Electroshocking Veterans and Their Fetuses

I have long been concerned with the way society responds to people who come back from war. Veterans are routinely funneled into psychiatry’s grasp.[1] Over the decades, some people who fought in wars have shared with me their experiences of being psychiatrized upon return from war. Sometimes these experiences included veterans being stripped of their second amendment rights, and a host of other constitutional, civil, and human rights violations as they began to be forced into complying with psychiatric regimens, and on several occasions this included veterans being subjected to electroshock.[2]

When I would tell those in various forms of power what veterans had shared with me, the information of people’s lived experiences—people’s stories—simply dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ and therefore justified these accounts, in the master’s mind, as non-actionable intelligence that was of no consequence in a policy arena.

Underscored here, the whole psychiatrization of the experiences of active members of the military and of veterans is part of the problem. The work of people like Paula Joan Caplan[3] to discredit psychiatry and create opportunities for Veterans and people who work in the military to be listened to is essential.

However, if each individual’s story of forced psychiatric involvement and electroshock are considered “just” anecdotal by those in power, what would evidence of the routine practice of those encountering psychiatry through the Veterans Administration being electroshocked be? To see if I could answer this question, during the spring of 2015 I began a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exchanges with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration.[4]  Perhaps you will accept what I found through these FOIA decisions as evidence of the use of electroshock on Veterans, and those receiving services through VAMCs in the US.

The FOIA Requests Produced Multiple Documents

One report was from Fiscal Year 2009 in the form of a 16-page “National and Regional Resource Report” in the “draft/pre-decisional” stage. The draft report described “programs not mandated by the Uniform Services Handbook” (p. 1), and included as “idiosyncratic mental health programs” in the draft/pre-decisional report were several types of programs – including programs for “Specialized Women’s PTSD Care”, “Military Sexual Trauma Programs”, and “ECT Services.” This entry addresses “ECT Services.”[5]

Here is What We Know

In the draft/pre-decisional report under the heading “ECT Use in the Veterans Health Administration” (p. 4), there is clear and convincing evidence of widespread use of electroshock throughout the VA system.

  1. At least 5,009 electroshocks (electroconvulsive treatments) were used on at least 743 individuals through the VAMC network in 2009.
  2. The report only addressed electroshock that was delivered to someone two or more times.
  3. We have no information on how many times people were subjected to electroshock once.
  4. In 2008 there were at least 75 locations in the VAMC network across the United States that delivered electroshock.
  5. The report only addresses electroshock delivered through the VAMC network.
  6. The report confirms it does not include electroshock done in private or non-contracting VA institutions.
  7. In 2009, the VAMCs with the highest numbers of people electroshocked (30 or more people) were San Juan, Omaha, North Chicago, Kansas City, and San Antonio.
  8. Only 15 of the 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) across the country responded to the request that the report I was given addressed.
  9. We can be sure that with any additional information, any amount of electroshock being conducted on those receiving services through a Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC) reported would only increase the amount of people who were subjected to electroshock.
  10. Because of the lack of current information and perhaps misinformation, we have no idea of how many people have been or are currently are being electroshocked.

In addition to this information, multiple consent forms were sent to me, including a consent form for “maintenance” electroshock. I can say as a general statement that none of the consent forms sent adequately inform a reader of the known hazards of electroshock. A full analysis of these consent forms, compared with FDA guidelines, other known facts about electroshock, and informed consent process requirements in general, is underway.

The VHA Handbook 1160.01 (September 11, 2008) I received includes a campaign for the use of electroshock on veterans: a mandate for access to electroshock within every VISN; a mandate that electroshock be provided when a person is thought to meet the guidelines (discussed below); and a mandate for “maintenance” electroshock (pp. 31 – 32). The process for informed consent for electroshock is specified in Appendix A: “Treatments and Procedures Requiring Signature Consent” (pp. A1 – A2) and specifies, prior to “#9 Electroconvulsive therapy” (p. A2), this note:

“NOTE: It is not necessary to obtain a separate signature consent for sedation, anesthesia, or blood product transfusion if the combined consent form for the procedure already contains consent for sedation, anesthesia, or blood product transfusion . . .” (p. A2).

Waiving requirements for consent is a problematic in itself.

The VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Major Depressive Disorder Version 2.0 (2008) makes it clear that “somatic treatment strategies” (p. 59) such as “electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)” – electroshock – should only be utilized with “specific training and expertise in the management of treatment-resistant depression and the use of these devices” (p. 59). Nonetheless, in official recommendations the VA/DOD illustrated support of electroshock:

“a. Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a recommended treatment strategy for patients who have failed multiple other treatment strategies” (p. 59).

“b. Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) may be a first line treatment for pregnant women, patients with psychotic depression, catatonic patients, or patients who have severe self-neglect issues.” (p. 59)

Yes. You read that correctly; “pregnant women.” And subsequently, the VA/DoD is supporting electroshock (and anesthesia, and a host of drugs) for fetuses.[6]  The VA/DoD also instructs that:

“8. Patients who do not achieve remission after adequate trials of three different antidepressants should either receive augmentation with either medications or psychotherapy or receive combination antidepressant treatment or electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).” (p. 80)

In fact, electroshock as a modality to rid people of “major depressive disorder” is prominent in the guidelines and listed as the first ‘option’ under the title “Somatic Treatment Interventions” (pp. 130 – 132).[7]  The “background” of electroshock offered by the VA/DOD is:

“Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has advanced in terms of its importance in treating severe MDD, especially in its psychotic and treatment-resistant forms. Refinements in anesthetic, physiologic monitoring, stimulus control, and neuromuscular blockade techniques are largely responsible for the advances and have contributed to ECT’s improved safety profile.” (p. 130)

This is fraud.

Whitaker and Cosgrove[8] (2015) point to the ways psychiatry dupes the general population when psychiatry is consented to “without genuine informed consent” (2015:158). This is something I have discussed[9] and know is relevant to electroshock. Certainly, full informed consent and informed choice is most relevant to someone who receives a prescription for a course of brain-damaging electroshock, which under some circumstances is seen as torture.[10] It is important that people have comprehensive and honest information about electroshock. Such authentic consent processes are not generally available. There is a pamphlet which I suggest people read called “Entering the Grey Zone”[11] to increase your knowledge about this brain-damaging procedure.

What these FOIA decisions show is that a) there was a 2008[12] dictate supporting the use of electroshock throughout the VA system and b) in 2009 there is evidence of nationwide usage of electroshock at VAMCs throughout the entire country.

One last thing: this is not a problem of 2008/2009 this is a problem of 2015 and beyond if some concrete actions to abolish the use of electroshock by VAMCs are not taken.

A document of the VA Western New York Health Care System Center, titled Memorandum 116A-9 (February 24, 2015) is evidence that, at minimum, in New York State the pro-shock campaign persists in 2015.

The purpose of Memorandum 116A-9 is “to establish guidelines and procedures for all staff in the application of electroconvulsive therapy at this Medical Center” (p. 1). The policy of the VA Western New York Healthcare System is that “ECT is an important therapeutic modality when utilized appropriately, and shall be the treatment of choice for certain clinical entities” (p. 1). The responsibility for carrying out ECT is “the Staff psychiatrist with designated ECT privileges” (p. 1).  Procedures, Contraindications, Consultation, Pre-treatment Evaluation, Informed Consent, Required Credentials, ECT Procedures for Inpatients, and ECT Procedures for Outpatients are all addressed.

For the purposes of understanding the breadth with which the VA Western New York Health Care System (2015) promotes ECT:

“A. Indications for Use: There is currently no diagnosis that should automatically lead to treatment with ECT. Indications are based on a combination of factors, including the patient’s diagnosis, nature and severity of symptomatology, treatment history, consideration of anticipated risks and benefits of viable treatment option, and patient preference. Conditions for which ECT may be beneficial are:

1. Major depressive disorder

2. Bipolar disorder

3. Schizophrenia

4. Schizoaffective disorder.” (p. 1)

Memorandum 116A-9 is up for review on February 1, 2018 (p. 5). The VA Western New York Health Care System also sent me information including the “Equipment Record, Work Orders completed on the device, and the PM procedure that is performed on the device every 6 months” (August 19, 2015).  These documents and forms are also under analysis.

Next Steps

Will you stand with me in holding the VA accountable for the misinformation campaign it is producing, and demand that the most recent data is made available for public scrutiny?

This current entry was to publicly document the information I have been sent by the Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration FOIA decisions.

I see this documentation as just the beginning of a more orchestrated exposure of psychiatry, and psychiatry in the military.  I have plenty of information to continue going through — and more to seek out from future FOIA requests.

We do not have current data for how many people are being electroshocked through the VA/VHA — but we know at least 743 people were shocked at 75 different VAMCs a total of 5007 times in 2009 (Office of Mental Health Services, 2010). It is essential to keep in mind that these data only reflect people who were electroshocked two or more times, and 6 VISNs did not respond at all to the original query that was being reported on by the VA.

There are untold numbers of people who were subjected to electroshock one time, who are being electroshocked right now. Burstow’s (2015) Psychiatry and the Business of Madness[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif] debunks the myth that electroshock stops suicide, and – unfortunately – sheds light on the reality of its life-ending consequences. An important question we will ask is whether electroshock is contributing to the suicide rate amongst veterans.

I am proposing here a concentrated effort to obtain accurate and current data concerning the use of electroshock and other psychiatric procedures and products delivered through the VA/VHA/VAMCs.

If you would like to be involved with this unfunded effort as an advisor, or to assist with conducting a literature review and designing a study, or being a study coordinator and implementing what research design we may come to — if given an Institutional Review Board’s approval to conduct the study — please contact me.

Please leave comments and make suggestions for analysis and other information I ought to put in follow-up FOIA requests to the Veterans Health Administration, such as whether electroshock is still supported as a “first-line treatment for pregnant women” by the VA/DoD (2008, p. 59).

It is important to remember that it is not just that we are still in search of comprehensive data on the use of electroshock in the VA system. This issue of not having full and accurate data on electroshock is not specific to the VA.  It is consistent with the horrendous reality that in the US, we do not have accurate numbers of how many fetuses, children, adults, and seniors are subject to electroshock. Yes, fetuses, I will remind you, because electroshock is supported as a “first line treatment for pregnant women” (VA/DOD, 2008. p. 59)

Please encourage people who are involved with the military, or who are concerned about the ways psychiatry conducts itself within the military, to speak out — and seek out — supportive alternatives to psychiatry. Please be prepared to listen when people start talking.

Electroshock has infiltrated the front lines. People who receive services through VAMCs are — at untold rates — subject to electroshock with a fraudulent consent process in the name of ‘help.’  We all ought to be concerned about the relationship between psychiatry and the military.

* * * * *


VA Western New York Health Care System (February 24, 2015). Center Memorandum

No. 116A-9. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). FOIA Request: VHA-15-06889-F

Office of Mental Health Services (May 28, 2010). National and Regional Resource

Report. Draft/Pre-decisional. FOIA Request: VHA-15-04065-F

The Management of MDD Working Group. (2008). VA/DoD Clinical Practice

Guidelines for Management of Major Depressive Disorder. Version 2. 0. FOIA Request 15-06677-F

* * * * *


[1] It would be foolish for society to continue to ignore Erving Goffman’s (1961) Asylums.

[2] Despite the fact that many ‘doctors’ promote electroshock, electroshock (electroconvulsive treatment, ECT), is a brain-damaging procedure where varying volts of electrical current is shot into your brain to cause a grand mal seizure. As classified by the FDA, electroshock devices remain Class III experimental devices. Any supposed ‘informed consent’ which has been given for the procedure is consent via fraud, and therefore, worse than forced (discussed elsewhere).

[3] http://www.paulajcaplan.net/

[4] As a note, the Information Officers were always incredibly responsive, respectful, and helpful.

[5] A future entry will address “Military Sexual Trauma Programs” and “Specialized Women’s PTSD Care”.

[6] Please know that a follow up blog entry, “Electroshocking Fetuses” is forthcoming.

[7] followed by the ‘option’ of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (pp. 132 – 133). The larger manual ought to be dissected because it is full of potential hazards.

[8] Whitaker, R. and Cosgrove, L. (2015). Psychiatry Under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and P{rescriptions for Reform. Palgrave Macmillan.

[9] http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/06/with-a-public-defrauded-illegitimacy-of-forced-psychiatry-crystalizes/

[10] Please see Tina Minkowitz’s blog http://www.madinamerica.com/author/tminkowitz/

[11] http://endofshock.com/ECTPamphlet.pdf This group was spearheaded by Loretta Wilson and others including John Breeding, Don Weitz, Dorothy Dundas and Evelyn Scogin.

[12] http://www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1762

[13] Burstow, B. (2015). Psychiatry and the business of madness: An ethical and epistemological accounting. Palgrave Macmillan.


  1. Lauren, Thanks for this terrific expose. I especially want to thank you for validating that “anecdotal evidence” is more than important, it’s essential. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in writing school was the difference, in memoir, between truth and accuracy. The truth comes out in every story even if memory has not quite recorded every detail perfectly. It’s a given that human memory is flawed. To write the truth is essential, though. Audiences are well aware that we are wonderfully flawed.

    That said, can any statistical evidence truly tell the public what it FEELS like to have one’s memories erased, or to live each day so confused one cannot function? The naive public will continue to dismiss suicides that occur following ECT, stating, “He was depressed anyway. It was bound to happen after he got back. even though they tried to save him.” On the other hand, if those of us who have survived the ECT ordeal speak out, and find venues where we are allowed to do so, describing what happened and how it affected us, then perhaps we can shake some sense into those swayed by the media.

    Not everyone reads. We need to speak out in other ways, too, not only in narrative, but in poetry, art, dance, music, teaching, social media, film, or any medium of our choice.

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    • Thanks, Julie Greene!

      And yes — what it feels like to have one’s memory wiped out from electroshock (although I was not subjected to electroshock myself).

      At the FDA hearings in 2011 I was really horrified by the Medical and Neurological Device Panel discussion over whether the known memory loss caused by electroshock was really a risk or a problem. I remember Loretta Wilson talking about what it was like having parts her memory wiped out. I do not know how a medical person can justify memory loss as anything other than having profound ramifications on the lives of a living being. Here’s the video that came out of those hearings.

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  2. Wow, it’s hard to find the real people among all these mythical beasts like “schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression”, etc and the tools used to control them when they “have” these “illnesses” which are no more valid than dragons, griffins, and unicorns. What will it take to get these ignorant psychiatrists to see that psychoses (“schizophrenia, bipolar”), states of splitting (“personality disorders”), and states of severe chronic feelings of depression are not separable “illnesses” but rather developmental-relational-social issues that anyone can have under sufficient stress? How much money will it take…

    My father’s memory was destroyed by repeated ECT “treatments” about 15 years ago, so I have a special hatred for this form of abuse. Luckily, when I was offered this supposed treatment many years ago by a psychiatrist, I knew enough to refuse. Many people are not properly informed about the risks, like my father.

    In reading these articles, it is shameful for me to see as an American citizen that so much harmful and damaging to people’s emotional wellbeing has been developed in the USA and is now being propagated to the developed world. ECT and psychiatric drugs may not have all been developed here, but the promotion and continued development of these mostly useless and harmful practices occurs largely here in the USA: a country with 5% of the world’s population, which takes over 50% of the world’s psychiatric drugs, yet has worse mental health outcomes than many poor countries! It’s hard to be proud of being a citizen of a country where most people are so ignorant and where elites and professionals continue to naively and ignorantly cause so much harm.

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    • Thanks bpdtransformation — it is criminal.

      Informed consent in the situation of “voluntary” use of electroshock is as much of a sham as “sham ECT” itself. Sham ECT, if you don’t know is a type of research study on the use of electroshock where one is told they are given electroshock but are not actually given electroshock.

      I am trying to go through the consent forms and other materials that were sent.

      Concerning electroshock while pregnant and the VA/DoD’s support for electroshock as a first-line treatment for women who are pregnant, there seems to be no special “risks” associated with it, in the consent forms I have obtained.

      We really need to hold the VA — and as you point out — all of psychiatry — responsible and end the fraud.

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      • Jon Ronnquist says, `I think the fact that anyone… [who] can make the leap from “triggering an epileptic seizure by electrocution of the brain” to “which helps relieve depression” without stopping to ask some seriously detailed questions, pretty much sums up the monopoly modern psychiatry has over not only the field of mental health, but the critical eye and credulity of otherwise intelligent people the world over.’
        My answer is, I no longer have faith that there are many intelligent people around. In the recent/current Garth Daniels ECT debacle (Melbourne, Australia) the doctor stated that the reason Daniels was given ECT against his will was because he was rendered incompetent by ECT. When I was at school there was a subject called `clear thinking”, is that on the curriculum any more, anywhere? I have collated a list of Logic Lapses in psychiatry – I’m up to 103 and I stopped, disgusted, a year ago.
        The devious attempt to bypass the testing requirements for medical devices in class III illustrates that psychiatrists KNOW the consequences of ECT, and KNOW that if tested as other devices are, it will clearly show the damage it causes and will be banned. Perhaps we should be writing to all the other manufacturers who are being forced to test and re-test their products at great expense, how the psychiatrists get away with it? Can someone find out who they are? Is there a list somewhere?

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  3. Well, I am confused. I mean, “Ned” Shorter and David Healy’s history of shock suggests it is the “penicillin of psychiatry”.
    Has no one here read shock doc claims about claims of formerly “stuperous” patients cheerfully doing crossword puzzles after this fabulous “treatment”? It is a MIRACLE!! (No mention if they had lost five years of memories or could recall if they had children or had lost skill sets to do their jobs – doctors and nurses apparently aren’t as quick to “see” this as they are the giddy euphoria (of brain injury) and the cheerful crossword fill-ins…)
    Shouldn’t these pregnant vets be provided with an equal opportunity to do crossword puzzles and be plagued with permanent amnesia, permanent cognitive disability, and permanent brain injury?

    So, these poor pregnant women often struggling with PTSD or various emotionally distressing states need to be further traumatized by being assaulted with brain damaging electrocution and its destruction of their identities, intellects, and memories? Brilliant.

    How long can closed head injury concussions (Ect’s/TBI’s/ABI’s) be stupidly and ignorantly put forth as “medical procedures”?? They are QUACK “treatments” far worse than insulin comas and ice baths. They are freaking electrical lobotomies.
    Want to ask an a EXPERT about ECT? Not Max Fink or Ned or Sackheim or any other proponent of ECT. Ask
    Mary Maddock or Linda Andre or Julie Green or Jonathan Cott, or Brenda Schwartzkopf or Wendy Funk or any of the the other EXPERTS who have had this “treatment” about what ECT is and does.
    Is there any “value” in interviewing the old or current “practitioners” of ECT? Nope. They are, I believe, living a delusional lie bolstered by cognitive dissonance.
    So, multiple head injuries in sports figures who go on to develop depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, dementia, CTE, are now being viewed as dangerous, but giving grandma or that poor pregnant woman 6-12 repeated head injuries (ECT) with their lovely grand mal seizures is a “healing” and “therapeutic” “treatment??
    What will it take to eliminate this human rights abuse??

    “Many people are not properly informed of the risks, like my father.”
    Many? Make that “most” or “almost all”. Until the consent form lists the following in giant capital letters, nothing is informed:
    THIS is a PROCEDURE that has NEVER been proven to be safe or effective or better than SHAM ECT. It can INJURE your BRAIN, permanently. Because it is completely unpredictable as to outcomes, you could permanently lose YEARS of your memory, be unable to form or make new memories, lose your skill sets/career, suffer trauma, develop epilepsy, be unable to think, read, recall, be “stupider” than you were before, suffer a change in personality, and traumatized by these deficits, end up suicidal. The injuries to your frontal lobes may destroy your ability to be creative and feel emotions deeply. You will never be the same.

    WHY is this LUNATIC procedure, developed in Facist Italy, embraced by Nazi psychiatrists, STILL being “administered” given all the latest research (and the old research!) as to its destructive nature. Should “doctors” be brain damaging their patients and calling it treatment? That is insanity.

    bpd: “My father’s memory…
    so I have a special hatred for this form of abuse.” Exactly. ABUSE. Not “treatment”.

    It is time to “occupy” ECT “suites”, to chain ourselves to the machines, to be arrested, to protest every day, not internationally for one day the media ignores. Time to hand out pamphlets in every psychiatrist’s office, to buy ads on TV and place them online and in papers, to protect our children, mothers, loved ones from these unconscionable assaults.
    And I say this as the propaganda is churned out and “new and improved ECT” is being hyped and the market sucks in autistic children, seniors with dementia, and anyone else who can be targeted and victimized.

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  4. How wonderful of Lauren Tenney to recognize that this story needed to be told and then to do all of the digging, FOIA request filings, and analysis of the information obtained! She so often is way ahead of the pack at spotting dangers and reporting them with penetrating analysis.

    And I love the comments posted above!

    I have to say that twice, people I respect tremendously have told me that electroshock was helpful to a close family member when nothing else had helped. My reactions to those reports are (1) I am first and foremost glad that they felt better, (2) I hope that they were fully informed ahead of time about the real and devastating kinds of harm that so often result from electroshock (but I know that it is highly unlikely that they were), (3) if it was in fact the electroshock that helped them, rather than something else, that of course does not disprove the harm that electroshock has been shown to cause in so many people, and I have heard far more first-person stories from people I greatly respect about its devastating consequences.

    With regard to footnote 3 of the article, if people are interested in the work I’ve done and am doing with veterans, better websites than the one given there are listen2veterans.org and whenjohnnyandjanecomemarching.weebly.com

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    • Thank you Paula! And thank you for sharing these links:

      http://www.listen2veterans.org and http://www.whenjohnnyandjanecomemarching.weebly.com

      I think that your responses to people who have said electroshock was helpful to someone they know or themselves is really helpful – and I will keep it in mind if I have the rare occasion of someone saying something positive about electroshock. When I have had exchanges with people who have shared those sentiments, I usually mention the fraudulent-DSM caveat for a label of “mania” – for the assignor to be sure the person had not been electroshocked because it can create a type of “mania” that quickly subsides. . . . I also ask how they feel about electroshock being done on someone without informed consent and choice, via coercion or outright force or court-order, these people are consistently alarmed that it could be given to someone over their objection or without full informed consent.


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  5. thank you so much, lauren for writing this great article! when you say: – “people’s stories—simply dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ and therefore justified these accounts, in the master’s mind, as non-actionable intelligence that was of no consequence in a policy arena” – you touch the heart of the problem with all “evidence” in psychiatry. how do we change this? your presentation of the facts and your analysis are one effective way to do it. this is encouraging and much appreciated!!

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    • thanks Jasna,

      I think part of how we change it is by continued exposure.

      I think that most people do not even realize that electroshock is still used and those who are aware of it have been sold a false bill of goods . . .

      I think whenever and wherever we can, to speak out and shine light on all of the fraudulent practices, procedures, and products peddled by psychiatry with the power of the state through policy, regulations, and laws. . . it is a monster.

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  6. Lauren, the first time I had ECT they gave me four “treatments” in 1995. The second time, which I have just documented, by the way, was 1996. This, in fact, was on my request. My inpatient doctor was a resident, who now is actually famous, Dr. Montgomery Brower. but then, he was in his second residency year. Dr. Michael Henry was the new shock doc at McLean. They took me off the cocktail of anticonvulsants immediately before the first shock they did. The plan was for Dr. Brower to witness my ECT. Well, I felt kinda special being a guinea pig I guess. I felt important, like I mattered a little bit for a change. What happened was that as usual, the clinic was delayed by about an hour. I happen to remember this since I was desperately thirsty, having had to withhold fluids since midnight, and all I could think about was that drink of water I was going to get afterward. So when I had the treatment, afterward, right when I came to, the nurse was looking at me funny. Immediately, I knew something had gone wrong. The first thing I wanted was my glasses. Then, I wanted to know what went wrong beyond, “Am I alive?” I was. But….What went wrong? She stood there shaking her head like….I’m sorry…..Like someone was dead. I was livid. I wanted to know.

    It turned out that they’d screwed up and not taken me off the anticonvulsants soon enough. So I didn’t have a seizure, they said. It took me until I wrote the passages in the book just a couple of weeks ago, nearly two decades later, to realize what had happened. I wonder now. Okay….Scenario. Yes, this is speculation:

    One shock: No seizure. Up the voltage. Second shock. No seizure. Up the voltage. Third shock. No seizure. Oops, we can’t go higher, we might lose her, then, the parents might sue. The father’s a bigwig in NAMI, you know. He’s the one who worked to close down the Met. But he’s dying of cancer, would they really? Try one more shock. No seizure. Okay, let’s quit. She’ll never know.

    Brower didn’t witness it. Apparently, because of the delay, he had some meeting, he claimed. He works in forensics now.

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    • Forensics? Good place for him, maybe he could have look at a few ECT-fried brains along the way. We had one who almost killed an 18 year old university student with furore therapeuticus. The nurses eventually refused to continue. Yes, there used to be some with morals. He was promoted. Away from patient contact, yes, but, promoted so it looked good on his CV.
      Oh, and the guy I’ve been supporting (see John Read’s MIA reports coming up) often got up to 4 shocks per session because his brain, after 40 ECTs in a row damaged brain had attempted to protect itself by raising the seizure threshhold – theoretically 12 per week. See Ewan Cameron and ask serious questions about whether these people shoul;d be practicing medicine at all.

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  7. I think it is sad that there were only 5 responses to this article. Does this mean people just do not care about this issue and the people whose lives it destroys?
    Write about Seroquel (and it really is a toxic poison …) and there will be hundreds of indignant posts and stories. But perhaps that is by virtue of the huge numbers of people devastated by the use of psychiatric drugs versus the
    “small” numbers of those permanently injured by ECT. It is something most rational people cannot believe exists.
    If there is to be TRULY informed consent, each patient should be handed Andre’s “Doctors of Deception” to read before signing a “consent” to brain damage/ECT form.
    It is upsetting to see highly esteemed psychiatrists who DO know the truth about ECT mangling people’s brains promoting it and endorsing it as a treatment, completely kicking “first do no harm” to the curb. What fuels this kind of denial and cognitive dissonance in the face of the scientific evidence and the heartbreaking stories of ECT survivors?
    Is the best that can be hoped for is that MST will replace ECT. A psychiatrist I spoke with said his colleagues are increasingly acknowledging the “problems” with cognition and memory that are ravaging recipients of ECT and are looking at MST to be an “alternative”.

    Thank-you for all your hard work, Lauren, including your Talk With Tenney episode on ECT. Disappointing one of the “experts” you invited failed to enter into the debate.
    I look forward to your next article.

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    • The APA “guidelines” allow for the use of ECT even as a “first line” treatment for severe depression, acute mania, mood disorders with psychotic features, and catatonia, I believe.
      It is suggested for victims/patients who have failed two “adequate” trials (dose adequate and 6 weeks duration) of antidepressants for severe depression. These are pathetically low standards to meet, of course, given the unreliability of a “depression” diagnosis and the fact antidepressants are no better than placebos and largely ineffective. And, they often increase agitation and iatrogenic illness used as a reason to apply ECT!
      Yes, and “other” diagnostic indications are deemed acceptable also. Autistic children, aggressive, agitated Alzheimers patients, pregnant women, people unable to tolerate drugs… Yes, ECT any time for anybody, from teenager to 96 year old… Expand that market… The money is what matters…
      Why aren’t “real” doctors, neurologists in particular, speaking out in droves to have this QUACK torture, mutilation of people’s frontal lobes, BANNED??
      Why are they not having the embarrassing “pseudo” doctors aka psychiatrists banned from doing their Frankenstein cingulotomies and ECT “experiments”?

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      • Hi Truth,
        They don’t know. My neurologist was horrified to hear the psychiatrists use Cingulotomies. But they’re for really terrible epilepsy, he said. Well, the psychiatrists will give them that too, with ECT, I said. No, no, he said, it’s a safe and effective treatment for depression, he said. And it’s not very much electricity either, he said. It’s 450 volts for 8 seconds I said. He took him a while to push that to the back of his mind. He believed that, like his own professors and teachers, psychiatric equivalents would tell the truth. The neuropsychologist also assured me that ECT `helped some people’ – I’m not sure if she still believes that but she doesn’t say it to me any more. My GP has it right though, `psychiatrists are the dregs of the profession’. We used to say in the bad old mental hospital that I worked in all those years ago, that the place was full of psychopaths and lunatics, the staff. Nothing’s changed. But still as these challenged keep on proliferating the industry is looking worse and worse, when a psychiatrist is murdered by a patient and most people ask what did the psychiatrist do to him, thequestions are mounting. It took time to overthrow the Court of France and the Romanovs but it happened. The smug, self satisfaction and belief in their own infallibility will sure be their downfall and their children and grandchildren will ask, did you do that grandfather? Did you electrocute people’s brains and call it THERAPY?’

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  8. Dear Truth: they don’t care. They’re psycopaths. It’s that simple. That’s probably why they became shrinks. They know they’re practicing fraud and it makes no difference to them. Psychiatry is organized crime. You can’t reason with criminals.

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    • I think you are right about this for a huge number of psychiatrists. Four I have met have been arrogant, insecure, hostile to criticism, defensive, and cold. They seemed like disinterested, unemotional people with an inability to listen and a condescending view of “mental” patients.
      I met one warm, genuine shrink and there are good people like Dr. Steingard (?Sandy from MIA) and Dr. Breggin, (the conscience of psychiatry and long time for of ECT) but they seem to be the exception to the rule.
      I continue to be appalled at Dr. David Healy’s defense of and promotion of ECT in light of ALL the scientific evidence of its devastation of people, their brains, and their lives. His “Poison, Shock, Mutilate” blog article is an eye opener. I particularly liked his comment that Robert Whitaker is “wrong” about ECT. Given Whitaker’s investigative chops and meticulous research skills, I find this hard to swallow. Read the posts if you have time. They are fabulous examples of cognitive dissonance, true believer syndrome, and denial as they relate to ECT.

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      • Re that David Healy blog: Interestingly, I wrote a response to his final claim and was able to refute every one of his claims item by item. It never made it to publication. Surprised? The first tenet of Pseudoscience is: `Hostility to criticism, rather than embracing criticism as a mechanism of self-correction.’ Another is invoking conspiracy arguments to avoid facing questions e.g. it’s those destructive anti-psychiatrists, the Scientologists. The `kill the messenger’ tactic. But psychiatry is doomed unless they realise that not everyone is as stupid as they’d like to think, that the `rabble’ will have power in numbers and understanding because the communication of knowledge is no longer privileged. I suggest they read Machievelli who documented just how to get power and how to lose it. `Know your enemy’, we know ours, does it know us?

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  9. Yes, don’t forget, also first line of “treatment” if your insurance is running out. For those of us who are Medicare recipients who were in private facilities, when nearing the end of our lifetime 190 days, that’s what they did. I’m surprised at how universal it seems to be. Milk the insurance while they still can, as much as they still can. Then, when they’ve battered the patient to bits, send her to State. She’s useless waste now. I gotta laugh, though, because after all that I ended up shocking *them,* snapping out of it and wildly succeeding at college. It’s even funnier that I write memoir, which relies on memory. My college professors marveled because mine is practically photographic, which I honestly cannot explain. Yes I remember lying on the table and yes I remember giving verbal “consent” for bilateral and the exact words used. I’m sure they hate me for that. Apparently I’m not alone here, having had very long-term, but mostly not permanent damage. This ECT is so dangerous since it’s highly unpredictable. Even the experts cannot predict, apparently. On the other hand, there are a few empty spaces there, in my thirties, and I wonder if I’ve lost some of my musical talent as well. I’m afraid to find out.

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    • Well, Julie, you won the lottery. But hey, maybe ECT is the REASON you are well today and have a great memory!! Anyone suggest this to you?? How many months after ECT before you could think, read, recall, and function?
      How many bilaterals were you the lucky recipient of? And WHY were they “prescribed”?? For your eating disorder??

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  10. Ugh. Electroshock. 10 years after my first (involuntary) round, nearly 8 years after the second (also involuntary) round…I’ve largely (by the grace of God) recovered.

    My parents “moved up in the world” a bit…well, enough for me to be treated with some compassion and for the “professionals” to pretend to listen to what I have to say. Before, back when they were “rinky dink middle-class” (a former counselor’s words, not mine), I was tormented and dismissed. “Not good enough for…” anything but harsh, inhumane, somatic “treatment.”

    Shock is what they do when you don’t matter, for whatever reason, and nobody cares. And when they’re done with you…well, it just gets worse. “Too smart” becomes “too dumb,” or at least “too average,” and the person/patient’s life gets that much more difficult. My case is somewhat unusual…I started out a bit “too smart,” then I was stupid, now I”m “too smart” again…but because of my parents and a good attorney, I’m mostly beyond the former shrinks’ control. The current docs more or less leave me alone.

    Shock is…terrible. Relapse rates are high, lots of problems pop up that they don’t tell potential customers/patients about…rough stuff, that EST. I do think it should be banned. Give the shrinks an inch, they’ll take a mile (as a group, not all of them individually). Better to take this one out of the tool kit.

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  11. truth, According to my mother, who was appalled at the ECT, I always had an exceptional memory. After the ECT, I couldn’t put a sentence together, I was getting lost in the streets and they decided to put me in the state hospital. All that lasted a year and a half. As I said, it’s all unpredictable, totally, they are totally clueless. They can’t aim any better than I can at baseball. I’m that kid who swung and missed. I’m that kid who was always picked last for the teams, and for good reason!

    I did, in fact, once hit a double at baseball, purely by accident. I was praised by my coach, but I admit it was by pure luck. So I did, in fact, get my good memory back. But it was good to begin with, and as I said, I am missing things. And I am not saying there weren’t immense damages. The ECT is what split up my family. The ECT got a harmful fake dx put on permanent record just to cover up the damages. Dx harmed me very badly for the next couple of decades, you bet! And the cost to taxpayers? Probably millions. Ask my nephews if they’d like to have known their aunt. That’s the cost of ECT.

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  12. I keep telling survivors that they will never penetrate the gullibility and apathy of the general public using psychiatric issues alone. Psychiatry’s grip is too strong and there’s no reason for most people to ask questions.
    But the fact is there is another issue which is almost (not quite but almost) as outrageous and far more pervasive, which is medicine’s abuse of babies and new mothers. This is the wedge that could pry open people’s minds to the notion that medicine has systemic conflicts of interest and is guilty of wholesale ethical and moral lapses which have profoundly affected society. The implications are seismic, and the legal liability will be enough to shake the medical establishment to its foundations when the proper class-action case comes along. Here are some relevant links:
    The intact movement are natural allies.

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  13. As Jon Ronnquist says, `I think the fact that anyone, journalists very much included, [who] can make the leap from “triggering an epileptic seizure by electrocution of the brain” to “which helps relieve depression” without stopping to ask some seriously detailed questions, pretty much sums up the monopoly modern psychiatry has over not only the field of mental health, but the critical eye and credulity of otherwise intelligent people the world over.’
    How, in all of history, has anyone known what helps someone without asking them? Whilst we can see spots disappear and measure fevers as they fade, how do we know when a pain has gone? Can we see or measure a pain? If we didn’t ask someone where it hurts, how would we know where to look to find something we might be able to see or measure? We can look at a blue face and hazard a guess that this person has an oxygen problem but we still have to ask if his chest hurts, or is it hard to breathe, or is he feeling especially anxious? Doctors can use `scientific’ data to diagnose an abdominal pain, i.e. go through every possiblility including scans, xrays, even exploratory surgery and eventually find that there’s a kidney stone. How much quicker to ask the patient to point to where it hurts. Anecdotal evidence is the name of the game in medicine. Why do psychiatrists think they can, in the face of the least measurable, least scientific of conditions, feel they can ignore it? ECT is a scourge, a blot on all of medicine. It is a procedure that grew out of a desire to break down the brains of undesirable people to render them `manageable’, it still does. SHAME on all of medicine for allowing it to continue.

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  14. I would like to add to these wonderful comments that I have posted my ECT narrative in my blog, which can be accessed here:


    From there, you will find a link to the sub-page containing a story called “Lest We Not Forget” which I wrote recently, and a link also to a prior ECT narrative focusing more on my late boyfriend Joe Casey’s response to my ECT “treatments,” a narrative I read aloud called “Sweet Evening Breeze.” I put this on YouTube.

    Please share these stories with as many people as you would like. My writing is my gift to the world. They are Boston-based stories, the first very much a love story, the second focuses more on my Jewish heritage and how I, as Jewish female was victimized by the System.

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