who have posted on here and who took risks to participate in the protests. The protests were so vital to our cause, honoring the voices of real survivors. We need more broadcasts, more publications, more websites, and more opportunities to have our voices heard. Lauren Tenney does a terrific job of this with her show, Talk with Tenney. I am no longer on Facebook but if anyone wants to continue dialogue with me privately I can be reached at [email protected].

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  16. Good point, this young psychiatrist needs to broaden herself/himself by reaching beyond just what psychiatry in medical taught her or him. Medical school is very narrow in its scope to begin with, there are few Humanities courses, no History, and no Literature, especially not World Literature. Doctors need a broader education than they get and this is part of the problem with all specialties of medicine, not just psychiatry.

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    • I think there is something interesting about psychiatrists and pro-psychiatry commentators on Mad in America.

      They tend not to comment on blogs that are written by people who are versed in science and who have read and disected scientific papers such as Philip Hickey, Michael Corrigan or Robert Whittiker. Instead they tend to comment on more personal pieces and often on pieces by people who have been personally adversely effected by psychiatry.

      Often they try to quote science or rather they quote the commonly held believes of psychiatry and try to use science to back it up. But when questioned on the science they back off or repeat themselves without answering the question that challenges thier believes.

      I think that challenging such people on the science is important. But I don’t belive it is the entirety of any movement that wants to challange psychiatry, or even the most important part. I do think it important that some people are able to do it though.

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        • Ted I was thinking that we need armies of us to go into the shrinks’ offices and courtrooms and do what we just did. I remember countless times being in hospitals and arguing that what they were doing to me or to other patients was inhumane. They would surround me and not allow me to get a word in, continuously bullying me and telling me what they were doing was “care” and repeating that they were the “experts” and I was stupid. They finally had to resort to saying I lacked insight just to make sure the nurses didn’t pay the least attention to me. I saw them roll their eyes every time I tried to speak to them. I was treated like kindergarten. They were soul-killers. Would love it if a bunch of us could go bully a shrink because surely, they lack insight if they can’t see that what they are doing is ruining lives, tearing families apart, and torturing people. Thousands of people now hate psychiatry. Could we all be wrong? I don’t think so.

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          • This is done is other struggles. It is called Direct Action Advocacy. Mind Freedom run an online version of this where people write e-mails and letters on behalf who is being forced tretment they do not want. But radical advocacy where someone goes and talks on behalf of the person and if that does not work groups invade a ward, stand outside with banners, follow the Dr’s round and hold up banners saying what they think of them…… would be a face to face way of doing it and a great way of raising awareness of psychiatric abuse.

            There is a man in Scotland who got his wife released from psychiatric care by going to every meeting he could where the psychiatrist concered was and asking pertinant questions very forcefully. Eventaully, after about four months he got his wife released. This is the only case I have heard of where this happened but it is worth noting.

            Here is an article on direct action advocacy

            I think people also need psychological and social support and drug withdrawal services. Both could be provided by surviors on a voluntary basis in local groups. I think people need these as I saw sevearal people repeatedly sectioned in an anti-psychiatry campaign group I was involved in.

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  17. I should add and I am very saddened to say this in my experience psychiatrists and perhaps doctors in other specialities seem to know the least about the suffering of the human spirit and its expressions; the body and mind.

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  18. Part of what I consider to be my own deep understanding about what makes people stronger health wise and what makes them weaker is my clarity about the predominately detrimental long term effects of psychiatry the pseudoscientists pseudoscience,The American Medical Association medicine treatments and whatever they do only at most , 35% of their modalities are effective to benefit the human being the rest is outright quackery for profit and has caused more suffering to more people then even wars. American Dental Association a veritable fortress of quackery causing human suffering along with the AMA on a Biblical scale. That with it’s toxic metal overloads misuse, and cover up of dangerous modalities like root canals and refusal to reform and become holistic dentists like Hal Huggins was . Anyways I could go on about this for hours and volumes.
    Besides we must take care of our own , Debra Schwartzkopff must be supported in every best way we can at this time it appears she is our Rosa Parks. We need more info on what she needs us to do . Are there enough people where she is to support her efforts ?

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  19. Precisely, Steve McRae, your point well taken and well expressed regarding depression. My feeling too, that the body is ignored while psychiatry tinkers with the brain alone. Depression is a whole-body response. So every organ and organ system is involved, right down to the skin. Many are parts of the body over which we do indeed have control, for instance, voluntary muscles. I believe, also, that our bodies react when put on the defensive in some way. I know as a long-time sufferer of eating problems I know my body braces itself for famine quite frequently, and also, for wild variations in appetite. I recently wrote about this. I don’t think there have been studies on this. If a person is driving to a late-night convenience store hellbent on buying food to binge on, the stomach is already preparing for a feast that is far larger than it can safely handle. The catch-22 is that the more gastric juices and activity, the more the appetite increases as the person drives toward the store. That’s why you see folks like me, looking wild-eyed in those stores, on edge and fearful. If you are a clerk, you see us late at night. As soon as we leave, if you are still eyeballing us, we are ripping open the packages and stuffing what we bought into our mouths. What no one knows nor recognizes is that our bodies drive us to an insane appetite level. I am sure depression works in a similar manner.

    It’s so much about the whole body and to remedy it, we can choose: Wait till it passes. Most people, caregivers included, assume that depression will last forever. Honestly, since I already had the dx of “rapid cycler,” why on earth was shock even suggested to me in 1995? I recall, though, the doctor’s words, “We need to get you our of here faster.” When I got home, I learned that I had very few lifetime Medicare days left, which explains why the next 15 or so hospitalizations at McLean were the fast track versions. When I ran out entirely, it meant state hospital. They told me I was too sick. I knew that they were tossing me out, the result of another failed experiment, a busted up human they needed to quickly hide, lest the patient or her parents “talk.”

    The other option is to decide you don’t want to wait. You change your life. Depression means our bodies aren’t pleased and want something else. They might want different food, a different environment, or to be surrounded by more or fewer humans. I feel that entrapment is usually the cause of depression, not the result, even though a person might feel trapped in a rotten mood. Going to a shrink will immediately entrap a person, as they are now under their “care” and their lives now run by a prescription pad. Often, they are already trapped in a relationship, parental oppression, or lousy job. When I had the shock, my dad, who was a NAMI monitor for MA state hospitals, suggested to me that the prison-like environment of McLean Hospital was so oppressive that it would, in itself, cause depression. He was right on.

    If anyone from the McLean staff is reading this right now, I want you to know that you failed to shut me up. You failed to hide from me what you really did. I am, indeed, talking. Loud and clear. My late dad would be so proud of me. I can see him smiling right now.

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  20. It looks as if Doctor Anonymous, whoever he or she is, is gone, at least for today. The arrogance of this person really makes me angry.

    This psychiatrist was allowed to hijack our discussion, which was supposed to be about our next steps in fighting for our human rights. You can bet if any of us were commenting in, say, Psychiatric News, our comments wouldn’t last thirty seconds, and we would be blocked.

    We have important work to do to free ourselves, and we should not have to put up with this.

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    • Thanks, Ted. That’s a good reminder. I saw one last October but not as a patient. I told him to his face that psychiatry had harmed “a friend of mine” and for that reason, I refused to ever speak to one. He continued to do his job, trying to squeeze conversation out of me. He asked me what had happened to my friend. I replied that she died, that she had killed herself because of what psychiatry had done to her. I didn’t admit my own past association and 50+ hospitalizations and over three decades of work as slave to the System. That wasn’t necessary. I told him, “I have no respect for the psychiatric profession, and this conversation is over.” I have to laugh. The guy stomped off in a huff, with his medical students trailing behind. I will never forget that beard of his. Impeccable. No hair out of place.

      Round here, doctors tend to be informal, introducing themselves by first name. The medical doctor I met here actually sat down while conversing with bedridden patients, to ensure that he did not tower over them. He had come to Uruguay to get away from the medical regime in Germany. I was happy to teach him an estadosunidiense expression I know well. “Red tape.” I was thrilled hearing his attempts to use it in a sentence. That was where we met halfway.

      I’m still afraid of doctors and all they stand for, because of the abuse. I am not afraid to take my dog to the vet, though. Last September I had to bring Puzzle in there as she had just been bitten by another dog. She wouldn’t let anyone near the site of the injury. Dr. F, who goes by his first name, had to sedate her since it was necessary to examine the bite closely to see just how deep the puncture had gone. He felt around the wound very gently with his fingertips, and also used a stethoscope. Uh oh. I felt my body tighten up. I told myself, “I hope he doesn’t sling that thing around his neck.” He didn’t. He hung it back on the wall so I wouldn’t have to see it. That night, Puzzle cried in her sleep. The vet explained that she’d been in shock and also was suffering from trauma. He assured me that she would be okay.

      What the vet said was true. Puzzle is fine. I might have a mark on me, a sign here and there that I was harmed by psychiatry, but she has healed from the bite, and now, no scar is left.

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    • Ted,

      Your blog post was on the subject of shock protests in 9 countries!

      Even though ‘Dr. Anonymous’ tried to hijack the subject, he was unsuccessful… The larger issue is that progress is being made… In large part due to people like you!

      Thank you, sir.


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  21. Thanks for asking, Ted. As soon as I mentioned it online, a number of people have approached me, mostly via email, asking about how they can help out or be of support in some way. I am in the rather preliminary stages, gathering together people who might desire to take on editorial roles and also people who can deal with the legal end and do publicity. I wrote up a brief mission statement and shared it with a few people. I was delighted that the feedback was completely supportive. My idea is not only to make this a survivors only publication, but also to have it be owned by survivors, much in the way that some community food coops are owned by hundreds of “members” who contribute a certain amount and can, if they wish, attend meetings and vote, shaping the future of the coop. I saw this in operation with a local food coop based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It seemed also that there was an upper limit to how much they could expand and widen their market. This was evident to me when I noticed they closed a store not long after opening it. They realized that they had taken on too much. The meetings they had were well attended and there were many issues that needed to be addressed. Customer and member feedback were always held in high esteem and taken seriously. As far as “survivor only” goes, I wrote up a definition of survivor, making it as broad as I could. Each person would have to write up a one-time statement stating that they were a survivor. Emphasis would be on freedom of speech and a wide number of genres would be represented. We would include literature, art, even music and film since these can be embedded. So I would need editors who have expertise in certain genres or topics upon which I do not have adequate knowledge to shape those aspects of the magazine and make choices based on their backgrounds and expertise. I don’t want too much in each issue. I want no work to end up lost in the shuffle. Experiences of my peers generally are that when these online or print mags are in the baby stages, it’s very difficult to get any submissions at all. My friend told me his biggest nightmare was that his new magazine would get no submissions! It happens, and I have seen magazines fold rather quickly. That’s why I need many folks working together on this, including folks that are good with publicity. I don’t expect to make a cent on it but to feel very happy to create a space where we give ourselves our voices back. I also intend to include on the staff people who are currently incarcerated or trapped but who are committed to our cause. I feel that this is essential to represent those that are under oppression as well as those of us who have broken out. We are all breaking out, that’s what life is, continuously fighting to stay alive, live freely, and also get along. My wish is that for all of us, being involved in such a project will open doors and bring everyone hope and confidence. We will also send out a strong message in each issue. As far as themed issues goes, I need to think on that one. Oh, I don’t have a title yet. I haven’t even started thinking of one.

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  22. I think discussing how to develope a movement that is in very early stages via a website is difficult. The ECT protest was succesful as it was held in so many countries on one day and well coordianted.

    However in the past someone asked people to brian storm ideas and he selected online activsim tackling wikkipeadia entries and other online media. I found it encouraged me to tackle pro psychiatry charity sites such as Rethink in the UK. So I think it is worth trying to discuss this as a way of trying to catalyze a movement.

    I think encouraging people to set up local chapters of an organisation would be productive and asking them to engage in simple activities such as tea parties to share experiences, letter writing to local papers and setting up support groups for survivors of psychiatry. From that supporter base protests and maybe support groups for drug withdrawal could be set up?

    Setting up alternatives such as psychological support groups similar to hearing voices groups but which say they are doing it because psychiatry causes more harm than good would be a good idea.

    In terms of targets then the mass drugging of children is an obvious one.

    Setting up a survivor newsletter/website or even facebook page is a good idea too. Having a way of promoting local groups within that is something I would suggest as a good thing.

    Having a conference that is either anti-psychaitry, anti forced treatment, or anti-ECT or some other unified theme would be good.

    Education work by training people on giving talks and then arranging local speaker tours would be good too. From this people who are confident in approaching politicians, commissioners of services as well as potential supporters could be developed.

    Smashing an ECT machine, getting arrested and then using the defence of committing a crime to stop a greater one being committed, which is what anti-military Ploughshare activists do, but with weapons of war.

    Banner drops outside pharmacies where people obtain anti-depressants and other drugs, with leaflets and a speak out by people damaged by the drugs is something I can imagine getting press in small towns but not big cities. Coordinated small town actions can have a bigger impact than one big city protest that gets ignored.

    If NAPA or another organisation takes off then I would recomend looking into training from direct action and social movement trainers such as from Trianing for Change

    As for a statement of purpose, and equally important, how to achive your aims are important but probably need to be done democraticaly with a dedicated founding group. Some want to end psychiatry completely, some want it reformed. Some things can probably be easily agreed such as ending ECT, psychosurgery and forced treatment.

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    • my basic message is start small, but aim to grow very big over time.

      Aim to draw people in and support a growing movement.

      Strat with low key tactics but aim to grow to direct action when the movement is gowing and sustaining itself.

      Formats that encourage story telling and forming supportive networks are essential to sustain such a movement but make sure this is tied into the aim of completely overthrowing psychiatry, or if necersarry, or completely reforming it (not so radical but it might be necerasrry to grow a big movement)

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      • Hi John. Thank you for your suggestions, although I won’t try to comment on all of them. We definitely have to start small. Our movement here in the US was nearly destroyed in 1985 with the “Alternatives” conference, and the well-funded Astroturf groups set up by the federal mental illness system. So we are starting from scratch, or more accurately, we are starting from less than that, because now there are so many traitors who do their best to please their funders and sabotage any move to really fight back.

        I think what we can do will depend on what the small group of committed people we have are willing to do. Since we don’t have big numbers, we have to find actions that can be effectively carried out by a relatively small group.

        Above all, we have to throughly discuss and strategize about what we need to do, and I greatly value your suggestions.

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        • In that case I suggest you find a small group of people and develop a manifesto, what you want to achieve and how you want to achive it, before doing much more.

          Then pick another target, or the same one, and try to do another international day of action.

          From that try to develop a community by developing a newsletter/website etc.

          And stick to the manifesto so that any outside funding comes in with as few strings as possible.

          Personally I think being anti-psychiatry in the manifesto but working with those who want to reform it as a step in the right direction might help stop the take over by astroturfers.

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  23. I think I am not explaining properly. This wouldn’t be an “online community.” This would be an edited journal. There wouldn’t be forums nor discussion following each work. This kind of thing wouldn’t be appropriate. A poem is not “right” or “wrong.” You don’t argue its validity. I would hope that if the poem is effective, it leave the readers awestruck. A good performance might lead to a rousing applause. A reader might enjoy laughing at a humor piece. But the art itself is already valid as is the voice of the one who created it. This will not be journalism, as is MIA. Good journalism will spark a healthy debate and points made are often arguable. In that sense this would not be alternative to MIA since it will be serving an entirely different purpose. I feel that this difference is why MIA is more a place to debate science than a place where actual survivor voices are wanted. I think this is why the “personal stories” section pretty much gets ignored. That’s why OUR OWN STORIES need a different venue, as they are not being heard here. In my opinion the site is overrun by too much brain science. This rather conflicts with our argument that it’s not just about the brain. I thought we wanted to get away from that. It’s old news and most of us know better than to even argue these things for too long.

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    • I like what you are saying, Julie, and I would like to be involved in your project in some way. I have too much on my plate already to take a leadership role, but I would be happy to write for you. I already have several pieces that MIA would not publish, so maybe you might. Please keep us all posted.

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      • Thanks, Ted, and anyone out there reading this. I have had an amazing number of positive and supportive responses. I say “amazing” since most of what I suggest or attempt to do falls flat. I’m well aware that the abundance of my dead projects and thwarted ambitions is caused by the fact that I don’t have social charisma nor expertise at finding reliable and consistent supporters. I have too many ideas as it is and not enough decades of life left to pursue and see them all to completion. I guess that leaves them out of the realm of practical and more as simply “dreams.” This idea, though, seems to be taking off, so I’m keeping at it. I’ll keep everyone posted. I am not on FB but can be contacted at [email protected].

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        • It looks like you are trying for a survivor lead, survivor only magazine. I think that there is a need for that. Most movements have such publications – eg radical sepertist feminist spaces and publications.

          I also think there is a need for survivor lead and survivor edited publications that have articles from non-survivors: parents of children who were prescribed psyche drugs and harmed by them, professionals that are onside, campaigners from other causes that in line with survivor philosophies and so on.

          Either way it looks like there is a call for more survivor voices to be heard and that can only be a good thing. So I wish you luck with this project Julie.

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  24. I agree that science arguments are probably wanted here at MIA. Look at the title, after all. We sufferers know that MH “care” does more than act on the brain. It’s so much more than drugging. It destroys a person’s soul. I wrote a blog entry today describing the entire turnaround that happened to me as a result of “day treatment.” I went through an entire conversion from successful student to chronic patient well before I took even one psych pill. Diagnosis, isolation, ghettoizing, social rejection, and of course inhumane treatment across the board, that seeps into every single area of life, is what destroys a person, and drugging, well, that’s peripheral and really distracting us from what the real problem is. I am not too keen on debating with people who desire to get off drugs but still are hellbent on the idea that they have a mental illness. I believe these diagnoses trivialize real human suffering. Belief in psych diagnosis will only result in a torturous, and most likely unsuccessful withdrawal.

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  25. Hi all, One thing no one mentioned was that only a very few psychiatrists actually use ECT. He should check out Pat Bracken, Michael Corry, Jock McLaren, Bob Johnson, psychiatrists all who expose the scam that it is. We are facing another crisis here in Australia, our latest state Mental Health Act (Queensland) is trying to make it ok for kids , of any age, deemed competent, to consent to ECT without parental involvement. Just a psychiatrist then a trip to a tribunal for the rubber stamp and away we go. Here in Victoria we had 47 under 14s in the latest stats (very hard to come by, 2009, I think) in our total population of about 4 1/2 million; Texas had none under 18 2013-14, pop 29 million; UK, none under 16, pop 60 million (2008); Australia 205 under 14, 55 under 5 2007-8, pop 23 million. It must be about power, though in our now unregulated private psych system, God alone knows what is going on. Somebody also got rid of criminal penalties for illegal ECT & psychosurgery,(they’re trying to call it `neurosurgery), leaving only civil action available. The rest of medicine still has criminal penalties as far as I know. Perhaps the AMA should know about that and ask a few questions? These are the sort of things that we can bring up, all the time, again and again. Why are you protected? How did that happen? Who changed the legislation? How come the ECT machines are not tested? What about the new Indian machine makers? Are these to be allowed into use without testing? IF not then why are the American ones allowed in? What about the admission that Charles Kellner made in January 2015, that `we have to rethink that ECT doesn’t cause brain `changes’ because of…scans and the Perrin study (2012) – he’s a big wheel ECT advocate – we have to throw out the questions. Of course we’ll be battling the new pseudoscience that ECT cuts `connections’ because that’s necessary because depressives have `too many’! Yup, that’s the new stuff. BUT it was new in 1938, too! We have to stop this one before it becomes folklore like the `chemical imbalance’ did, and the `regulating of `pathways in the brain’ garbage that hung around for years even though it was totally ridiculous. Oh, and there was a placebo study in 2008 where seriously `ill’ patients demonstrated a `robust response to `sham’ ECT’.
    We could push info at medical students who are apparently already showing signs of squeamishness, (we have an extraordinary proliferation of Indian psychiatrists here who all appear to do ECT, a worry), and point out the possibility of very serious litigation with the evidence from MRI scans, to waverers. Of course the new `research’ could well be funded by Insurance companies and it might be a good idea to look in that area to try and track money for `too many connections’ type research. I’d like to hand out Peter Breggin’s little brochure to patients and relatives at the various clinics but I also want to start up an advocacy service for private psych patients who have no representatives at the moment. It will be a long haul, because they have money and power but I think social media is a way to go and I’m going to use that to shame and blame wherever I can. Hopefully we can make the people aware and the psychiatristst afraid.

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  26. Sadly, the medical training IS narrow. When I was at university a very long time ago, I and my group of friends spent time, probably far too much time in some ways, discussing the world, how it worked, how we fitted into it. We were coming into adulthood, when great changes were happening in and around us and long afternoons in the `caf’ or down at the local bar (when anyone had any money) were the places we worked through it all all. We were arts, economics, law students mostly, with a few med students on the fringes, and where were they most of the time? In the library, in med books, not literature, history, philosophy, just technical books about the human body. They had to be, there was too much to learn and they didn’t have time to THINK! I’ve known many medical graduates over my life and I’ve can only think of about 2 who were well rounded people. And these are the people we are taught to turn to when we have emotional difficulties. People who have never been a part of the real world in a meaningful sense, who are respected way beyond their competence, and who so often believe their own bulls***. No wonder they are threatened by the `mentally ill’. Too many are so often only a step away themselves. One of the ways to deal with this type of vulnerability is to deny and project it. Good old terms for an excuse to throw your weight around, claim the `them and us’ position; from a pompous rejection of the humanity of the `sick’ person to the abuse of the `sick’ person because `they need it’. I have postulated whether psychiatry, with its long and brutal history, brutalises those who take it up, or just attracts a certain type of person. I was wrong about the brutalising effect, you cannot brutalise someone who won’t be brutalised, even the old experiment with the electric shocks and actors showed that there are people who will not be brutalised. Unfortunately then, the other is the case. We see it in the nurses as well. The lower the rank the more likely the abuse. A captive population is very attractive to some. Three things are needed in the profession, insight, empathy and humility. I haven’t seen much of that in the years I worked as a psych nurse or the years I spent being savaged by them and psychiatrists as a patient. Has anyone?

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    • I went to one who was known to be an alcoholic. Yes, you could smell it on him. He was excused from all his bad behavior, including smoking around oxygen tanks, by nurses who bowed down to him and called him “doctor.” Then, when I thought I’d seen it all, I sat there across from him as his “patient,” and I saw him grimace. Yep, I thought it was my imagination. Then, again and again. His mouth jerking off to the side. I thought he was having seizures but was too scared to alert the nurse. I kept seeing him do that. His hands jerked sometimes, too. Of course, now, I know what it was. Tardive Dyskinesia. So I suppose the rumors were true that he took the medicines he prescribed to his patients. He retired rich. No one said a word. That was maybe January 1986.

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  27. in the run up to the ECT protest, on the 13th May, I wrote to my local psychiatric hospital asking some questions. They said they would get back to me in due course. Today I wrote asking when they would get back to me. If they do not give adaquate reply or if the reply is inadaquate I will take further action such as a more confrontational protest.

    Here are the questions:

    In the document CCR013 ECT


    Q Does ECT really work

    the following is stated, “There have been several studies comparing ECT with “sham” ECT…….In these studies , those patients who had standard ECT were more likely to recover and did so much quicker than those who had “Sham” treatment. Also those who didn’t have adaquate fits did less well than those who did.”

    The Read and Bentall 2009 – revised 2010 literature review on ECT research found that the studies comparing ECT and Sham ECT did not support this view .

    Here is a link to the study,


    I therefore ask on what studies are the statements in CCR013 ECT based on and how they have been interpreted by the relevant staff?


    In the document CCR013 ECT

    section 2 THE PROS AND CONS OF ECT

    Q What are the side effect of ECT?

    A variety of potential deleterious effects are listed including serious loss of memory and skills. This section acknoledges that different levels of damage are found in different studies and that this level seems to be dependant on who is invetigating the damage.

    Medical treatments need to take into account the risks and benefits when deciding if they are justified and in what situations. The more dangerous the condition the larger the risk to the patient of the treatment is thought to be acceptable as being justified providing the treatment is effective and less risky alternatives are not available.

    A big risk with major depression is suicide.

    Read and Bentall found no reduction in the suicide risk from ECT. This is detailed in the section DOES ECT PREVENT SUICIDE starting on page 339.

    As there is a significant risk of serious and permanant harms from ECT, which the document CCR013 ECT acknowledges, how does the team reconcile using it when Read and Bentall can find little or no evidence of reduced suicide risk?


    In the document CCR013 ECT
    section 2 THE PROS AND CONS OF ECT

    How Does ECT Work?

    States, “Those who support ECT say that in very sever depression certain parts of the brain are not working normally because of changes in the brain chemicals that allow nerves to “talk” to each other. ECT alters the way these chemicals are acting in the brain and so help recovery.”

    Which studies are these? Does the ECT team at Propect Park have any opinion on the validity of these studies?

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  28. Christopher, that’s so awesome. I can add that I’ve been suicidal three times in my life. Considering my history in their System spanned over three decades, that’s not that many times. The first could be attributed to either Imipramine or to complete incompetence on the part of my treators. To me, the absolute most painful emotion we ever experience in our relationships is not grief or loss, but betrayal. I was betrayed by my shrink, who had been lying to me for a year. The shock of realization came fast and I was a young person then. The third time was definitely from Imipramine, which I took for a few months from 2011 till early 2012. However, the second time was a RESULT of ECT. And also betrayal, since I was being lied to about how much the ECT contributed to my decrepit state. I didn’t understand what had happened nor why I was suddenly different. It was so prolonged, over a year and a half, that I had no clue if I would ever return to my usual self. Clearly, they would rather lock me up in State to keep me quiet than admit fault.

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    • I’m always glad to hear stories of other ECT survivors, not because of their suffering, but to know that we’re not alone and have experienced the same truths. Thanks for sharing your story, Julie. Wish this “MT” would stop hiding behind their initials and making generalizations ECT that we know are often false.

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  29. And Moses said, “Let my people go.” I think that one worked, quite some time ago. We need to drum up some rather creative ten plagues. The truth alone will part the waters.

    Later, the Afikoman. Only to be honest, I can’t recall what on earth was done with it once it got found. Every single time, our grandpa hid it inside the piano, but we never remembered from one year to the next. By then, most of us kids had run off or fallen asleep. Next year, in Jerusalem.

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  30. I got an idea. I have filed numerous abuse reports and as you folks all know, these reports go nowhere. My idea is that we all file reports all at once. This would be all done in one day, all over the world wherever possible. This can be timeless. We are still affected by what happened, even decades later. So what if every state and every country, all on one day, got thousands of reports. Some of us who were subject to multiple abuses could file as many reports as necessary to cover all that happened. And many of us would have to prepare ahead since it’s a lot of writing! We can together write of trauma, and also those measurable damages that allow for lawsuits. The state offices would be so overwhelmed with reports that certainly there would be some reaction. And remember, there’s safety in numbers. What if I or someone put up an article in MIA suggesting this protest, setting a date somewhat in advance so folks would know? We could have Facebook pages for each state and country. Imagine just the red tape alone overwhelming these offices? If anyone wants writing feedback I am more than willing to help out with that. These will be legal documents but we can still write passionately about our experiences. Honestly telling a story will be very powerful. I think also doing this might be rather satisfying and provide release for many of us on a personal level. On the same day, we can put up You-Tubes too, and speak out on other social media. We need to be unified and support one another on this. What do people think?

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  31. Regarding Julie Greene’s suggestion that we all try to file complaints about the way we were treated by the mental illness system on the same day, if it could be done, it would be a good thing. But with just a few dozen cities saying they were going to do protests of shock on the same day, it was incredibly hard to coordinate, and this action that Julie suggests would be even harder.

    Just the same if anything even near to this could be done, I agree it would have a big effect. Getting it to happen though would be extremely difficult.

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  32. Thanks for responding, Ted. I am thinking that many people aren’t as in love with the writing process as I am. To make things easier for the less prolific, we can have forms for people to fill out that would easily be transferable to complaint forms. And we can present this as something that will hopefully bring gratification. What if we demanded a formal apology, that is, if every single complaint ended with that request? A real apology, not “We are sorry you didn’t like it,” but to say something like, “We NOW realize the deep harms we caused. We deeply and sincerely apologize and will work to end future harms to patients.” So not only an apology, but restorative justice. If we can get five shrinks, either abusive therapists or other practitioners that use force or psych dx or other abuses, to turn their lives around and following “First do no harm,” instead, imagine the impact it would have on MH “care”! It’s a very tiny percentage of the thousands we’d send in, but we gotta make a dent in this thing. This would help patients make up their minds, too. so many are stuck in the “help” trap.

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  33. Hi Someone else, I can’t get to the link right now, but would love to check it out. I’m not sure why MIA links are redirecting but I have let the site owners know. I do know there are hackers out there who can easily do such a thing, I suppose, hired by those we are vehemently opposed to.

    I agree that for the most part, our complaints are deliberately ignored. One person can easily be called delusional, or told “You were an exception.” We need to encourage others to speak out. You can heal so many “illnesses” by asserting yourself by refusing to be silent. Speaking out en masse has the advantage of credibility. For instance, if a facility regularly breaks a certain human rights law, and only one patient speaks out, then it’ assumed the other patients don’t mind being treated like crap. A silent majority is assumed to be a satisfied one. The authorities regularly make this claim knowing the logic is faulty. The silent majority is scared. To act together is safer and less scary for those who have been silent. Actually, gang violence works the same way. People wouldn’t ordinarily beat on someone, but to beat on a person as a group allows for the protection of the crowd. Right or wrong, the group members can cover each other’s asses. A person may or may not walk in the street carrying a sign regarding gay pride, yet once a year Gay Pride Day is a safety in numbers day for folks of all sexualities to be quite deliberately visible. This is how I see it.

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  34. Hi Ted and all,
    This is something I’ve had in the pipeline since last year. We have to get the medical profession to recognised that ECT causes a permanent Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). To do this I had a neuropsychology test (cost a fortune) and an MRI. I then took the results of these to a specialist neurologist. I did not tell him where the injuries came from until AFTER he agreed that I have a clear cut frontal lobe brain injury and that, yes, I could benefit from neurological rehabilitation. THEN I told him where I got the injury. He did not take back his opinion, but needed some enlightenment on what actually happens in current day ECT. He was surprised at the 450 volts for 8 seconds but managed to keep his face fairly straight. `That’s a lot’ was the comment. So, where from here?

    This is a real breakthrough in many ways. I didn’t it do it just to validate me but to open a door. I will be getting rehab at the government’s expense for an injury that is denied by the psychiatric profession. The outcome will be twofold.
    1) I intend to spread the word around that rehab is available to everyone who has an acquired brain injury from ECT so that many who are struggling in their everyday lives will apply for that service. (I had one candidate within 14 hours). You can imagine how questions might be asked when 50 people apply to use a government funded service because of an iatrogenic injury. It could lead to a flood. Then, since there simply aren’t enough places for all these people, politicians/journalists might ask why aren’t there? And psychiatrists might be asked to please explain, after you’ve been saying for 40 years (out of 80) that it doesn’t cause a problem? And the medical insurance companies might say, if you’re going to risk this with your patients we’ll have to charge you higher premiums. And since people have found out what can happen to them, they won’t do it. All this is going to let the public know exactly what is going on and they may say `stop it!’ All up, it won’t be worth continuing it.
    2) With so many people diagnosed with an acquired brain injury as a result of a medical procedure that is known, or should have been known because there is plenty of evidence out there (ignorance is not necessarily an excuse), class actions are bound to be an option. Who to sue? Individual doctors, their teachers, who should have known, the various professional bodies who clearly hid the truth behind a barrier of PR/spin, the machine manufacturers who are well aware (see FDA-2011) of the potential damage their product causes and have NEVER done a safety test, the government bodies bound to protect citizens from dangerous medical products (FDA, (TGA here) and never required safety tests to be done, etc.
    There are several recent scientific studies that support the patient though they didn’t mean to…1) Sackheim 2007 – cognitive damage from ALL types after 6 months; 2) Perrin 2012 – MRI before and after recorded damage in ALL subjects after ECT; 3) Charles Kellner, 2015 – an ECT protagonist admitted in an article for the Psychiatric Times, that `we have to rethink our stand that ECT causes no structural damage’…because the MRI scans show it! He tries to make out that this might be a good thing because maybe depressed people have too many connections so destroying a few is a good idea! See 1938 for confirmation of THIS little idea; lobotomy was for this too; 4) An Irish hospital team Lacey et al 2007- suggested neuro rehab for all ECT patients to help them cope in their everyday lives after the damage done by ECT! And they would tell them this was available BEFORE they did it! LOVE THIS! Plus the usual, Read & Bentall (2010 placebo review) Breggin, Johnstone, Friedberg, Andre, Burstow& testimonies by the 1000s.
    I think a large number of people putting pressure on the system from iatrogenic injury might push this into the public realm. With present day MRI scans this IS POSSIBLE. The damage DOES show up! I have a large number of patches of cell death (like Hartelius’ cats) but because of my age (73) they don’t look like much, however even in me the frontal lobe atrophy is greater than would be expected. How much MORE obvious in younger people. I think we have to go for this.
    And never mind the attempts to justify it – like `depressed people have too many connections’ like lobotomy is a good idea too? The facts are that people have BRAIN DAMAGE, we can SEE it and they were NOT TOLD it could happen. GOTCHA! I think. The only problem is that MRIs and Neuropsych tests are expensive, but maybe we can hold fundraisers to help get these for people, themselves good publicity. It is always good to get public sympathy and `mental patients’ don’t get much chance at that, but a `brain injured’ person is well in.

    I think that to go the whole way with this we have to get the neurologists onside. In the end I think it must be the medical profession itself that will have to strike the final blow. The rampant corruption throughout but especially in psychiatry has to be addressed and they know it.

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  35. Someone here posted that he had gotten his former providers to pay for treatment to treat the damages done by ECT. Can I ask how this was done? I have such bad insomnia that has been now verified as directly the result of trauma from abuse in the hospital four years ago. I changed after that and have been unpleasant to be around and snap at people due to contstant fatigue. i always knew this was the case but my shrink insisted I had “mania.” I want my former provider to pay for whatever I need to help the constant “fight or flight” reaction I now have that is now prevemting me from working and leading a productive life. the insomnia has been plaguing me consistently. If I can get a cost estimate, I might even be able to find a go-between person who can contact them. But I am wondering how to mediate and if the courts need to be involved in such an agreement. I want them to pay out of pocket and I want a formal apology and also a vow never to abuse again. I want to see sognificant moral change in these people in a way that affects society as a whole. They might call it “community service,” but I see it as “changing their ways” in some radical way. Going out and helping poor people, I mean, really, not just donating money, but since they’re shrinks, who are supposedly compassionate, sitting out in the cold and helping them and listening to them like they were supposed to do with me but failed to do, clearly. I don’t recall who here did that in regards to their ECT but it sounded original and quite effective. I hope you are subscribed to this thread.

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