Antidepressants & The Undead


Several of us involved in monitor other groups setting up to offer information on medicines. Some of these, like eHealthMe, offer useful information sometimes with innovations we wish we had thought of first. The general sales pitch is under the umbrella of Personalized Medicine.

As ever, pharmaceutical companies are in there early. The Brintellix website, as noted in We Should Talk about Brintellix, is a masterclass in how to appear patient-centered, and patient-friendly. How to move with the times and make the new way of doing things yours. It is likely that many will view the concern expressed on websites like the Brintellix one as genuine. People have to be left make their own minds up; the sites come clearly badged for what they are.

AllTrials is a much greater conundrum. Friend or Foe? Liberation Movement or Trojan Horse?


Into this mix, a little over a year ago, stepped San Francisco-based, it proclaimed itself as totally independent of the pharmaceutical industry with an awesome panel of pharmacists and MD-PhD candidates. It aimed at offering people-powered information on medication to guide you in your choices.

Billed by Time as the Yelp of medicine, and by the New York Times as addressing a notable information gap in healthcare, it seemed like the kind of thing to keep an eye on – with perhaps the kind of mixed feelings that Buffy clearly had with the arrival of Faith. Always good to have another Vampire Slayer but where exactly is she coming from?

Several weeks ago Iodine launched Start – a new way to tell if your antidepressant is working for you. You would interact with it and it would guide you, without – it promised – giving any of your data to the pharmaceutical industry. It offered reports to help you work out if your medication was helping or not. Sounded a bit too close to RxISK for comfort.

Its testimonials say it’s empowering and that being able to track your personal journey to wellness makes a big difference.

Some of us downloaded it. The technoranti (tech-ignorant) among us couldn’t get it to work, which is where the real story lies. Others could get Start to start.

If you’re tech savvy (technoscenti) you’ve got time left over to be mischievous. So one of us began Brintellix with the intention of becoming suicidal on it to see what Start would do. Despite a clearly deteriorating mental state, Start stuck to a line that it was best to continue with the medication as that’s what works – and works even better in anyone who is seriously ill. The prompts to fill reports come in relentlessly and no matter how suicidal the report, the response was invariably a cheery message that salvation through pharmaceuticals is just around the corner – even if your doctor does have to switch you to something else.

Start screenshots and testimonials are attached here.

Vampire Manual

The responses for something like this have to be generic – in other words it’s vampire meets human body rather than vampire meets you. If the vampire ever becomes concerned about you, it’s the vampire equivalent of salt losing its bite – as Angel found out when he fell in love with Buffy.

Being generic, the responses have a certain timeless and universal quality. They keep going for the same spot – the jugular. The Start responses map eerily onto the responses in a medication guide for Prozac produced by Lilly in the mid-1990s – long before Apps were born. A different millennium. But close to word-for-word the same – no matter how bad you are feeling, keep taking the meds.

Calling it Night by Night would have been too much of a giveaway. The Day by Day brochure is here. It’s difficult to see this information – billed as helpful – as anything other than more poisonous than the medication.

But as I said, the real story lies with the technorant. You might not be able to get something to work but it’s almost impossible not to be able to download it. If you live in the US, Iodine will install Start on your phone for you if you call them.

But if you then can’t get it to work, it doesn’t go away. It continues to message you for months even though you haven’t filled up the rating scales necessary for your report. You could be swinging from the chandelier or in your grave but the beeps will still come – as long as there is life in your phone.


For centuries, maybe millennia, people have worried about evil spirits and vampires because of unsettling features like the fact that nails and hair keep growing after death. The possibility of possession seemed real enough to make it look like a good idea to dispose of a corpse quickly.

Who knows what the peasants of Eastern Europe – or an Irishman like Bram Stoker – would have conjured out of Start?

Sorry, Buffy; getting beeped when the Apocalypse comes is so last-millennium. The beeps from the Undead go on beyond the Apocalypse.



  1. Dr. Healy,

    I’d be so grateful if a psychiatrist would consider pointing out to the APA, and even the Mayo Clinic, that today’s “gold standard” treatment recommendations for “bipolar” disorder, are also a recipe for how to create anticholinergic intoxication syndrome.

    Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic’s current “bipolar” drug cocktail recommendations.

    As you can see they’re recommending combining the antidepressants and antipsychotics. But, I think all doctors are supposed to learn about anticholinergic toxidrome in med school. These are the drug classes known to cause this toxidrome:

    “Substances that may cause this toxidrome include the four ‘anti’s of antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antiparkinsonian drugs[3] as well as atropine, benztropine, datura, and scopolamine.”

    So, obviously it is not actually wise to combine any of the four “anti’s,” including the antidepressants and antipsychotics. Especially since the central symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication syndrome are:

    “Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

    And the medical community is incapable of distinguishing between “psychosis” created via anticholinergic toxidrome and “psychosis” supposedly attributed to any of the theorized DSM disorders. My psychiatrist’s medical records state he believed these same symptoms were “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.”

    And as you know, we have an almost unfathomable in scope, completely iatrogenic, childhood bipolar epidemic going on in the US, thanks largely to Harvard’s “second only to God” deluded, Dr. Joseph Biederman. And I truly hate to see these million plus “bipolar” DSM-IV-TR misdiagnosed children have to suffer from “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia,” due to the psychiatric industry’s current unwise treatment recommendations for “bipolar” today. Thanks for your consideration.

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  2. @BPD, David Healy responds on his blog/web site. Posts from his blog are here at the discretion of the MIA editors–

    It would be worth your while to pursue more accurate information regarding Healy’s views from his site. I am referring to your first comment and link to Dr. Breggin’s *opinions*.

    Here is a link to a recent post on Healy’s site that addresses the ECT controversy.

    Dr. Healy lives in Wales;.

    David Healy
    Professor of Psychiatry
    Hergest Unit
    Bangor Wales LL57 2PW
    United Kingdom

    He recently completed the restoration of Paxil Study 329, working for over 2 years as a member of the RIAT team. He is a busy guy, but he does respond to comments on his site and he is fairly accessible — and has a formidably loyal following of both patients and professional colleagues.

    FWIW, Dr. Healy passed my litmus test in 2012, when I contacted him per Robert Whitaker’s referral for explicit questions I had about “Anatomy of an Epidemic”.

    Be careful whose bandwagon you jump on– follow the information, NOT the person, is my motto.


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    • Yeah, well I read the blog till I couldn’t take it any more. To me, this sort of detached intellectual discussion pro & con ECT is as obscene as the 1942 “debate” in the American Journal of Psychiatry about the efficacy of euthanasia for the “mentally ill.”

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    • Katie,
      The information says that long-term benefit of ECT is minimal; that people may have symptom reduction for a few months but then within 3-6 months most improvement goes away and the person is as bad or worse off than before. I remember reading about this sequence in Breggin’s books. Sure, a lot of people are briefly helped by ECT – not in terms of addressing their problems, but in terms of having their symptoms shocked out of them – but ultimately it’s another quick-fix profit making scam of psychiatry. Since it can’t be applied responsibly, t would be it would be better if we didn’t have ECT and just helped people with all the psychosocial interventions we have.

      I’ll admit I have a strong dislike of ECT because it was pushed on my father by a quack psychiatrist who did not mention any of the risks, and then my father did suffer memory loss and cognitive impairment because of ECT. So when I see it is being recommended it disturbs me.

      As for Healy, I skimmed through that link and I see this right away, which Healy says critically, “The call to ban ECT is linked to ideas that mental illness doesn’t exist”….

      Well… that’s a failure of my litmus test. Emotional problems, psychosis, depression, etc. are not illnesses. And Healy apparently is a person who doesn’t get that information. So I’m not gonna read any more.

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      • I want to add that an author like Healy having a regular column on MIA for which he doesn’t answer questions is a bit off, to me. Perhaps his articles should come with a caveat, “Author does not read or respond to comments.” I could see counterarguments to this, i.e. the notion that the information alone has value, but on a community-oriented website which is about discussion, it doesn’t feel quite right. Most authors on here do respond to reader questions and requests for input.

        It’s ironically funny to realize that none of this discussion has been about the content of the actual article, which (as usual for a Healy article) very few people seem to be interested in discussing, and I can’t even remember what it was about now. Oh well, I’m not going to reread it.

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        • The article is about an app, and this discussion about the author’s stance on ECT is basically off-topic and ad hominem. I don’t want to suppress legitimate criticism, and criticism of ECT is certainly legit, but the comment section is not an open forum for the character of authors to be put on public trial every time they write a post.

          As for authors responding to comments, it’s true that many do and this is definitely appreciated. But they’re under no obligation to do so. Like it says in our posting guidelines, “A person’s choice not to acknowledge or respond to specific arguments will not be assumed to be malicious, or a sign of a character flaw, or otherwise held against them.”

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          • I put David Healy’s articles on MIA for one reason; he does some of the most trenchant, incisive, persistent, creative, and relentless criticism of pharma that is to be found anywhere. And so in pursuit of MIA’s mission to help further the dialogue, and to help equip those who would be critical of the industry with the most informed, variegated, current, and robust arguments, I feel it would be a disservice to our readers to fail to present David Healy’s work.

            Healy has also created one of the most significant websites dedicated to unearthing adverse effects of medications – Also, he has taken, and continues to take significant risk, and incurs significant adverse consequences in his own life, as a result of this and his past work.

            But his work is presented on MIA on its own merits. Yes, he sometimes strains an analogy up to or beyond the breaking point. But for sheer exuberance and creativity in trying to find cracks in pharma’s armor, he is tough to match. So sometimes I let a strained metaphor slip by, rather than lose the energy that he brings.

            That is my fault. But it’s all in the interest of trying to offer up the most fecund rhetorical brew we can manage. And if we were to discredit everyone who holds a view that we don’t share, we wouldn’t have anyone left to publish. As Katie Higgins said; be careful whose bandwagon you jump on; not every critique is valid. Or, if a critique is valid, it also fails to take the whole picture into account. While many do differ with positions David takes – or seems to take – about ECT, I think that a blanket dismissal of him for that fails to take into account the full character of his position, and of the man. I don’t know whether it’s any less “ad hominem,” in this case, to speak in favor of a man’s character than against it, but I’ve known David for 15 years and feel obliged to say that his work on critiquing pharma is valuable, and he deserves appreciation for it.

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          • And this discussion taking a side turn does seem to be in part because I made a suggestion for Dr. Healy to address a particular concern of mine regarding known drug interactions. I do also read his blogs quite often, and get his emails, so can make the request there. And I do agree, in regards to standing up against the fraud that is big Pharma, Healy’s sometimes overly creative blogs do offer some very valid concerns.

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          • In my first comment, I simply noted that I found out that this author has been heavily supporting ECT, which I think is a relevant thing for readers to know about Dr. Healy, just like it’s a relevant thing for readers to know the risks of psychiatric drugs which aren’t posted on the bottle. Nor have I criticized David Healy “every time” he writes a post, contrary to Emmeline’s notion… not even close. Nor am I the only commenter who has spontaneously brought this up on Healy articles about other topics.

            It is a fair point about authors not having to comment; I will let that go.

            Regarding Kermit’s post below, it sounds like he is making good points. I agree that the posts that Healy writes exposing psychiatric drugs are valuable.

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        • While accurate information does have value in and of itself I think it is unrealistic to expect MIA readers, especially ECT victims, to ignore this glaring contradiction. As they often do contain valuable information, I’m not saying Mr. Healy’s articles shouldn’t be printed. But if Martin Luther King had enjoyed going to dog fights on the side it would have been hard for people to put it out of their minds while listening to him speaking about civil rights.

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          • @BPD & oldhead,

            Briefly , David Healy does not “heavily support ECT” – please read Johanna’s comment for the nitty gritty on Healy’s actual practice for a clearer picture of his involvement —

            The link @BPD posted was a constant on nearly every Healy blog post put up here on MIA– since 2012– . The info insertion– despite the topic of the blog, was a bells and whistles FYI– which usually drowned out the topic of the blog– so really made the point *this guy has nothing to say that we want to hear.”

            Glaring contradictions are the product of subjective and personal insights -. Only if you discount the pertinent information about Dr. Healy’s practice– from his patient’s openly expressing their experience with him and ECT– and only if you *imagine* the long list of negative- cheap shots aimed at his integrity are FACTS can anyone claim there are glaring contradictions that cannot be ignored.

            @BPD– you just assumed the role of town cryer — with all good intentions, no doubt, but your message is inaccurate and your assumptions reflect a cavalier attitude toward making character aspersions on a public forum.

            C’mom — you two would not want to be treated this carelessly… would you?

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          • I think I’m sort of getting dragged into something here. I’m not part of a duo, and BPD can speak for himself.

            I don’t think pointing out contradictions constitutes character assassination. We all have contradictions. But I see no reason to ignore them either. Unless you’re saying that Healy is less than equivocal about ECT, I believe his attitude is worthy of note. That’s all.

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          • Katie,
            My point was that long-term outcome research shows little or no benefit of ECT in terms of lasting symptom improvement and functional improvement. This is on average, it doesn’t relate to individual stories. It’s from the studies I read about in Whitaker and Breggin. Maybe they are missing out studies showing that ECT is a really good treatment on average. If David Healy has found or done research showing long-term benefits of ECT over years – please share it. Honestly, I’m too lazy right now to go look through reams of Healy’s site and just not interested enough to do so.

            I’m not an expert on ECT research. But the research I have read suggests that using ECT isn’t making a big positive difference and may be causing long-term harm. So to me Healy is promoting potentially harmful unevidenced practices, although again maybe he knows about research I don’t. Maybe he is simply going with his gut and with anecdotes as “evidence” for ECT in the way that most psychiatrists go with psych drugs even though they suck – again, on average. I don’t think he’s willfully doing anything to harm anyone – very few do that. But it’s still upsetting given the massive trend in psychiatry toward making up evidence and cherrypicking anecdotes and generally distorting reality to justify interventions that do little good for the “patients”.

            Poor Dr. Healy. At least he is not here to read about how is being “treated” 🙂 However, his treatment is a good deal less shocking than what happened to my father at the hands of the psychiatrist I told the story about, pun intended.

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      • @BPD, your points about ECT are well taken. I have a strong aversion to *causing seizures* and wince whenever I hear personal testimonies of resounding success with *this treatment*. Hard for me to *not* to invalidate the benefits that some patients have shared with me, while holding in my own revulsion—. But to be totally honest, I have had the same confounding reactions to a great number of procedures and treatments I witnessed while working in critical care settings for 5 years– and then, there is the torment of the loss of quality of life my mother suffered from adverse effects of a biopsy on her *inoperable* *terminal* brain tumor. Members of my family were satisfied that her sacrifice furthered research and eventually ( 20 years later) , treatment for astrocytoma. I am still upset because she was not able to comprehend the sacrifice she was making and in fact, my father signed the consent form. So…..

        Here’s my point, or issue, or matter of concern:

        Grinding axes vs. wielding them (axes).

        I think the points made in the blog post you only skimmed are crucial to ALL discussions here and elsewhere on Western biomedicine–. ALL biological, reductionist, scientific evidence based treatments are potentially harmful and even lethal in the wrong hands. I should mention the murder I witnessed in a cardiology procedure room– perforated major artery during routine angioplasty in an otherwise healthy 55 year old woman. Lawsuit, settled out of court. No formal charges– *death* is a risk from most invasive procedures– and the efficacy of many is a matter one could say is still *up in the air * so to speak. Whaddya do? Ban the procedures?

        Educating the public, listening to patients and speaking truth to power is the only recourse that makes sense. David Healy does all of these things– and his practice, I have to conclude, must concur with all the qualities that a *good doctor* exhibits. Most importantly, he respects differences and encourages debate . It is no secret that I want to obliterate psychiatry as a medical specialty– which, takes ECT out, needless to say. I receive no less respect, support and even assistance from Dr. Healy as I engage in my passionate pursuits than any of his most outspoken supporters. That is as unique and no less unexplainable than so many other paradoxes in the medical field today. But the truth of it speaks volumes…

        This blog post is consistent with the public education mission Dr. Healy has championed since being shunned and vilified by his academic peers. Take it or leave it, but disparaging him is a fools errand, imo, for anyone serious about challenging the power and authority of psychiatry. Insiders are the best informants. You can gauge Healy’s effectiveness by the notorious slander that our most prominent academic psychiatrists heap upon him.

        Re: Peter Breggin’s criticism of Healy– I have thought long and hard about this– have tried to engage Dr. Breggin right here on this site and outside it as well– I have also read most of Breggin’s books and admire his practice and his courage. Peter Breggin defies all the *rules*– . I will give him a pass on this because I think he has earned the kind of respect a wise elder commands. In other words, I will *not* criticize Breggin personally, or discredit his invaluable contributions to protecting the human rights of psychiatric victims–. He is a special case, in my book, — still, I would not blindly follow hm — anywhere, if you get my drift.

        Hope you rethink your position 🙂

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        • Yes, there are medically valid and necessary procedures and “treatments” that involve risk and potential damage or death. The difference is that ECT is not a necessary or valid “medical” “treatment”. It is a bogus quack “procedure” that numerous neurologists and other clinicians have stated causes “brain damage”, which is never an acceptable risk.
          In a previous post, you spoke of dissuading a DESPERATE patient from having ECT. Most desperate, drugged, uninformed patients have not been that lucky. You also said “I think it is barbaric, inhumane.” Well, I agree with that. Should something “barbaric and inhumane” be used on anyone? Especially when it basically means administering multiple sub-concussive blows to a delicate brain which can destroy ones sense of self and identity. Death is a far less terrible fate than that…
          We learn more each day of the toll that repeated mild sub- concussive hits athletes have experienced take on their brains; is this not easily transferable to assaulting that poor desperate pregnant girl or elderly woman with 12 ECT in a month. Where does common sense and simple logic come into play? When multiple neurologists seeing patients for three decades confirm ECT causes brain damage, what more do we need?

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          • @truth,
            Unfortunately, “bogus quack procedures” pass as valid medical treatment, too. So did invasive monitoring of critically ill patients with a poor prognosis *pass* for
            practice needed by medical residents training in critical care units- and for the data that created treatment intervention algorithms. This is an example of a human patient undergoing inhumane and barbaric “cutting edge medical treatment” under the radar, meaning no consent required, all for the presumption that some *greater good* will result and justify it all.

            Though it may seem I am *trashing* Western Biomedicine , I am merely pointing out that the means does not always justify the ends, and it has been decades since care and comfort of the *medically ill patient* trumped the
            quest to conquer death. And then there is the newer risk management approach to medical treatment where you get drugs , with a dubious safety/efficacy rating to prevent a disease/disorder, you are deemed *at risk* for developing. I call that quackery to the 10th power.

            I have some reservations regarding the proclamations, or opinions, you cite as fact; that *brain damage* from ECT is the same as sub-concussive blows to the head/brain. In addition to questions raised by other equally qualified physicians on this score, and people who claim to have recovered, their lost self after ECT, this cannot be a given effect– maybe a potential one, I don’t know, but I have held to my initial *cringe/wince* reaction to *causing a brain seizure*- would never submit to ECT, nor allow a loved one to be *shocked*–and YES, I have offered my misgivings to anyone contemplating ECT who seeks my *professional opinion*. — Yet, I am as happy to hear that benefit was attained from ECT as I am elated every time I hear any story of narrow escape from impending disaster. Mind you, there are many narrow escape stories in the archives of medical history . Sometimes it is harder to account for success than it is to explain failure.

            It is possible to abhor ECT and still respect the dignity of the lives of those who choose it, seek it, rely on it-. It is possible to hold two directly opposing concepts in one’s mind and grapple with the agony of the inequities and *not* rule out the possibility that both can be equally correct– impossible as it seems.

            Johanna’s comment below is a much better description of the actual process of transcending differences and igniting the power of diversity to achieve amazing feats.

            A flock of amicable sheep or a herd of conformist buffalo don’t inspire visions of ground breaking progress, for me, at least. But we do have to adhere to some mutually acceptable human values– and maybe agree there is no single ultimate authority — on what is best for everyone else– if we want to achieve something that truly benefits everyone.

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        • Well put, Katie. I have had ECT myself — twelve sessions as recommended, back in the 1980’s, for severe “treatment resistant” depression. It did me no good at all. On the other hand, it did me no long-term damage that I can tell. It did cause short-term cognitive impairment, particularly memory loss, and to this day my memory of October 1985 is pretty spotty. But then, I was drinking pretty heavily too.

          I have met people who insist that ECT “saved their life”, and others who insist ECT ruined their life, or at least did permanent damage. Neither one happened to me. But if I’ve learned one thing hanging out in places like Mad in America, I’ve learned not to discount others’ experiences because they don’t duplicate mine.

          As for David Healy, well, I don’t really agree with his views on ECT, and the recent discussion on his blog did not convince me. However, I was impressed with his willingness to have that discussion, at length, with people whose views came mainly from trying to make sense of their own experience. He’s also heard me out on the question, understands I don’t agree, and has never hesitated to work with me anyway. Just like a lot of other patients/survivors/whatever-the-hell-we-are, who may disagree with him on vaccines, the limited use of psych drugs, the existence of “mental illness” and lots of things. We get his respect regardless, and tend to respect him in return. Pretty uncommon among medical experts, or experts in general. Or people, really.

          When it comes to ECT, I can at least say, among those who defend it he is one of the VERY few who will admit that it’s not a panacea, it can have adverse effects, and it can be and has been misused. He’s also dead set against involuntary ECT in any form. I know, I know, many folks here do not believe “consent” to ECT can exist. They’ll tell me I must have been brainwashed, mind-raped or something similar; I could not possibly have consented. But I did. And I also decided I did not want more ECT, and thank god I was not forced to continue. Consent matters. A lot. I respect people who respect consent.

          Finally, for all the time he spends justifying the existence of ECT, he uses it fairly rarely. According to an NHS report, in a two-year period, in all of Wales, 360 people had ECT — 180 per year, out of 5 million or so. The corner of NW Wales where David practices (on a 100% salaried basis BTW, in a nationalized health system, no payments received for specific procedures) can’t be more than 20% of Wales, and David only practices in one of its 3 major hospitals — giving ECT to six or seven patients a year, most likely. You may think that’s six or seven too many, but it’d be awfully hard to say he makes his money or builds his career on ECT — or that he goes around forcing it on people either.

          We have a number of tribes here, philosophically speaking. Some people believe it is sometimes justified to take a psychoactive drug, and others do not. Some believe there is absolutely no such thing as mental illness, and others believe there is. Rarely will we convert each other, but we can work together on a whole lot of things, and we can respect each other. Healy gives others that respect, to a really remarkable degree, which is one reason why he gets respect in return. Stop reading his column if you must, but it’d be a damn shame to shut it down.

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          • Putting this above your comment, John.
            I think Dr. Healy has this covered. In one of his blog posts he stated: “I have great respect for both Richard Bentall and John Read. There are a few points to make in regard to their review. It doesn’t take the CORE studies into account. These offer pretty definitive results in support of ECT.”
            And, I guess, these studies headed up by a pro-shock researcher have to be reliable and believable when the studies cited by Bentall and Read aren’t??
            It is like his statement that Bob Whitaker’s book: “Bob’s book is having a huge effect for the good-but it’s not right about ECT. Books can sometimes be helpful when they are wrong.”
            I guess this all means that pretty much everyone is wrong about ECT but Dr. Healy.
            So his book written with Ned Shorter about shock is, apparently, “right” about ECT.
            Dr. Healy is a brilliant doctor and researcher and he writes quirky, engaging articles that are full of valuable information and warnings people need regarding psychiatric drugs and the corruption to be found in Big Pharma and psychiatry itself. I wish his clear-eyed, critical cutting through the lies and misrepresentations to find the truth applied to his approach to ECT.

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  3. Not having a set “litmus test”, I am finding this discussion about Dr Healey’s character, intentions, place in the greater scheme of MIA interesting.

    I have at times been among his critics. At times I find some of his metaphors and analogies totally unfathomable. However, to discount his extensive and valuable work on meds on the basis of his work in another field (ECT, which I abhor), seems somewhat counterproductive.

    He is doing valuable research on meds, he is speaking out and educating both doctors and lay people on meds. Perhaps he offers an alternative that many of us find offensive, but that does not lessen or nullify his contribution to discussions on psychopharmacology or the value of his contribution.

    I find it helpful to approach them as separate issues which really have nothing to do with his intrinsic value as a person or as a contributor to this site. However, I do reserve the right to disagree at times, just as I disagree with many of the MIA Authors on various issues. I do not reserve the right to psycho analyse or judge.

    At times I have spoken out, more often I have reflected on their position and realised that what they say and/or how they have said it might just have helped someone reach an understanding which is quite different from what the writer had intended! Like OOPS!…you just convinced a few more people of the opposite of what you intended, or the discussion following the article highlights flaws in arguments and different approaches and interpretations.

    A variety of opinions and approaches is what keeps this site interesting, and if we get rid of authors simply because we choose to sit in judgement and/or they don’t echo our personal belief systems, or present things we strongly disagree with, then soon it will be no more than an echo chamber for the most vociferous contributors and will have a narrow and limiting dominant paradigm. Its value will have been eroded.

    This article is about an app. It highlights that all may not be as it seems…buyer beware…an alert to share.

    Dear David, Thanks. If someone asks me about it or recommends it, I’ll be in a better position to respond thoughtfully. Having the word out there on the tricks that might be behind some of the apps and “helpful tools” becoming available is a worthwhile contribution, in my mind, even though I do strongly disagree with your stance on ECT.

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  4. @truth,

    All other things being equal in terms human capacity, there is a major difference between a clinician and a journalist in the realm of perspectives on patient care and treatment issues– and just as great of a dichotomy exists between a patient’s experience and research analyst’s conclusions regarding patient care and treatment issues.

    In trite cliche terms, where you stand depends on where you sit, but I would add that *confirmation* bias is by far the most insidious ; that is, *what* one chooses to believe is far more likely to influence perceptions than *who* one chooses to believe– So, you will look for the flaw in those who are closest to the matter at issue, (doctors and outspoken proponents of ECT) and accept the third party commentaries as most accurate? Not logical, but then you already know what you believe– now to find a credible source to confirm it—?

    By all other accounts, lived experience and the anecdotal evidence of long standing practicing physicians – corroborated by patient testimony would settle the matter as YES, potential for harm– BUT for some, risk is worth the benefit. An inconvenient truth? It does not address coercion, force and malpractice either….

    Text book knowledge and even professional training can actually get in the way of resolving complex issues in medical practice– or bias a clinician to the extent that he discounts his own perceptions entirely. – example:
    Adverse drug reaction? Nope! It’s a symptom of a new disorder!!

    Looking for absolutes? Not likely you will find them in any endeavor that deals with human beings– no two of us are exactly alike. The more one tries to fit us into categories or affix labels to us, the less likely one will see the human issues in front of his eyes. — And miss the boat entirely–

    That is what this blog post addresses– stock answers for routine questions can be fatal…. Especially when the providers of the answers own stock in product they are monitoring !!

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    • Voluntary verses UN-voluntary is the issue. The heartless “Start” application just advocates more miracle drugs, to this current age of molecule worshipers.

      The commenters here upset about Dr. Healy’s promotion of electroshock fail to distinguish the salesman from the involuntary commitment law. If someone wants brain damage from a doctor they should have the right to get it, the same way a plastic surgeon has the right to mutilate someone face if the patient seeks it.

      If the patient is not in jail, the jailers can not force electroshock on to their patient.

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    • “Looking for absolutes? Not likely you will find them in any endeavor that deals with human beings– no two of us are exactly alike. The more one tries to fit us into categories or affix labels to us, the less likely one will see the human issues in front of his eyes. — And miss the boat entirely–”

      Nice, Katie– yes, I believe that’s a bottom line here.

      And I’d extend that a bit to say, for myself, that the more one tries to analyze and ‘figure out’ others, the less likely we will perceive, on a felt sense, a person’s heart and spirit–unless we are specifically tuned into that particular frequency of energy.

      Although admittedly, when we are aware that something is amiss and people are being negatively impacted chronically, then of course, one needs to figure out where the problem is, and it is often with a particularly influential person, and/or a group mindset and standard, that is not well-balanced.

      Still, resolving issues continues to be a matter of tuning into the heart’s wisdom, not primarily our analyzing intellect. Not only is the intellect where we’re most capable of projecting stigma and other unfounded negative qualities that undermine an individual’s healing and self-confidence, but also, the intellect can only support or not support what the heart establishes as truth in any given moment. When the heart and mind are not in agreement, then we experience anxiety from a split consciousness.

      So when it comes to personal growth and evolution, is it easier to change our minds or our hearts to come into synch with ourselves? For me, my heart is pretty constant in its desires, but my mind is malleable, I learn new things daily that prompt me to expand my awareness and align in a deeper way with my personal values.

      So I think it’s easier to change our minds and shift our beliefs than it is to challenge and shift our heart’s desires. Perhaps others have a different experience.

      If we’re looking for ‘what’s wrong with that person’ then we are well-poised to project all sorts of things onto a person, and call it ‘their issues.’ If we are looking for what we can admire and respect, then that is what we will discover–not just in others, but in ourselves. Where is our focus?

      I think it’s really about our intention, when we assess others. So indeed, we miss the boat: the humanity of an individual.

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  5. In coming out of 10 years of hospitalizations as a “paranoid schizophrenic” some 37 years ago, I was lucky not to get over involved with medications. I’ve been working in the patient’s lib projects and more currently searching for self-help options to standard treatment for those caught up in recovery that’s counter-producitive.

    I am dismayed to discover the emphasis on medications and their problems as probably the number one issue among those who are in crisis or in recovery. This means to me that Big Pharma has won the struggle.

    And I see this divide in coming forward with the program, and with the new knowledge on epigenetics that uses a newer form of reductionist science to explain mental problems, and etc.

    The references to vampires and the like is cute and probably appeals to teenagers.

    What is someone who is serious about ending personal problems with relationships and communications to do when the advocates for alternatives stoop to this rather than exposing faults of the medical model and proposing common sense alternatives?

    Let’s leave the RISK assessments and deal with the real problems, please. Expose the medical/psychiatric profession for what it is and spend our energy in creating real humanistic alternatives, not patching up what’s wrong with meds.

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  6. A while back I remember reading an article on this site about Jeffrey Lieberman for which the comments had been turned off out of respect for his dignity. Either the author (Bruce Levine) or Robert Whitaker said it just wasn’t right to let people bash Lieberman in the comments.

    So it gave me pause when I noticed that routine Healy bashing is tolerated here. As an American, I’ve felt embarrassed that this website saves it’s worst manners for a foreign correspondent who sacrifices his time and risks his career to support those of us who have been grievously harmed by doctors who didn’t warn about the inherent dangers in popular medication treatments.

    I emailed an MIA administrator and said that surely we could find a way to respect an ally with whom some of us disagree since it had been done for Jeffrey Lieberman (with whom most of us disagree). My email was forwarded on to a more appropriate person who never replied.

    I realize infighting is a part of activist culture but I’ve just got to say that this community, (if we call it a community) could learn a thing or two from observing the respect David Healy and the RxISK team demonstrate toward people who come to them with something to contribute.

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    • This is getting too weird.

      Why can’t there just be a consensus around the obvious — that Healy a) does valuable work exposing the corruption of the pharmaceutical industry; and b) has a horrendously cavalier attitude about ECT? That’s not “bashing” anyone, just pointing out what’s there to observe.

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      • It’s weird because everyone has to be right and in order to be right, each individual clings to a pedantic shade of meaning, hoping that if the slice of meaning gets small enough, it will become intellectually unassailable. It is the same reason that the horrors perpetrated on labeled persons are usually no longer discussed in their full, disgusting, bloody, body counting horror. Everybody wants their little slice that they can be “famous” for, whatever famous means in a community of people generally unknown to the public at large. No one stands for the big picture anymore because it is TOO big. It is, by its size, inherently indefensible against those who choose to make their fortunes and names carving out a little piece of it upon which they can become a “well known expert”. That is why this discussion is so weird.

        This is a response to OLDHEAD, btw.

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        • I won’t know if my photo has been deleted, as per my request, until *after* I hit submit– So,

          I am taking the risk of looking even more like *Nurse Rachet* to add another shade of perplexity to a this profound revelation about the quest for fame, wealth and notoriety as a “well known expert”.

          Usually there is some requisite proof of one’s expertise, or something tangible and quantifiable that can substantiate one’s claim to being an *expert*. But, none of this proof of expertise in the brand new field of child psychiatry was sought or required by the wealthy patrons who funded the Judge Baker Center in Boston (1917)– on the condition that a physician with a few years experience researching the causes of juvenile delinquency in the first Juvenile Court in Chicago (1909) would direct this center, and become chief advisor to Boston’s second juvenile court judge. Judge Cabot was also granted a position on the board of directors at the Judge Baker Center– forerunner of Boston Children’s Hospital’s adolescent inpatient psych unit, Bader 5. It was decided in 1917, by a majority of New England’s wealthiest WASP families (AKA the Boston Brahmins) , that science, & medicine held the best promise for addressing the social problems that threatened and burdened their city. In the *hope* of rescuing the children of poor immigrant families from their cultural predisposition to a life of crime , early 20th century Bostonian philanthropists dismissed proposals made by social reformers and bank rolled the model for our juvenile court system .

          In partnership with psychiatrists, juvenile justice and the child welfare system grew from the *expert*– salesmanship of the doctor who is credited with establishing child psychiatry as a unique sub-specialty in the medical field. His name was Dr. William Healy. (“Taming the Troublesome Child”, American Families, Child Guidance, and the Limits of Psychiatric Authority, Kathleen W. Jones /1999)

          Pages of American history reviewed and critiqued by three other sources, confirm that there were serious misgivings in the early 1900’s about psychiatry being included in the practice of medicine; concerns about discounting the obvious – that 4/5s of *juvenile offenders* were poor, immigrants living in major urban centers of the American industrial revolution–gave cause for resistance to a so-called medical explanation for the problematic annoyances and challenges to authority that made up the majority of juvenile crimes. Unfortunately, the proponents of this *new* science had the money to establish the institution of psychiatry– and short change a myriad of social approaches to the task of assisting immigrants to assimilate into American society– .

          There were NO experts in child psychiatry at the time of this fatally flawed decision– because the field had not been around long enough to determine exactly what it was, nor was there any substantial proof that Dr. William Healy was successfully treating juvenile crime as the *individual’s juvenile’s sickness*. He only did research for a few years in Chicago , as advisor to first juvenile court judge there, AND authored “The Individual Delinquent”.

          Imagine– you study a group of kids in an institutional setting; publish your take on what caused them to become public annoyances and anti-authoritarian pranksters. On the merits of your book, based on your own research, you become the sought after *expert* to assume the role of director in another setting where you will be the chief advisor to the juvenile court judge. The first 10 years of funding for your own research center , where you will now be free to treat as well as diagnose adolescents, is guaranteed by the wealthiest families in the country who have set up a special /fund . Regardless of there being no evidence – not on the first or any subsequent studies done on your work with *deliquents* ; no evidence of success for your *methods*– and some concerns about possible harm caused by your *methods– FUNDING for your work and more praise for your role in pioneering what has to be the world’s worst child abuse for profit mill –are naming you *foremost expert* on the psychological problems that plague the other sectors of society that you branches out to claim.

          This is a slice of our history that defines a process for achieving recognition as an *expert*. Not because you were *right* about something, or *famous* for miracle cures, but because you sold your self to the highest bidders, who were buying their own financial security and protecting their values and life styles.

          This is a key piece of the puzzle often missing in the arguments that break out over who is responsible for a paradigm of cultural discrimination passing for a medical specialty, that has overtaken and nearly obliterated rational thinking about the behavior, the challenges and the needs of kids; ;that pathologized the human condition under stress – and disconnected the relevant social, environmental precipitants of human suffering from the list of things WE should invest time and money to work on–and work out. n

          WE have a different set of circumstances than the U.K or any other developed country, for that matter–and a whole different set of challenges here in the U.S.– due mostly to the power psychiatry has to keep their secrets.

          ECT is not subject to medical review of any kind- thus, psychiatrists are very remiss about documenting and reporting the specifics of their use of ECT or the results. WE are lacking a means to calculate the damage– in human terms from someone, anyone close to the issue, other than psychiatrists themselves. They still expect to wield authority as *experts* who cannot be questioned by *us* because — that has been their right of passage for over a hundred years. Who knows what exactly they are doing when there is zero call for accountability–??–Forget scientific evidence of benefits of ECT for a moment and think about the sheer absence of reliable statistics on this practice in the U. S.– Reporting of accurately documented records is NOT legally enforced– or specifically required by a medical review board–

          Demanding accountability, demanding proof of expertise before elevating anyone to the status of expert is where we need to start-.

          David Healy’s work is an excellent foundation to build on.. A full fledged movement to debunk the *false claims to fame* made by self professed experts , has to be grounded in the science that was absent when the experts rose to power, in the first place.

          Side bar– David Healy’s position on ECT as it relates to his own practice or in general has absolutely no bearing on how or when we grapple with the scourge of psychiatry that was branded in America. But his insights into *how we got here* and his dedication to restoring some credibility to academic medicine are linked to our little piece of the big picture– . This is why it is weird to discuss ECT and dismiss another brilliant blog he has written.

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          • “WE are lacking a means to calculate the damage-in human terms from someone, anyone close to the issue, other than psychiatrists themselves.”???
            I am confused. WHY is this HARD when we, the thousands of brain-damaged victims of ECT and their families and loved ones have very clearly outlined and documented what this misguided assault has cost us? Are we not as close to the issue as one can get?? Meaning victims are not viewed as credible if they have drug damage or ECT damage?
            Who is the “rape” expert? The one committing it or “researching it”, or the victims?
            You write “forget ‘scientific evidence of benefits of ECT for a moment”—how about substituting “forget vast, historical, long-term, ongoing, and increasing scientific evidence of irreversible harm and injury caused by ECT”??
            That is the point. The science that is being ignored or spun. Calling “reduced connectivity in the frontal lobes” as a result of ECT a “good thing” rather than evidence of an electrical lobotomy is certainly one way to spin “scientific”results.

            You mention the need for “ACCURATELY documented records” for ECT. Do you just mean type given, numbers, or perceived outcomes? Given that shock docs and nurses were found in studies to record or document “mood improved”, “less complaining”, or “less agitation” when the reality was probably “shock induced euphoria” or “organic brain syndrome”, or “apathy”, due to brain injury, how valid is the documentation? Studies showed deeply conflicting views, with doctors deeming ECT recipients as “better”, when the clients rated themselves as “worse”? What kind of problem is that?
            Yes, some people survived ECT, I would imagine bc of low numbers, spaced “treatments”, low voltage, and brief pulse unilateral type. Others state they felt it helped them or “saved their lives”. Others have been destroyed and have committed suicide, unable to live with their injuries.
            Perhaps the consent form should clearly outline these possible outcomes to potential “consumers”, along with a clear warning that permanent memory loss can cover decades and cognitive dysfunction can also be permanent. Given this information, a patient and her family are in a better position to judge. Oh, but again, there are those problems with desperation and coercion, and malpractice, and the fact that each ECT causes more brain injury and confusion so consent does not really exist beyond #1, whose consent may have been based on lies or misinformation to begin with!
            Barbaric and inhumane, ECT is PART of the scourge of psychiatry, an atrocity whose time should be past.
            Want to restore some “credibility” to academic medicine? Stop pretending “psychiatry” has anything to do with medicine. “Psychiatry is to medicine as astrology is to astronomy.”

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          • Katie — First of all I should let you know that I agree with and support 90% of your posts, generally speaking.

            Here I think you’re making this way too complicated, and seem to feel compelled to defend Dr. Healy’s basic character when it is not under attack, at least from me.

            The issue of anyone practicing electroshock is never irrelevant to any discussion on these pages. Dr. Healy is not being singled out for abuse. If he does indeed practice ECT he should expect to be challenged on it. If not this should be exposed as damaging misinformation.

            Your research in the above response is admirable but sort of beside the point (sort of like the long soliloquies we have seen in the past from men trying to evade basic points being made about sexism, for example). There seems to be an elephant in the room is all.

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          • oldhead,

            This response is probably appearing out of sequence– reply button problem :-/

            I appreciate that you have clearly delineated your issue–

            “The issue of anyone practicing electroshock is never irrelevant to any discussion on these pages. Dr. Healy is not being singled out for abuse.”

            I do disagree with this point you are making , because I think what you are suggesting here is also a justification for NOT discussing the topic of Healy’s blog post(s)–

            As Kermit reiterated,
            David Healy’s blogs are re-posted here on MIA, meeting the standards of the editors ,– so . what does derailing the discussion thread on to a topic Healy did not blog about– infer? EVEN if no one is saying it outright, it is showing disrespect for the work he is doing and a disregard for ITS relevance, imo.

            That is my issue– not necessarily his character– but the significance of his work and the irrelevance of his position on ECT , to his contribution to work many of us are doing. I say this believing that his position or practice of ECT does not directly impact our predicament –with branded in America psychiatry– .

            I was working on a blog post on the historical research I have been compelled to do– trying to get to the bottom of “Medical Child Abuse”– I am still very deeply effected by my involvement with Justina Pelletier’s suffering at the hands of my former colleagues. I was reeling from the shock of learning that child psychiatry came into being and became powerful via association with juvenile court and backed by the Boston Brahmin’s Cumberland Fund–; that parens patriae – *state as our parent until we are 18yrs*– also the work of this wealthy group– is tantamount to State = psychiatry- our true parent is *psychiatry* . WHO KNEW?

            So, was getting down to writing the detailed history scandal– when I saw BPDs comment here–

            “When something requires your undivided attention, it will occur simultaneously with a compelling distraction”– this axiom is the story of my life–

            It seems relevant to what happened here when BPD posted the link to Breggin’s article–

            I think others who have commented here; Johanna, Laurie, Leonie- covered David Healy’s character defense matter better than I could. And I see that it is not your intention to spin off of the Peter Breggin linked 2012 article–where there are various speculations that cast aspersions on Healy’s character—(I suggested caution about jumping on that band wagon)

            I think this is a complicated matter– and the gorilla will go to bed after all the other zoo animals (the elephant, too) walk nicely back to their cages — just like they do in the story, “Goodnight Gorilla” . analogy to putting issues to rest.-

            So long as people are relying on ECT, requesting it– or even willing to take the risk– AND report positive outcomes with minimal or no lasting harm– ,it really makes no sense to debate ECT as though we or anyone will decide whether it is ever used or not–, or whether it is available, offered. — So, does it make sense to use — the bandwagon approach??

            We can, and should take action to begin holding psychiatry accountable; to expose their frauds/crimes– and fully explain why we are ALL afflicted in some way, by the infiltration of psychiatry into our lives–, because this happened in a manner that is both undemocratic and unconstitutional– . And since the social control function of psychiatry was intentional and imposed– per documented history, we have bigger fish to fry– imo.

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          • I think the derailing of the specific topic was unfortunate but inevitable, as people had never really vented on this up till now.
            Anyway I was happily putting the gorilla to bed when I came upon this:
            So long as people are relying on ECT, requesting it– or even willing to take the risk– AND report positive outcomes with minimal or no lasting harm– ,it really makes no sense to debate ECT as though we or anyone will decide whether it is ever used or not–, or whether it is available, offered. — So, does it make sense to use — the bandwagon approach?

            I think as a movement we should be able to achieve a consensus that ECT should never be allowed or condoned in the name of medicine. Perhaps ritual self-mutilation, branding, etc. should be legal as well; would physicians feel equally comfortable prescribing such even if there were a few happy customers raving about their benefits? Anyway, by no means should the jury be considered still out on this.

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  7. Katie,

    To be honest, I used to cringe when Dr. Healy’s name was mentioned because of his association with ECT. But as I have learned with my own medical situation , nothing is ever as black and white as it seems.

    I went back to read his website and my gosh, the work he is doing to make the public aware of the risks of psych meds and withdrawal can’t be brushed aside. He is also bringing awareness of the bad effects of other meds such as statins.

    I just feel that if we keep waiting for the perfect professional who doesn’t have any warts, we’ll be waiting a long time. And no, contrary to popular believe on this site, Dr. Breggin is not perfect by a long shot.

    And your statistics on how involved he is with ECT really put things into perspective which I greatly appreciate. And since he doesn’t provide involuntary ECT, that makes the situation more palatable although I am not thrilled with it. But I am definitely not one who wants to throw him overboard.

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    • AA,

      I appreciate that you have *read*, as opposed to skimmed, articles on Dr. Healy’s website. Especially because you, too had the cringe phenomenon to overcome! This discussion– though not about the actual blog post has been ground breaking, as your comment demonstrates.

      I just want to give credit due to Johanna Ryan, who did the research and posted statistics about Dr. Healy’s involvement with ECT here. It is noteworthy that she also shared she had ECT and did not benefit, nor did she sustain long term damage. She states that she disagrees with Dr. Healy’s position on ECT and she works with him on Rxisk and relies on his support for work she is doing. Her research is very highly praised — maybe because her passion for what she researches is linked to her own personal experiences ?

      Our personal feelings, preferences, even biases are usually very strong, but they can fuel so much more than protest campaigns– .depending on how we direct or channel the emotional energy– imo.

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  8. “If the patient is not in jail , the jailers can not force electroshock on to their patient.”

    In 1964 as a minor I was unjustly forced into jail and from there unjustly forced into a mental hospital and while there forced into a series of 15 bilateral electroshock “treatments”within 30 days. One of them applied before anesthesia took effect . Healy would not allow himself to have one like that even for a large cash prize. But he would learn that the books written about how positive shock box voltage is are bogus . Only one other person e-mailed from the organization Zapback experienced the super painful atomic bomb like inner skull extending outward explosion that occurs . They said it was exactly the way I described it . There is nothing in the literature about it . Them that ain’t had it know zippo about it . It’s pretty easy to stand there and hit a switch for an arbitrary amount of time to apply high voltage’s to peoples brains and collect money while calling your self some kind of doctor with government sanctioning . ( with the swagger and verbal confidence of a gestapo to boot ) People do come in strange packages and I’ll grant that Healy is an enigma . But calling himself an expert about what electro-shock feels like or does , give me a break . I could write a book on just the one series of 15 bi-lateral voltage electroshocks I was forced to receive, let alone 40 years of torture being connected as a victim of the pharma psych medical government gulag. Been free now as I can be for about 13 years . (Even while the Fascist Therapeutic State makes bold outrageous moves to surround the population from the youngest to the oldest . From the cradle to the grave .)

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  9. @truth,

    You’re right about the significance of the number of victims and their families — and the degree of brain damage reported by them after ECT– YES, this is alarming, but it is also in conflict with the PR propagated by psychiatry and the testimonials of proponents of ECT. Knowing that we have a fundamental flaw in this reporting system; that as you go up the chain of command, so to speak, the rhetoric becomes more favorable for whatever psych treatment is under scrutiny – and less grounded in *science*, Data medicine could clarify the discrepancies for the public and our political leaders– but raising the issue that there currently IS no legally required data recording for ECT and NO medical, *not* psychiatry, but medical assessment and oversight bears repeating. That is the message, I personally would like our *town cryer* to spread far and wide– because the lack of concern shown by psychiatry– across the board, for SCIENCE and the scientific method as it is applied to medicine/ clinical practice is truly frightening.

    Anyone can track down stats on most invasive, high risk medical procedures, and even research the doctor’s track record , or the hospital’s *rating* for a given procedure. ECT needs to be tracked this way– with an additional assessment that is performed by non-psychiatric clinicians. Emphasis on patient self report and significant other reporting is clearly noted in neurology, for example– where a symptom or problem identified and completely described is *key* to diagnosis.
    A spotlight needs to be cast on this scourge– and I think that mandating ALL aspects of recording data for review and analysis by an independent medical board is enough to scare the you know what out of many psychiatrists.

    My psych inpatient experience is full of crucial contradictions and paradoxes– that stuck out for me because I had 14 years experience in medicine before seeing the horrified looks on a doctor’s face when the suggestion is made to them by a nurse, no less that a *symptom* or an *effect* of treatment is organic or physiological in nature — mention *medical* anything to most psychiatrists–ha! Like a cross to a vampire–***Reference to Buffy !!*** staying on topic..

    I know and perhaps most psych survivors know how medically inept most psychiatrists are– but, to the general public and in their PR pubs, they *appear* capable of stating how *safe* and *effective* their treatments are– One might well imagine, as I have that they could make a whack on the head with a baseball bat–Appear *risk free*, and get some poor victim to attest to the life saving experience he had with “bat to the head” therapy.

    A problem this BIG — did not manifest overnight–, I am finding that this whole *expert* concept as it relates to the *new* science , new at the turn of the 20th century, was coined by the ruling class– the 1%– “more money than brains* – enamored with psychology, psychiatry and the control it gave them over the population they deemed most threatening and most needed to perform important *worker bees* functions. I think Daniel Cohen has shared that true science and efficacious treatment for serious *mental illness* was NEVER at issue–because, obviously, if it was–science being what it is–defined. and not open to the whiz bang interpretations of psychiatry– WE WOULD have abandoned psychiatric treatments right out of the starting gate– MOST were harmful– effective? a crap shoot. Now, how to we reign in this beast..??

    Bless his heart, Dr. Breggin does have some note worthy strategies– for holding psychiatry’s heels to the fire ; the legally mandating reporting is one– Perhaps you should listen to this segment on his radio show that he shared on a blog published here in support of the first international BAN ECT event- Ted Chabinski on the Dr. Breggin Hour, April 8 2015. Breggin makes a compelling argument for the reporting and tracking I am talking about here.

    Accurate reporting, to me is the multidisciplinary variety– where specialists look over each other’s shoulders and debate, if need be, to determine what has or is happening with a patient. Psychiatry has been doing back room, closed door “let’s just keep our story straight” BS for over a hundred years– passing it off like it was science– like we are the Boston Brahmin’s– , opening our wallets whenever they come up with a new disorder that *they* will treat *medically*–, thereby dismissing all of the socio-economic, cultural, educational – community building NEEDS that are more likely to enhance and improve all of our lives–

    Where are Margie and Norman?? I found historical accounts of the decision to prioritize medicalization of social problems–. Follow the money to the wealthiest families: protestant, white , and very smitten with psychiatry– Yup! Psychiatry sucking our system dry of capital needed for so many worthwhile ventures is NOT the product of a society in need of them– . Psychiatrists protecting their Guild interests goes back to 1917 right here in Boston.

    Did I Mention the David Healy is a Data Medicine expert?? And that probably no psychiatrist in the U.S. is apt to seek or take his advice on anything — at least not publicly. ?? Pity, because he could probably quantify some aspects of ECT- pre and post treatment/*assault* — maybe put some hard science where only mush exists–

    Psychiatry’s achilles heel is medical , scientific evidence and its application to clinical practice– Calling out the hair brined stuff that they want to pass off as *latest technology* — like the APP reported on here by Healy–. A successful approach might be a matter of exposing the glaring lack of science–though I now it is hard not to just go for the lack of common sense element–. the thing is, for the past one hundred years, psychiatrists have been telling us we cannot rely on our common sense and that doing so– is a sign of *serious mental illness*–

    I want to STOP having ridiculous no win arguments with these folks– and get down to straight up proven methods –SHOW ME THE SCIENCE– or I will just show up on your doorstep with my own damn clip board… A trip across their door step will definitely be required with this approach…

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    • Katie,
      You suggested I listen to the segment with TED Chabasinski on the Dr. Breggin hour he shared on a blog in MIA. I did that; it reinforced my view that ECT is a barbaric travesty that needs to be banned. Both men are abolitionists. Any reference to “reporting and tracking” is framed in the light of the very least that could be done to try to stop this scourge.
      I suggest you watch the video by Breggin on the same blog : “Simple Truth 10: ELectroshock is Brain Trauma”. See what you glean that is not tied to a bigger picture or philosophical debate that wanders into history lessons. Human cost, human suffering.

      Did you actually write: “Pity, because he (Healy) could probably quantify some aspects of ECT- pre and post treatment/*assault*-
      Maybe put some hard science where only MUSH exists—“???
      Seriously? Well, the only part of this that makes any sense is the use of the word *assault*. Yes, DATA is important.
      In 1977, John Friedberg, neurologist wrote in the American Journal of Psychiatry: “Like other insults to the brain, ECT produces EEG abnormalities… The potency of ECT as an amnestic exceeds that of severe closed head injury with coma.” Friedberg reviewed the ECT DATA from 6 states that at the time had mandated reporting of adverse effects of ECT and found “evidence of brain power damage and memory loss.”
      And Max Fink, pro-ECT advocate and researcher stated in 1958: “From the DATA available, it is probable that the biochemical basis of convulsive therapy is similar to that of craniocerebral trauma…the EEG effect of repeated convulsions in the development of…slow brain wave activity, occasionally with spike activity which is similar to that observed in severe brain trauma.”
      In 1966 Fink cited his own research (data) again indicating “there is a relation between clinical improvement and the production of brain damage or an altered state of brain function.” A 1978 article by Fink in the official journal of the Psychopathology Association noted: “The principal complications of ECT are death, brain damage, memory impairment and spontaneous s seizures. The complications are similar to head trauma to which ECT has been compared.” (So, why is THIS not listed on the consent forms? I guess bc then, ethically, doctors could not “administer” it.)
      And 36 years later, Read and Fosse (2013) looked at the data and scientific studies and wrote: “Based on its pattern of brain effects, we suggest ECT can be conceptualized and understood as severe stress or brain trauma.”

      So, how will documenting, reporting, and tracking be of any benefit if the outcomes are denied and the same kind of “spin” is used by pro-ECT docs as is used by people spinning Study 329??
      What kind of insult is it when Healy and Shorter’s book contains the statement:”In informed circles, serious memory loss has seldom been considered real.”??
      For the 0.9 out of 10 people who felt a benefit from ECT (Bentall and Read), we should continue to offer what has been called equal to “craniocerebral trauma” by its proponents as a “healing option”?

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      • @truth,

        Reporting and tracking is — at the very least, accountability. Breggin emphasizes that the this partly the reason it is difficult to engage the public sector- especially political reps. Reporting and tracking means no longer relying on the PR from psychiatrists who are promoting ECT in the U.S.– and it means evaluating outcomes from a medical, not exclusively psychiatric perspective. So, where is the *movement* in terms of accomplishing a demand for accountability?

        I referred BPD to this link on Healy’s blog:

        I just reread it, and reaffirmed the puzzling evidence that ECT can be administered in a manner that puts it on even par with any risky invasive medical procedure–AND, that people who attain benefit from ECT can, and do offer the best reason to consider this a complex issue– more a matter of how and when it is prescribed– and how invested and accountable the psychiatrists are who recommend this as a *treatment* to *fully informed* patients who actually still do choose it. It needs to be noted and emphasized again, that the U.K. differs from our practice, standards and results — for many reasons that also describe why Dr. Healy is sought and recommended by *patients* who have reported positive results from ECT– a few of his patients offered their experience on this blog, where I commented as well.

        You want to deny any benefit is possible– yet, I know people who claim otherwise– and am still hesitant to recommend or endorse it, but I sure as hell will not condone banning ECT or trashing Dr. Healy– anymore than I condone the banning of a certain distinguished member of the psychiatric survivor community- on this site! Robert Whitaker is a brilliant human being, as prone to error as any human being. I think he got to wrong on both counts– the latter being a matter, I personally feel, of his having been hoodwinked and bullied.

        Maybe you don’t want to wade into the complexity of respecting everyone’s opinions and right to choose– but unless you suffer through that arduous process, you risk harming some people and unjustly defaming others. My convictions are not limited to certain issues under certain circumstances– everyone means, everyone– and all the time, means no exceptions.

        There is plenty you can do to express the outrage you personally feel about ECT that harms no one- 1) You can openly share your views and 2) you can work on the first step toward publicizing everything that is currently unknowable– reporting and tracking- with medical oversight.

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        • Katie,
          Thanks for the response. I wonder if you can clarify the comment regarding Robert Whitaker, “wrong on both counts”, and “hoodwinked and bullied”?

          I have no desire to “trash” anyone; the “data” gleaned and the remarks of “experts” like Fink spell out that ECT is brain injury/ craniocerebral trauma. That some benefit from minor brain injury, selectively and carefully applied is certainly a mystery. I do not think the “benefit” to the very few is worth the Russian Roulette risk to the many, the majority of which are not ever truly informed. Every consent form I have reviewed takes pains to minimize, hide, misinform, and mislead the patient as to the true risks of shock, presenting it in the most benign light possible. It is PR and false advertising at its best. I think Marilyn Rice stated: “I am not opposed to ECT; I am opposed to lying about ECT.”

          As Olhead said, some people perceive benefit from “self-mutilation” and might speak positively about it, but that doesn’t mean it should be offered up as a “treatment” doctors provide.
          I have attempted to “do” something regarding ECT in my own health region. The “investigation” into the procedure yielded little. I had pointed out the flaws in the consent document, the lack of protocols, the lack of pre- and post-cognitive testing, the failure to keep records and to do followup, etc. The bioethicist in my region recommended that changes be made. Outcome? Nothing. The “psychiatric leadership team” said what they were doing fell within the “guidelines” set out by the Canadian Psychiatric Association. I pursued the issue with someone in the Ministry. He has basically parroted the “safe and effective”, won’t tell “medical specialists” what “treatments” they should deliver or how. So much for attempts to enforce change or protect the vulnerable. People are not willing to risk their jobs or complain or criticize when this “procedure” is used on relatively few “mental patients” who are deemed dispensable.

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        • There is plenty you can do to express the outrage you personally feel about ECT that harms no one- 1) You can openly share your views and 2) you can work on the first step toward publicizing everything that is currently unknowable…

          Expressing “personal” outrage that “harms no one”?

          So in other words, her opposition to ECT is a “personal” issue (i.e. not objective), is that what you’re saying? Could you elaborate on how “expressing outrage” could harm someone in the first place ?
          It appears that your emotion around your perceived need to “protect” Dr. Healy from “bashing” (i.e. criticism) is getting in the way of unbiased reasoning.

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        • Reporting and tracking is — at the very least, accountability.

          The German Nazis also kept very detailed records of their atrocities,; it didn’t result in accountability.

          ECT can be administered in a manner that puts it on even par with any risky invasive medical procedure

          Except that it’s NOT a medical procedure, any more than anything else psychiatry does in the name of such.

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  10. I have seen the way many of the comment sections on Dr Healy’s posts have been comandeered by the ECT debate. I have never felt the urge to wade in though; as a fellow Irishman, Dr Healy has shown time and again that he’s well able to speak up for himself. He has addressed the ECT issue many, many times and I would wager that he has never ever strapped some poor victim down to administer ECT without consent. I am wading in here today though, to give my own tuppence worth.

    Firsly, let me acknowledge that I am absolutely biased. I know Dr Dredd (aka Healy) and he is one of the nicest, kindest, intelligent men on the planet. I first contacted him in 2009 following my son’s SSRI-induced death, when no-one else was prepared to put their heads above the parapet to opine either way on the possible adverse effects of psychiatric drugs. Psychiatry was, and still is, very powerful in Ireland, so he knew he was in for a tongue-lashing, which incidentally, he got in spades. It seems that if he believes in something, peer pressure or academic bullying will not sway him – and rightly so. If he says that ECT works for some, then I assume it can work for some (and can cause harm to others), just like SSRIs work for some and have killed many others, like my son.

    Secondly, there are underlying issues within academia that we don’t fully understand. I attended a conference in Cork some years back which Dr Healy was speaking at. There was a heckler in the audience who was rude and not a little obnoxious to him. The heckler, whom I knew a little of, kept shouting about ECT, despite this issue having nothing to do with the conference programme. It was uncomfortable viewing for everyone but Dr Healy remained calm and explained (once again – in detail) his stance on ECT. So why am I telling you this? The young heckler contacted me some time later to say he didn’t realise how much Dr Healy had done for my family (mountains of work, time and effort – all done free of charge). It transpired that a well-known global player in SSRI-induced harm had e-mailed this young man beforehand and sent him a link to a book Dr Healy co-authored on ECT – very kind I’m sure.

    Using incitement of vulnerable people for ones’ own gain, by a person (sorry I can’t name) one would assume to know better, seemed extraordinarily cruel to me and the total opposite to the kindness shown by Dr Healy. It was certainly a valuable lesson to me.

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  11. I have read this entire thread, and think it is time to bring this particular discussion to a close after I try to respond to some of the comments here.

    First, I should note that I know David Healy well. As a journalist, I feel like I owe him a debt of gratitude. When my book Mad in America was published, and I was mostly getting roundly criticized by psychiatrists (or really just personally trashed in some reviews), David Healy–and I didn’t know him at that time–wrote a very favorable review. That took courage for him to break ranks with this professional tribe. It was also in that book that I wrote about electroshock, as part of psychiatry’s history, and did so by describing it as one of several “brain damaging” therapies embraced in the 1930s and 1940s. So he did not respond to my writing there, critically of electroshock, with criticism of me, or a dismissal of the larger history told in Mad in America. He remained open to the larger history I had told.

    I then interviewed him when I was writing Anatomy of an Epidemic, precisely because of his views about tapering people from psychiatric drugs. He also provided what I think was the best possible blurb for Anatomy of an Epidemic, when he wrote: “If psychiatry wants to retain its credibility with the public, it will now have to engage the scientific argument at the core of this cogently and elegantly written book. ” That took guts to write, to publicly challenge his own profession in that way.

    Next, I have a small financial interest in RXRISK, meaning I invested a small amount of money to help it get started, and agreed to serve in an advisory role. I think RX RISK is an invaluable resource for researching adverse effects of psychiatric drugs, and we feature it prominently on our drug info page.

    Now, more generally, I think that Healy’s writings–as they come from a psychiatrist/researcher who knows the research literature so well, and is fighting in so many ways to make the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs known–add a great deal to the MIA website. His is an important voice.

    Next, I want to reiterate what one of the commenters writes above. He does his best to personally respond to those individuals–including many psychiatric survivors–who write him personally asking for help related to harm from psychiatric drugs, and has also filed depositions and other papers in their behalf. He has served as an expert witness in civil cases against drug companies. All of this speaks well of him, as one who is battling the Goliath, and doing so at considerable personal cost.

    As for his writings on ECT, I think they are more nuanced than many understand.. He wrote certain chapters of the book with Shorter, and Shorter wrote others, and it is unfortunate that the authorship of those chapters are not better identified. His position on ECT should be based on his own writings, and not what others have written about him. That said, I do disagree with him about what the scientific literature has to say about ECT, in terms of its “efficacy” and its harmful effects on the brain. So be it. I should add that Healy has also sought to engage his critics on ECT on his RX RISK site. So he has engaged in a discussion, and that speaks well of him. He hasn’t shut his critics down.

    As for the discussion of ECT here, on this thread, a couple of points. First, I think David Healy often does read the comments, but he doesn’t respond here because he thinks, in part, this is a section that belongs to the commenters. Let the readers have their say. He has never asked us to shield him from this criticism for his writings on ECT. So here is how it works for Healy: Kermit Cole, our blogs editor, cross-posts his posts from RX RISK that he finds of value for our readers, and then Healy often gets criticized by our readers, and Healy says he is okay with that (the criticism.) That takes a big spirit.

    All of which is to say, I think having Healy’s posts appear here is of value to MIA readers, and I think too, if you look at how he responds to individuals who come to him asking for advice or help about psychiatric drugs, you see a tremendous generosity. Kermit Cole has said all this more eloquently than I, but I just wanted to explain, in my words, why we run Healy’s posts, and believe they add in important ways to this website.

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