The FDA Wants to Approve ECT Without Testing


On December 29, 2015, the FDA proposed reclassifying ECT, essentially approving of its routine clinical use.  The FDA describes its recommendation as follows:

“… To support reclassification of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Devices into class II (special controls) for severe major depressive episode (MDE) associated with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or Bipolar Disorder (BPD) in patients 18 years of age and older who are treatment-resistant or who require a rapid response due to the severity of their psychiatric or medical condition.”

The FDA is also proposing specific warnings that should go along with the ECT devices.  The strongest of the warnings — “Warning: ECT device use may be associated with: disorientation, confusion, and memory problems” — is grossly inadequate and misleading.

In response to the FDA’s request for responses, I submitted the following statement. I urge others to respond quickly to the FDA’s call for comments. Comments are due by March 28, 2016.

The FDA Should Ban ECT Until It Goes Through Rigorous Testing

            During routine ECT, the passage of the electric current through the brain causes an especially intense grand mal (generalized) convulsion, often accompanied by flat lining of the brain waves on the EEG and always resulting in a coma lasting several minutes or more.  On awakening, the patient suffers from a syndrome associated with traumatic brain injury, including trauma followed by unconsciousness, memory loss, disorientation and confusion.  The results, as with any trauma, grow worse with each exposure, as the ECT series progresses.  

          Therefore, there is no doubt that ECT damages the brain. Each treatment produces clinically obvious devastating acute results, described in many books and articles. The only question is “How complete is recovery?” and there is ample evidence that recovery is often incomplete, commonly leaving the individual with months of retrograde memory loss as well as ongoing cognitive losses. The long-term adverse effects closely parallel those of athletes who endure multiple high-impact concussions.  It is clear that ECT is among the most dangerous treatments used in medicine, surgery or psychiatry. The idea that is has any redeeming benefit continues to lack empirical evidence.  The common claim that it reduces the risk of suicide is not confirmed by a single scientific paper.  In a system of rational medicine, ECT would be banned. 

        In 1985 the NIH Consensus Development Conference on ECT labeled it the “most controversial” treatment in psychiatry (5th attachment).  It noted an average memory loss spanning 10 months (8 before and 2 after the ECT)!  It found no empirical evidence for effectiveness beyond four weeks, which coincides with the period in which acute brain injury renders the individual either euphoric or apathetic, and too neurologically impaired to self-evaluate or to feel strong emotions. The evidence for brain damage has grown since 1985, including the publication of Sackeim’s 2007 long-term study in multiple clinical settings showing a lasting dementia syndrome in many patients (6th attachment). The NIH Consensus Conference conclusions and the Sackeim study, in and of themselves, are sufficient to demonstrate that ECT is highly dangerous and should be banned until it can be thoroughly tested in the manner at least as rigorous as for any new psychiatric medication.

      I recently constructed an extensive free website,  It contains PDFs of dozens of scientific papers with a search mechanism for subjects such as brain damage, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, animal studies, and controlled clinical trials. It also contains my entire 1979 medical book on ECT which remains the most detailed documentation of brain injury.

      A paper that I wrote for the FDA on ECT in 2010 was subsequently published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine (3rd attachment below).  It is a very concise summary of relevant studies.  Also see my jointly authored 2014 peer-reviewed paper on ECT and children, which presents my brief updated review on brain injury (Van Daalen-Smith, et al., 4th attachment.)  My 1986 review on neuropathology of ECT was written on invitation as a scientific presenter at the NIH ECT Consensus Development Conference (2nd attachment).  Along with my 1998 overview of ECT (1st attachment), the two articles and their many citations show that the harmful effects of ECT have been scientifically demonstrable for a long time. 

      As a physician and psychiatrist, I administered ECT in my training and supervised a ward on which it was commonly done.  I have evaluated innumerable cases in which lives have been destroyed.  I was also the medical expert in the first ECT malpractice suit won in trial in the case of a woman with devastating memory loss (Salters v. Palmetto Health Alliance et al.  Court of Common Pleas, Fourth Judicial District, State of South Carolina, County of Richland.  June 2005).  

       There is no scientific basis for the FDA not to ban ECT outright until its safety and efficacy have been tested.  For the FDA to deny that ECT is a very dangerous treatment is unconscionable and can only be explained by the strength of the psychiatric lobby.  

     The ECT issue will be a turning point for the FDA.  Where the need for a thorough study of safety and efficacy cannot be denied, will the FDA be swayed by pressure from professional and industry lobby groups?  Or will the FDA do its duty to ban a traumatic treatment until its safety and efficacy can be tested through maximally stringent approval procedures? At a time when cynicism abounds in regard to the FDA and to psychiatry, the FDA’s decision will provide either a deepening of cynicism or a glimmer of hope.  Meanwhile, if the FDA allows the continuation of ECT, it will be responsible for a continuing epidemic of iatrogenic brain injury.



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


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    • What it really means is more profits. I spoke once to staff members at a hospital where a family member was being treated; they admitted to me that the hospital management was pushing the psychiatrists to use more ECT because it was quite profitable in terms of what they could bill insurers. Once you’ve made the initial investment in the machine, electricity is pretty cheap.

      But yes, on a literal level it means involuntary ECT.

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      • Thank you for posting this. It shows just how far psychiatry is willing to go to keep their guild in power.

        Shock is NOT safer now that they use anesthesia and in fact anesthesia makes things more dangerous since it increases the level or plateau of electricity needed to induce a convulsion. So, you’re actually getting shocked with a higher level of electricity. Now, how does this make it safer than it used to be??????

        This is nothing more than barbaric torture and has absolutely nothing to do with any form of “treatment” at all. The only reason that they think that this man is doing better after being shocked is that he is exhibiting the same kinds of symptoms that people show after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. People with TBI’s will be euphoric or they will be in a stupor after the injury. What that psychiatrist and that so-called “hospital” is doing to this young man is a crime against humanity and they’re getting away with it. This is disgusting. And by the way, ECT costs lots of money so it’s very lucrative for the hospital that uses this torture against people. How many other people on their units are they shocking???

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        • I could induce the same kind of behavior in this young man by taking a baseball bat and smacking him in the head two or three times with it!! Now, should I be able to call “bat smacking” a bona fide “treatment” for so-called “major depression” and aggressive behavior. I’d be aggressive to if I’d been kept in restraints for 69 days in a row! How do they not see that their actions against so-called “patients” are often the cause of the anger and aggression that they receive from them?? This is not rocket science but you would think so when you listen to psychiatrists.

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          • Perhaps I should go to the FDA and propose my new form of “treatment” for people. I’ll call it “bat smacking” and I bet you two to one that the FDA will vote to approve it!

            Sorry, this makes me so angry and I can’t turn loose of it because my grandmother, a wise and very wonderful woman, was murdered by the use of shock treatments. They turned a woman who gardened and painted and taught her grandchildren an appreciation for nature, into a zombie who sat and looked at the floor and chained smoked until she died of a massive stroke. They might as well have taken a pistol and put a bullet in her brain as give her shock as a “treatment”.

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      • Thank you for bringing up this case. I have been involved with this man since he had received 11 ECT treatments. He was obviousl;y cognitively impaired then and now they are applying for the next 12, leading to 54 treatments in 24 weeks. We have appealed to all government agencies that are in place to protect patients from this kind of recklessly aggressive treatment without success. The doctor ios so sure she will get approval to go to FIFTY FOUR that she scheduled the next one that day directly after the tribunal hearing. I am hoping that international pressure might be brought to bear as MindFreedom have done in the past, but I fear this 40 year old man will die before help arrives. Yes, it is enormously distressing and completely frustrating for those of us who know the situation first hand. After going to human rights lawyers, the Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid etc etc I threw my hands in the air and cried, “Is everyone’s name Pontius Pilate?” That was in October nearly 30 ECT treatments ago.

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  1. ECT is really old. It’s a method to mutilate and “lobotomize” citizens. It induces “vegetable” states as if the person literally had a bullet put in their brain and it got rid of them mentally. They used it to use it more, then they abandoned it in many hospitals and areas of the United States because it was being used mostly to torture and paralyze citizens.

    It does not treat depression. It’s used to damage the brain and body, which can make it so a persons personality, mental state, and function disappears, in a negative way. They cannot even experience emotions or have thoughts of their own, and their function becomes limited.

    It has applications in mind control to remove memories and history from a person entirely. They will be unable to even remember their past. It’s been used before to reprogram and mind control citizens. Not many citizens have walked away and felt they were cured by it. Many feel upset it was used on them. It was used in such fashion during MKULTRA;

    My neuropsychologist Dr. Purna C Datta told me about the 1980s and 1990s when he came to America. Specifically, he landed in California, and he discovered entire rooms full of patients who’d been tortured and mutilated with ECT and excessive meds. The patients were turned into vegetables and could not walk, talk, eat, or use he bathroom on their own. There were rooms full of these patients who had to wear diapers and sat in chairs all day where staff were forced to change diapers and do various work including feeding and putting the patients to bed. He began and successfully got ECT use ended, and he got medication use greatly reduced. Patients quality of life returned and over about two decades of time, patient quality of care improved.

    A few hospitals he worked in include: NAPA State Hospital, Stockton Developmental Center, and as a senior psychologist for the California Youth Authority managing kids in foster care.

    Since he retired as a senior managing psychologist in 2010 he told me conditions sort of started reverting to going down hill, and several colleagues of his reported as such and either quit their positions or retired to get out what was going on.

    Can you imagine that you have a fully functioning human, then you take them and give them excessive drugs, ECT – they turn into vegetables, cannot speak, function, do work, all their hobbies are done, they can’t use the bathroom normally .. can you tell us why that is what the FDA wants?

    Here’s the specific conditions induced by ECT: chronic traumatic encephalopathy, traumatic brain injury, lobotomy and concussion.

    I saw one patient at least at the Oregon State Hospital who was retaliated against and “done in” by staff who before was completely normal. When I met her she couldn’t speak, rocked back and forth in her chair, mumbled, could not hold a conversation, made all sorts of noise and was in a diaper.. staff had to bath, clothe, and feed her .. But some fellow patients knew her when she came in, and she had family, money, could walk, talk, etc.. staff did it all too her when she was merely rebellious and staff wanted to kill her over it, offering her nothing else treatment wise.. the system is sick…. I do believe they used combo of drugs and ECT on her (ECT not used at OSH any more though- they use drugs exclusively).

    We should be moving to ban all medical-model interventions on citizens as a 1st amendment violation.

    Todd Giffen
    [email protected]

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    • Thank you, Dr. Breggin, for all you’ve done to speak out against ECT, and the toxic psychiatric drugs. Truly, I’m grateful for you functioning as the “conscience of psychiatry,” and all your work. But know an entire industry truly should have more than one soul within it, who has a conscience (and am grateful other psychiatrists within are slowly waking up, but personally believe at this late date, repentance, and proper amends will be required for their forgiveness, especially given the reality they were legally required to have malpractice insurance to pay for their errors).

      As one whose supposed to be a “judge,” according to 40 hours of psychological career testing. Who learned of the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions,” essentially the psychiatric industry’s faustian bargains with the paternalistic religions and medical community, which have led to the tremendous power that the psychiatric industry has today, the hard way. I will say, I’m shocked and heartbroken so many within our current society didn’t learn from WWII, that making up “mental illnesses,” then torturing and killing innocent people based upon these scientifically invalid “mental illnesses,” was appalling and inappropriate behavior, by the Nazis.

      “I saw one patient … who was retaliated against and ‘done in’ by staff who before was completely normal. When I met her she couldn’t speak, rocked back and forth in her chair, mumbled, could not hold a conversation, made all sorts of noise and was in a diaper.. staff had to bath, clothe, and feed her .. But some fellow patients knew her when she came in, and she had family, money, could walk, talk, etc.. staff did it all to her when she was merely rebellious and staff wanted to kill her over it, offering her nothing else treatment wise.. the system is sick….”

      Yes, the “system” is sick, and working for the wrong people. I was “rebellious,” in that I had politely turned down a job offer to manage money, as my father had done, solely for my now ex-religion. Which had turned itself into a pedophile covering up religion, way back when I was in high school.

      I do so hope all the psychiatric practitioners wake up, and realize psychiatry’s lies and murders were wrong during WWII. And they’re still unacceptable human behavior today. A slice of wisdom? Or is it actually true my life is a “credible fictional story,” as my former psychiatrist claimed?

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    • No it won’t let non-members in, but I’m an ex professional. But I’ll tell you most of it’s coming from Charles Kellner, ECT GURU extraordinaire. He has, at times, been employed by manufacturers, he’s a mate of Max Fink’s, convener of CORE ECT research group from Duke University, head of ECT at Mt Sinai in New York, PROLIFIC publisher of “research”. Gets a heap of funding, maybe more now that Harry Sackheim has faded a bit. He can fill 3-4 pages with anatomical jargon that says that ECT impacts on all this and one day we’ll find out why that works. This is the kind of pseudoscience that makes an assumption/claim, that it works, then sets out to try to prove that. The reverse of real science that poses an idea, then sets out to disprove it. Here’s a list of pseudoscience principles:
      1 – Hostile to criticism, rather than embracing criticism as a mechanism of self-correction

      2 – Works backward from desired results through motivated reasoning
3 – Cherry picks evidence
4 – Relies on low grade evidence when it supports their belief, but will dismiss rigorous evidence if it is inconvenient

      5 – Core principles untested or unproven, often based on single case or anecdote

      6 – Utilizes vague, imprecise, or ambiguous terminology, often to mimic technical jargon

      7 – Has the trappings of science, but lacks the true methods of science
8 – Invokes conspiracy arguments to explain lack of mainstream acceptance (Galileo syndrome)
9 – Lacks caution and humility by making grandiose claims from flimsy evidence
      10 – Practitioners often lack proper training and present that as a virtue as it makes them more ‘open’
      See: Mesmerism, parapsychology, astrology, etc, all far more benign than psychiatry.

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    • These are the references cited in the article that may be used as new evidence of “safe and effective”.
      1. Baldinger P, Lotan A, Frey R, et al. Neurotransmitters and electroconvulsive therapy. J ECT. 2014; 30:116-121.

      (old) 2. Sanacora G, Mason GF, Rothman DL, et al. Increased cortical GABA concentrations in depressed patients receiving ECT. Am J Psychiatry. 2003;160:577-579.

      (old) 3. Michael N, Erfurth A, Ohrmann P, et al. Metabolic changes within the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex occurring with electroconvulsive therapy in patients with treatment resistant unipolar depression. Psychol Med. 2003;33:1277-1284.

      4. Merkl A, Schubert F, Quante A, et al. Abnormal cingulate and prefrontal cortical neurochemistry in major depression after electroconvulsive therapy. Biol Psychiatry. 2011;69:772-779.

      (old) 5. Pfleiderer B, Michael N, Erfurth A, et al. Effective electroconvulsive therapy reverses glutamate/glutamine deficit in the left anterior cingulum of unipolar depressed patients. Psychiatry Res. 2003;122:185-192.

      6. Haskett RF. Electroconvulsive therapy’s mechanism of action: neuroendocrine hypotheses. J ECT. 2014;30:107-110.

      7. Farzan F, Boutros NN, Blumberger DM, Daskalakis ZJ. What does the electroencephalogram tell us about the mechanisms of action of ECT in major depressive disorders? J ECT. 2014;30:98-106.

      8. Bouckaert F, Sienaert P, Obbels J, et al. ECT: its brain-enabling effects: a review of electroconvulsive therapy–induced structural brain plasticity. J ECT. 2014;30:143-151.

      9. Dukart, Regen F, Kherif F, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy-induced brain plasticity determines therapeutic outcome in mood disorders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111:1156-1161.

      10. Nordanskog P, Dahlstrand U, Larsson MR, et al. Increase in hippocampal volume after electroconvulsive therapy in patients with depression: a volumetric magnetic resonance imaging study. J ECT. 2010;26:62-67.

      11. Tendolkar I, van Beek M, van Oostrom I, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy increases hippocampal and amygdala volume in therapy refractory depression: a longitudinal pilot study. Psychiatry Res. 2013;214:197-203.

      12. Joshi SH, Espinoza RT, Pirnia R, et al. Structural plasticity of the hippocampus and amygdala induced by electroconvulsive therapy in major depression. 2015 Mar 5; [Epub ahead of print].

      13. Abbott CC, Gallegos P, Rediske N, et al. A review of longitudinal electroconvulsive therapy: neuroimaging investigations. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2014;27:33-46.

      (old) 14. Michael N, Erfurth A, Ohrmann P, et al. Neurotrophic effects of electroconvulsive therapy: a proton magnetic resonance study of the left amygdalar region in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003;28:720-725.

      (old) 15. Ende G, Braus DF, Walter S, et al. The hippocampus in patients treated with electroconvulsive therapy: a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000;57:937-943.

      16. McCormick LM, Yamada T, Yeh M, et al. Antipsychotic effect of electroconvulsive therapy is related to normalization of subgenual cingulate theta activity in psychotic depression. J Psychiatr Res. 2009; 43:553-560.

      17. Perrin JS, Merz S, Bennett DM, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy reduces frontal cortical connectivity in severe depressive disorder. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109:5464-5468.

      18. Abbott CC, Lemke NT, Gopal S, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy response in major depressive disorder: a pilot functional network connectivity resting state fMRI investigation. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:10.

      19. Beall EB, Malone DA, Dale RM, et al. Effects of electroconvulsive therapy on brain functional activation and connectivity in depression. J ECT. 2012; 28:234-241.

      (old) 20. Christ M, Michael N, Hihn H, et al. Auditory processing of sine tomes before, during and after ECT in depressed patients by fMRI. J Neural Transm. 2008; 115:1199-1211.

      21. Andrade C. A primer for the conceptualization of the mechanism of action of electroconvulsive therapy, 1: defining the question. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75:e410-e412.

      22. Andrade C. A primer for the conceptualization of the mechanism of action of electroconvulsive therapy, 2: organizing the information. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75:e548-e551.

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      • Let’s look at these. Basically the underlying core premise here is that depression is a physiological, neurological brain disorder despite the fact that there is not and NEVER has been a shred of evidence that this is the case! Deleting everything before 2011, so we’re starting from an unproven, untested base. So what have we?
        Baldinger P, Lotan A, Frey R, et al. Neurotransmitters and electroconvulsive therapy. J ECT. 2014
        -There is no evidence that neurotransmitters have anything to do with depression.
        Merkl A, Schubert F, Quante A, et al. Abnormal cingulate and prefrontal cortical neurochemistry in major depression after electroconvulsive therapy. Biol Psychiatry. 2011.
        -This just says that abnormal neurochemistry is a consequence of trauma to neural tissues.
        Haskett RF. Electroconvulsive therapy’s mechanism of action: neuroendocrine hypotheses. J ECT. 2014
        -Have there been large sample, replicated, randomised, placebo, trials to support this?
        Farzan F, Boutros NN, Blumberger DM, Daskalakis ZJ. What does the electroencephalogram tell us about the mechanisms of action of ECT in major depressive disorders? J ECT. 2014
        -Not much. The EEG can only record the electrical activity in the brain. It cannot specify activity directly linked to depression or any other emotional condition.
        Bouckaert F, Sienaert P, Obbels J, et al. ECT: its brain-enabling effects: a review of electroconvulsive therapy–induced structural brain plasticity. J ECT. 2014;30:143-151.
        – It is a truism that ECT has structural effects on the brain. The assumption that this is brain enabling is conjecture. What other effects are at play here?
        Dukart, Regen F, Kherif F, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy-induced brain plasticity determines therapeutic outcome in mood disorders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111:1156-1161.
        -Plasticity & links to depression? ECT induced plasticity may be the result of many variables including the placebo effect.
        Tendolkar I, van Beek M, van Oostrom I, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy increases hippocampal and amygdala volume in therapy refractory depression: a longitudinal pilot study. Psychiatry Res. 2013;214:197-203.
        -This may indeed be true, however there is scant, if any, evidence that increased hippocampal volume is involved in depression. Is there a control group of non medicated depressed people or others with reduced/increased Hippocampal Volume? If it IS a therapeutic response what happens to this increased volume after a few weeks when the patient relapses?
        Joshi SH, Espinoza RT, Pirnia R, et al. Structural plasticity of the hippocampus and amygdala induced by electroconvulsive therapy in major depression. 2015 Mar 5; [Epub ahead of print].(I.e. BEFORE chance of review)
        -Again, evidence of ECT induced structural damage.
        Abbott CC, Gallegos P, Rediske N, et al. A review of longitudinal electroconvulsive therapy: neuroimaging investigations. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2014;27:33-46.
        -What happened to claims that neuroimaging has never shown structural damage?
        (old) 14. Michael N, Erfurth A, Ohrmann P, et al. Neurotrophic effects of electroconvulsive therapy: a proton magnetic resonance study of the left amygdalar region in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003;28:720-725.
        -There are serious limits to using MRI and fMRI to predict behaviour based on any observations found in such examinations. Changes in structure and activity may be observed but interpretations are extremely speculative.
        Perrin JS, Merz S, Bennett DM, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy reduces frontal cortical connectivity in severe depressive disorder. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109:5464-5468.
        -First we have to establish that cortical connectivity is directly related to, let alone causal in depression. This was the idea behind ALL the `brain disabling therapies’ of the 1930s. All this says is that is causes gross brain damage.
        Abbott CC, Lemke NT, Gopal S, et al. Electroconvulsive therapy response in major depressive disorder: a pilot functional network connectivity resting state fMRI investigation. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:10.
        -Again the assumption that `connectivity’ is a factor in depression. The `theory’ behind lobotomy.
        Beall EB, Malone DA, Dale RM, et al. Effects of electroconvulsive therapy on brain functional activation and connectivity in depression. J ECT. 2012; 28:234-241.
        – `Connectivity’ again?.
        Andrade C. A primer for the conceptualization of the mechanism of action of electroconvulsive therapy, 1: defining the question. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75:e410-e412.
        -Now THAT would be a good idea!
        Andrade C. A primer for the conceptualization of the mechanism of action of electroconvulsive therapy, 2: organizing the information. J Clin Psychiatry. 2014;75:e548-e551.
        -Don’t bother.
        Of all 15 studies, 13 are published only in specialist psychiatric magazines, 5 in the Journal of ECT, – only 2 were published in open company. i.e. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. NONE have been peer reviewed & the J ECT, Biol Psychiatry, Neuropharmapsychology and J Geriatric Psychiatry magazines/publications are not even listed with Pub Peer.
        With the collapse of the `chemical imbalance’ idea and the realisation that brain damage can now be seen on scans, there had to be another rationalisation for the continued use of a lucrative but brain damaging procedure. Two years ago when I saw the Perrin study (2012) followed by a number of fairly tentative small studies on `connectivity’, I realised that the hunt was on. Find something that sounds scientific, no matter how vague or far fetched, or get sued. What better than to say that the brain damage that ECT was designed to cause in 1938, is really a GOOD THING.
        To the best of my knowledge nobody knows what `connections’ do what to what, what are too many, not enough or just right `connections’? This is `three bears’ science, exactly the same as `chemical imbalance’ was. What was too much, too little, or just right, serotonin. And of course how does the blunt instrument that is ECT tease out which connections might be cut, and which ones you need or don’t need to function properly?
        Then there’s the `pathway’ theory, just a step away, but wide open to lots of lovely anatomical jargon that very few readers can, or would bother to read, but that looks VERY impressive. “See what I know, aren’t I clever?”.
        Oh, and the `inflammation’ idea of depression, that maybe ECT’s `neurogenesis/neuroplasticity’ (embrace the jargon) effect, which is the result of trauma anyway, is able to overcome this? Working `backwards from desired results through motivated reasoning’. The old, `aspirin cures headaches so headaches must be caused by a lack of aspirin’ thingy.
        Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I would suggest that none of the above have used a control group of any kind, much less placebo ECT, none have weeded out the placebo effect, of `real’ ECT none are randomised controlled, or double blind or have any other real science method including a NULL hypothesis.
        They really DO have to come up with SOME evidence that the `connections’ and `pathways’ have anything to do with depression before they expect us to take any of this seriously.
        Thus ALL of these fit snugly into pseudoscience, which is the search, NOT for the TRUTH, but for support for an idea. It smacks of creationism, astrology, phrenology, parapsychology, clairvoyance etc. And some of those are true believers as no doubt are some of these. But it ain’t science.
        `Robert T. Carroll stated, in part, “Pseudoscientists claim to base their theories on empirical evidence, and they may even use some scientific methods, though often their understanding of a controlled experiment is inadequate. Many pseudoscientists relish being able to point out the consistency of their ideas with known facts or with predicted consequences, but they do not recognize that such consistency is not proof of anything. It is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition that a good scientific theory be consistent with the facts.’

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  2. Thank you for all the work you do!

    I know this is a bit off topic but I wondered what you thought about “transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)”.

    Is this the same kind of thing as ECT or is it a gentler procedure? It seems to be something coming up a lot now in new research and I wasn’t sure if it was an old wolf in new sheep’s clothing, or something less invasive.

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  3. Shock is torture. I think shock shows us what psychiatry really offers…amnesia, brain damage, blunted emotions, reduced cognitive abilities. Take the memories away, take the pain away,…something like that, anyway. I guess turning people/”patients” into vegetables is “therapeutic,” right? Right.

    Heavy shock can be worse than a lobotomy, from what I’ve read. Lobotomies were/are terrible, but the brain damage is more targeted. Shock somebody enough and they have fried brain cells all over the place. And then, of course, there’s “maintenance ECT” for the treatment and/or prevention of “relapses.” And ongoing Rx drugs. It just gets better…

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  4. Thank-you for all you do, Dr. Breggin. It is unbelievable how a lunatic procedure like shock has not been banned, kicked to the curb with psychiatry’s other cures.
    How anyone calling him/ herself a doctor can advocate for and administer this twisted evil form of torture is beyond me. Shock causes brain damage, decimates cognitive abilities, destroys personality, results in suicide. And all of this is clear to the prominent shock docs who continue to pretend they cannot read and are research retarded.
    The book you wrote in 1979 should have pounded a stake through the black heart of this barbaric human rights violation. WTF is it going to take?
    Really, what will it take?? At 11 comments per 400, I conclude that hardly anyone cares about shock, its past and future victims.
    I see drug damage as reparable in the majority of cases, even when toxic drugs are ingested for decades in some cases. With ECT there is no return to baseline. In two or three weeks, 3 ECT per week, a person can have their lives permanently destroyed. As I asked re Lauren’s article: where is the outrage??
    Why aren’t some high profile
    shrinks voicing their opposition and demanding a ban on shock? Is it just you and Dr. Fisher who are willing to do the right and moral thing?

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  5. Lest people think that “all is lost,” and ECT now has a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from the FDA: That’s not exactly the case. This decision is limited to “ECT devices” — NOT “the routine clinical use” of ECT. There’s a difference.

    A screwy little item in the law called Regulation 510(k) allows the FDA to approve devices without testing if they are “substantially similar” to other devices already on the market. FDA now wants to approve any ECT device that’s not too different from older ones. That’s bad enough. But the bigger questions: Is ECT use worth the risks? What conditions, if any, does it really help, and for how long? What limits or precautions should there be? Those are all still up for grabs.

    (I’m not for banning ECT but I’m not real fond of it either, to put it mildly. My biggest worries: Sloppy and biased studies, mainly in outlets like the “Journal of ECT.” People getting ECT against their will! “Maintenance” ECT, where people undergo dozens or even hundreds of seizures over time. ECT for “disorderly conduct” due to dementia, psychosis, autism or any other reason.)

    Here’s an analogy: Companies have used 510(k) to get new artificial hips approved as “similar” to older ones. That should stop. It’s way too lax. But does FDA “approval” of any artificial hip tell you as a patient that you should get one? Hell no! It’s still a major operation with various risks and lots of pain. Artificial hips are never 100% as good as a healthy original, and sometimes they fail outright. To get an artificial hip is still a terrible idea if less drastic treatments might help. If a doctor offers you one, always get a second opinion.

    I’m not saying ECT has as good a track record as artificial hips. Not by a long shot! But it’s good to know where we stand. So, let’s not tell anyone that the FDA has “endorsed ECT.” That might give it a selling point it doesn’t deserve.

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    • ECT is pretty much never really “voluntary” bc the real risks and dangers are minimized or not addressed, the patient is often too distressed or desperate to be weighing out the options, and after just one head injury their cognition is impaired too much to keep agreeing to continue. They usually blanket sign for a series of 6-12.
      They are told NOT to “make any major decisions” while getting ECT (selling a house? Getting a divorce? Adopting a puppy??) which seems rather stupid if they are obviously making decisions about whether to keep having ECT/TBI!

      Yes, multiple ways to screw up and maim the distressed and hurting…Maintenance ECT, involuntary ECT, ECT for autism, dementia (big irony here), improperly “diagnosed” (not even valid) “bipolar” or “treatment resistant” depression. The money just keeps rolling in…
      If I had needed a hip replacement, I would mentally have been in a position to THINK, to weigh alternatives, to seek a second opinion. Not the case when you are mentally unhinged, drugged, and have 2 doctors agreeing two “adequate””drug trial” failures of antidepressants equals “TRD” which equals ECT is our next suggestion…a ridiculously low standard to enforce. Yes, level II, the “benefits” in this case outweigh the risks? Nope.
      Invariably, people sick enough to be considering ECT are in no shape to be deciding about ECT given the lies/misinformation presented to them. They are often vulnerable older women with no one to advocate on their behalf.
      The FDA, based on the testimonies and evidence presented in 2011, should have BANNED shock. It cannot be “made” safe; it is a crapshoot of whether one experiences minor or major brain injuries. It is like that box of (differently poisoned) chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.
      Obviously the treatment for an injured or “aching” leg is not to smash it with a bat several times, but the “treatment” for a distressed or “hurting” brain/spirit/heart is to electrocute someone, causing brain injury and grand mal seizures?? Where is the common sense?

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      • Don’t know much — but I know it is not ECT. It involves much, much smaller amounts of electricity, not enough to induce a seizure, and you can do it while fully conscious. There’s even commercial devices you can buy, with electrodes you fasten to your scalp, to “self-treat” at home.

        The question is, does it work? It’s been touted for helping with depression and anxiety; also to improve concentration and other cognitive talents. Obviously it would be a big moneymaker if it could be shown to work — but so far the FDA has not approved it. The same goes for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (same thing with magnetic stimulation), which various companies have poured money into for years, getting leading psychiatrists to do study after study. I believe that’s still an experimental treatment; I know insurance still won’t pay for it.

        Since they don’t require anesthesia, it’s been easier to do studies on these gizmos using “placebo” or “sham” treatments — say, a totally inactive gadget that sits on your head, vibrating and making interesting noises. These studies have not shown big gains from TMS or TDCS, I picked up this article from the BBC that suggests tCDS may have a little more effect than TMS — but also might not be all that safe. Take a look:

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    • My understanding is that the proposed reclassification would mean that for the specified indications ECT would not have to undergo premarket approval, i.e. the manufacturers would not have to demonstrate safety and efficacy as required for class III medical devices. So the very questions that you say are ‘up for grabs’ (I suspect that Dr Breggin and others would dispute this) would never have to be systematically investigated. Technically speaking, this is different from approval or ‘endorsement’, but its practical effect is the same.

      ECT has been defended for years and years by the ritual parading of success stories, people who say that their lives were saved by this treatment. Why is this standard acceptable for ECT but not for other medical treatments? Vioxx would still be on the market if we applied this approach across the board.

      You make a good point about maintenance ECT. I know someone who is having monthly maintenance ECT, which I’d previously never heard of. This development alone is one very good reason why the proposed reclassification should be strongly opposed.

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        • It was a sad loss for many when Thalidomide was withdrawn, too. IT helped many people including the women whose infants were so shockingly damaged. The male population and post menopausal women must still be in mourning after such a precipitate reaction on the part of the government. There were a couple of stents (for arterial expansion) that only killed a few people, and so many other slightly dangerous devices helped SOME people, that are sadly missed as well. It was just bad luck if you were one of the ones they hurt or killed. And then there were breast implants. They were mostly okay, and anyway, getting bigger boobs is a choice isn’t it, so serves you right if you were the one they messed up.

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          • Well, didn’t they withdraw those leaky implants? I mean boobs have more value than brains, right?

            Bet Bruce/Cait Jenner and Dorothy Hamill are missing their Vioxx (only 25,000 fatal heart attacks and a 4.5 billion dollar payout- the “cost of doing business”? I think…)…and Sally Field is probably sorry Boniva’s injury record came to light….
            How many ECT injury wins? Two in about 80 years??
            Now that is fabulous for a machine that has killed many, disabled thousands and driven probably hundreds to suicide.

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          • Replying to ‘truth’s comment: Three of the women ‘incarcerated ‘ with me are dead – two ‘suicides’, one heart attack. I can’t remember how may of us were in that particular psychiatric unit – somewhere between 12- 20.

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  6. My shock was not voluntary. The shrinks declared it necessary because of an “emergency situation.” I think that’s fairly typical of involuntary shock for poor people, uppity women, trouble makers, etc…its always some sort of psychiatric emergency, the “patient” lacks insight to see how necessary high voltage is to their stability, etc. I think the best course of action would be to ban it outright. As long ECT is available, there will be victims. As long as ECT is profitable, the government and insurance programs will be bilked out of $$$ paying for torture.
    Sort of like…lobotomy was initially used as a last resort, and the early research on it is remarkably straightforward and blunt about the procedure, results, etc. By the 1950s, lobotomy became ever more popular on both an in- and out-patient basis, and the procedure was used on groups of people who were known to derive little, if any, benefit.

    I think shock–wait….ECT…–is pretty much the same. It was once ElectroShockTreatment (EST), and the docs were fairly blunt about what they were doing, the outcome, etc. Now, its ElectroConvulsiveTherapy (ECT), and its supposedly cleaned up, safer, a reasonable option in some cases, etc. I think a ban is probably the best course of action. Give (most) psychiatrists an inch, they’ll take a mile…and charge top $$$ for it, too.

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  7. Are machines that cause brain damage safe?
    Are machines that leave a person with years of spontaneous seizures safe?
    Are machines that damage dental restorations safe?
    Are machines that create vitreous detachments safe?
    Are machines that create cardiac arrhythmia safe?
    Are machines that wipe out 20 years of memory safe?
    Are machines that make a person incapable of remembering what they read safe?
    Are machines that make a person unemployable safe?

    I was forced to submit to ECT 12 years ago. Since then every day has been a struggle. I take no drugs. I had a miraculous and spontaneous remission from all manner of psychiatric illness when I tapered myself off all psychiatric medications.

    I had never seen my husband cry. I am told he cried at an office Christmas party I had organized for years. I wasn’t there; I was a guest of our local psychiatric facility.

    I saw my husband cry a few years ago when a journalist asked him how he felt about my electroshock treatments. He had signed the consent forms when he was told it was my last and only hope.

    I wasn’t even depressed – not at the beginning anyway. I had taken a benzodiazepine for caregiver stress, burnout and insomnia. Not one idiot doctor (i.e. psychiatrist) recognized benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and they proceeded to medicate me to insanity.

    I went to the psychiatric facility for help in withdrawing from the cascade of pharmaceuticals. I carried with me Peter Breggin’s book – ‘Your Drug May be Your Problem’. It didn’t help. I was seized, confined, and considered ‘an excellent candidate for ECT’.

    When I was younger I used to have my hair cut at Vidal Sassoon’s. The stylists used to ask me if my highlights were done at their salon. I told them ‘no’ – the highlights were done by the Italian sun.

    I now have permanent ‘highlights’ in my hair – pure white highlights – from the areas where the ECT machine fried my scalp. Hair stylists comment on how interesting they are. I don’t explain.

    ECT machines are dangerous and they are used by even more dangerous hands.

    Thank you Dr. Breggin

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    • Well, hell yeah, they are safe! Just ask David Healy and Ned Shorter. You need to read their book where you will discover that ECT is the “penicillin” of psychiatry and “memory loss” is an “urban myth”.
      I am pretty sure either one could tell you your “memory issues” and “cognitive problems” most certainly are related to your benzo and drug intake and the anesthetic!! Maybe you just have difficulty “teasing this out”??

      Sorry for the sarcasm. I know what you mean. I had a drug reaction, same story, driven iatrogenically insane, lied to, signed my own papers “voluntarily”. Lost 10 years of memory, 30 IQ points, not making new memories, lost my 31 year career, every day fight a desire to die. Loved life, was happy b4 psychiatric “help” and assault/ECT.
      Do not want one more teenager (18 for this latest?), child, or any human being to be assaulted with this barbaric, traumatic torture by the ghouls who practice better mental health through brain damage…f**** idiots….

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    • Your story is so sad I had a lump in my throat reading it. It all started for you as being a carer, yes caring for someone who is ill especially if you’re on your own is very stressful, what you probably needed was more support and help, a few breaks from it all. I find your journey an incredibly sad one and I’m really sorry you had to go through what you did. A very sad story.

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  8. Replying to Zeb: It’s sad story indeed – sad for everyone forced to undergo ECT – and sad for everyone who has to watch a family member go through ECT.

    With each of the 25 bilateral ‘treatments’ I thought I would die – either by electrocution or by lethal injection.

    My husband then collapsed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken heart syndrome) which mimics a heart attack. The common triggers are extreme physical and emotional stress. He was misdiagnosed, improperly medicated, and his heart was severely damaged. I became his caregiver. I was told he would not live for long.

    My husband is still alive – not in the greatest shape – but alive. I am still his caregiver. I lived and still live in terror that he might die. I have total amnesia of 20+ years of my life. He was, and still is, custodian of my memories

    I think any psychiatrist who resorts to ECT should not be practicing medicine.

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  9. Shall we ask the FDA?
    1. Can the FDA please explain how they can re-classify these machines, that in 2011 were found to cause an `unreasonable risk of harm’ (Class lll) to safe and effective (Classes I and II) without testing them to verify this?
    2. Can the FDA explain why a medical device, Class III, (presenting an unreasonable risk of harm) has been permitted for use, including that listed in this submission, for 5 years after receiving that classification, when ALL other medical devices so designated are required to conform to testing and safety protocols without fear or favour, before being permitted for re-submission, let alone use?
    3. Does the FDA plan to qualify that some, or all, ECT machines must be restricted for “severe treatment resistant depression…requiring a rapid response” use only? How does the FDA plan to differentiate machines to be used for these conditions from the machines used for all other diagnoses?
    4. Can the FDA explain how the machines can pose an `unreasonable risk of harm’ for one diagnosis but not for another?
    5. Is the FDA aware that there are very serious reservations about the validity of psychiatric diagnoses particularly in relation to the DSM? Should a person be subjected to a procedure that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’ based on questionable and controversial criteria for its use? Given this issue, at what point in a diagnosed condition does an `unreasonable risk of harm’ become `reasonable’, and what tests, checks and balances might be put in place to guarantee that the harm is not `unreasonable’?
    6. Is the FDA aware that studies show that fewer than 50% of people respond at ALL to ECT? Therefore does the FDA consider it acceptable to expose even a small number of specially selected people to an `unreasonable risk of harm’ on the under 50% chance that ANY therapeutic benefit, even in the very short term, will occur?
    7. Can the FDA predict which people in this sub-group will benefit? If not does the FDA accept that this risk of harm vs benefit is completely at random? If this statistic was presented to a potential recipient of a cardiac device would the FDA consider this acceptable?
    8. Does the FDA intend to accept that because one type of treatment (pharmaceuticals) has failed to help a person, they may then be treated with a procedure that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’?
    9. Does the FDA intend to set out a strict, standardised series of tests and criteria that will restrict the use of this procedure that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’ to this small, specific group of people? If so, how will this be phrased? For instance, will the psychiatrist have to produce detailed, comprehensive data that the patient has, in fact, not been helped by treatments that have been found to be effective in most (specify) other people? Will this criteria be standardised and policed? Will the patient’s wishes be honoured, e.g. will Advance Directives be upheld or will the individual be forced to receive this treatment based solely on the opinion of a psychiatrist at a given time?
    10. Given that, in normal psychiatric practice, one person may have several concurrent diagnoses, will there be a well defined, validated set of criteria that will definitely determine that an individual can be finally treated with a procedure that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’? If so, will there be strict independent supervision of the use of the procedure, such that if a person no longer fits the criteria, or there is any ambiguity in the diagnostic process whereby ANY question can exist as to the validity of the diagnosis? Will the individual have the right to litigation for being subjected inappropriately to a treatment that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’?
    11. Does the FDA intend to devise a set of protective criteria, including prosecution and other litigation, that will protect people from reckless, unwarranted, aggressive, or ignorant use of a treatment that offers an `unreasonable risk of harm’? There is a great deal of evidence that the unregulated use of ECT and even banned machines, is common.
    12. Will the FDA take into consideration ALL evidence that examines the degree of harm, rather than selecting the evidence that supports this submission? In 2011 many studies, including the largest study into memory/cognitive effects form ECT, which clearly indicated significant, permanent harm from the procedure, was missing from the list of relevant studies. Perhaps this oversight can now be addressed and other studies indicating poor responses, and recording significant, permanent damage be included in the current assessment.
    13. Is the FDA aware that claims of ECT being a `life saving’, `suicide intervention’ procedure, have little or no scientific support, that in fact, suicide may be a consequence of ECT?
    14. Has the FDA considered, at any time, the evidence that ECT produces considerable psychological suffering in many people? It has been likened to rape, assault, torture, bullying, de-personalisation, involving deception, helplessness, hopelessness, terror and despair.
    15. In considering the claims for faster response from ECT, particularly in the elderly, will the FDA consider the emerging evidence of ongoing harm associated with anaesthesia, particularly in older people? ECT requires the use of multiple anaesthetics over a period of weeks or months and the highest use of ECT is in elderly females (approx 40%).
    16. Will the FDA consider the considerable data indicating more severe damage occurs in females and the elderly when considering whether there exists an “unreasonable risk of harm”?
    17. Will the FDA review the data ion the risk of death from ECT? There is currently considerable data to suggest this far below stated levels of 1:10,000. The available data indicate a risk of between 1:200 (elderly) to 1:1000. For instance, recent statistics from Texas (2013-14) record a 1:400 death rate.
    18. Would the FDA consider asking the industry to provide new placebo trial data, animal studies and given recent documentation of structural brain damage (Perrin 2012), comprehensive examination including fMRI scans, longitudinal, standardised, neuropsychological and psychological assessment of a broad cross-section of past and current patients?
    19. Will the FDA consider the emerging data on the placebo effect from Harvard University when the efficacy of ECT is being considered?
    20. Will the FDA consider that the current ECT machines are only similar to those “grandfathered” in the 1980s, in that they deliver an electric shock to the brain? The type of electrical current is different, the duration of the application of the electricity is much longer, and the power used in that delivered is markedly increased. Usually, I suggest, the fact that a device has the same aim is not sufficient to allow it to be used without prior rigorous testing. A stent made of nylon and one made of titanium may be very similar in design, and have the same aim (to dilate an artery) but I cannot imagine the FDA would allow one to be used untested because of this.
    Whew! Can people think of more, or tidy this up, please.

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  10. Has there been a concerted effort to lobby “real” doctors, specifically neurologists, to form a group that presents research and evidence demanding the banning of electroshock? Has there been a collective group of humanistic psychiatrists who would lend their efforts to a similar petition, assuming numbers have significance. If, as Deirdre says, 85% of shrinks do not use ECT, there must be a pool to draw from, pathetic “profession” that it is, even if Dave and Ned and Max aren’t on board with trying to eliminate brain damage as a “treatment”…How does one go about inspiring either of these groups or others to take action?? Has this been done in the past, does anyone know?
    Is the Head Injury Association aware of the particular form of ABI and does it have a position on this barbaric assault continuing?
    I am assuming that the scientific researchers and reviewers who have published articles on the sickening truth about ECT have petitioned the FDA?

    Does Bill Gates have a few 100 million to donate to helping eradicate a legalized form of torture?
    What strategies might work?

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  11. First, doctors seem to have a pact that says, `I won’t poo in your nest, if you don’t poo in mine.” Surgeons have been known to have killed several people before authorities stepped in. Here in Aus an obstetrician was reported over a 20 year period for a high number of deaths, and a psychiatric hospital killed 50 people+ over a 24 year period. Everyone knew but no one did anything. Life-threatening events happen all the time during and after ECT, but they’re not reported. I personally know of 2 cardiac arrests and one stroke -not reported. (Maybe we should flood David Healy’s RxISK site reporting ECT adverse effects.) A problem of course, is that it takes time to discover the memory/cognitive deficits (some never do) which gives the perpetrators the opportunity to say that, a) it’s all in your mind, b) it’s your illness, c) it’s the drugs etc, and they’re relatively vague and expensive to even assess. Another one is that when these cardiac events, strokes, excessive seizures, respiratory complications occur DURING or shortly after ECT you are unconscious/unaware. You have to rely on those `caring’ for you to tell you and, sure as hell, they won’t. Again, the nursing staff, the only `medical’ contact you have directly after ECT may not consider your post ECT `fit’ or your stroke symptoms worthy of mentioning because they are NORMAL. That means they happen all the time. I would like to set up a Rosanhan type survey, place independent nurses into ECT units to record what actually happens, to expose the intentional and unintentional cover-ups. (Any takers?)
    Second, non-ECT doctors are not necessarily anti-establishment, may well believe all the other garbage they’ve been taught and may well have patients that need hospital beds at times. A public stance against ECT means they might lose their admission rights to the private hospitals that make serious profits from ECT.
    Third, neurologists know nothing about ECT. It’s barely mentioned in their text books and what there is comes directly from people like Richard Abrams, owner of Somatics Inc of Thymatron fame. They have no reason to think that the `leaders’ of psychiatry are lying any more than they think their own teachers are. An example of this is the group led by Richard Kast searching for a way to help his terminal brain cancer patients (ECT as Used in Psychiatry Temporarily Opens the Blood‐Brain Barrier: Could This be Used to Better Deliver Chemotherapy for Glioblastoma). They believe ECT is safe as a psychiatric treatment. Despite this he vividly describes what damage is being done, then says,…`these reports indicate that a certain amount of post‐ECT edema is occurring and should be of concern for our intended use of ECT in opening the BBB…” So even in the face of their own observations, they stick to the claim it is safe and effective for `mental ‘patients, though not for their dying ones.. A cultural discrimination, I think.
    All this means that getting anyone to believe ECT causes an ABI is like pushing sh*t uphill with a pointed stick. So the ABI and rehab people DON’T KNOW. I’VE done it but I’m the only one I know about and there is still an air of disbelief even after all the evidence is in, all the story is told. How can a patient possibly be right when the profession say they’re wrong? Institutions don’t lie! Well tell that to the Holocaust survivors.
    As for the anti ECT reviewers like John Read, Peter Breggin, Jock McLaren, Phil Hickey, Bob Johnson, Ivior Browne et al? Yes , I think they do write and speak out but they’re howled down by vested interests with BIG names and no morals. Do I think ECT will go? Yes, I do, but it will go only as the rest of psychiatry collapses. This has begun and is gathering momentum almost daily. Even Jeffrey Biederman (yes, THAT Jeffrey Biederman) has come out as saying that drugs are not the answer!!! For PTSD that is, BUT….every little nail into the side of the bucket…(Has Jeffrey, too, seen that the ship is sinking?) see recent MIA article). So, stick around, Truth, and keep up the great work, you need to be here when the citadel falls.

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  12. There can be a bit of GENUINE research done that would probably support the anti ECT cause that doesn’t require direct access to ECT patients. This is always a difficulty, all research into ECT is done by those who support it. These are 1) animal studies; 2) random testing of post ECT people using MRI, fMRI scans and extensive neuropsychological tests ; 3) psychological assessments for emotional difficulties; 4) full neurological assessment. All of this can be done using CORRECT scientific method (with CONTRLOL groups etc) and even without before and after pictures we could get a good overview. BUT it would cost $$$, ($1,000,000+) and the only money around for ECT research is coming from its SUPPORTERS. maybe there is a wealthy person out there who has been hurt by ECT? Or is just interested in the truth.

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  13. Oh, and this just appeared amongst my emails…” ****, one of the…greatest psychics in the world. She received a gift from the heavens when she was just a small child. Her aim is: to put her powers at the disposal of those with real difficulties and who call upon them to find harmony, love and happiness.
    Change your Destiny for a much richer life. By grabbing the chance a lifetime, you could finally make your wildest dreams come true. Revelations await you to satisfy all your desires.
    Fight the decrease in purchasing power; find a solution to your most serious problems and to all the daily worries that are ruining your life. Escape the negative vibrations that are stopping you living the wonderful life you deserve. Your free reading will set you on the right path.” It just reminded me of psychiatric claims generally with about the same degree of scientific credibility.

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    • Interesting. But I would rate the psychic’s claims as more scientifically credible than anything “psychiatry” has ever offered… AND, psychic’s aren’t poisoning and brain damaging people on a regular basis, as psychiatrists do…
      I am deeply saddened by your clear-eyed description of why “real” doctors and the majority of non- ECT administering psychiatrists do not act individually or in groups to see ECT is banned. What happened to integrity, morals, ethics, an inquiring mind? it falls to fear, intimidation, worries about money, career? Well, guess that makes sense. Can’t send your kid to Harvard on minimal income (or buy that big house, cars, toys…).
      So, how do we lobby and involve the rich and famous, the actors/actresses, musicians… Miley Cyrus?
      George Clooney? What would it take to make it a popular cause?? Is there an agency to create a campaign?
      Who has Gates number?
      What about the Donald??

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      • Who is high profile enough? Who has enough star power? clout??
        Dr. Oz?? Oh, right, he had that pro-ECT segment “The Shock That Could Save Your Life” (or brain damage, traumatize you, wipe out your memories, end your career and drive you to suicide). Guess that last part made the title a bit bulky… And they ARE planning to run that part in the second show… NOT…

        Who else? Deepak Chopra? Angelina Jolie? One of the Kennedy klan? Dr. Sanjay Gupta?
        If they called 2 friends and they called 2 friends…. If they donated money for ads, TV spots, a media blitz… Or is the media onside with the miracle of ECT lies and misinformation bc of the other “poster people” like Carrie and Kitty?? (Both of whom seem to be having major cognitive and memory issues…)
        With Concussion in the theatres, is the public more aware of head trauma as a dangerous thing?

        Oh, yes, probably 95% of the population has no clue this torture/lunatic “procedure”still is being “administered” to people.
        Is the PR machine working well to keep shock looking like a “safe and effective”
        option, especially with renowned medical centres advertising its “efficacy”? I looked up the Mayo Clinic- ECT alive and well…

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  14. The Mayo Clinic are still into the `chemical imbalance’, despite Ron Pies claim that NO reputable institution really says it any more! I wonder where they get their funding from? Have a look at: “5 Things Every TBI Survivor Wants You to Understand – October 19, 2015 SCOTT TAMARKIN Brain Injury.” This article might help us explain what has happened to us. We MUST get ECT brain damage seen for what it is, an Acquired Brain Injury. The ECT machine applies a force to the brain that disrupts its normal function. FACT. It renders the person unconscious with sufficient force to cause a convulsion. FACT. Therefore it causes concussion. FACT. Concussion is a brain injury. Fact. ECT is used as a COURSE of treatments. FACT. Therefore it causes repetitive brain injury. FACT. The consequences of concussion can be found in neurological literature. All the claims about decreased `connections’. altering brain chemistry, stimulating neurogenesis, are, in fact, true. All are a consequence of BRAIN INJURY! Any claim that brain injury can be therapeutic must be held up against the data on whether brain injury is therapeutic for non psychiatric patients. Basic scientific method. Is this too logical for the FDA do you think? I intend to suggest to the FDA that owing to advances in technology (fMRI etc) brain injury will be easy to prove, and since diagnosis is at best, chancy, people may consider the FDA to have been irresponsible in allowing an untested, unsafe machine to be used in ANY circumstances, and litigation in the future might be a significant issue.

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  15. It’s interesting how the `rats’ are leaving the Titanic. Allen Francis, Ron Pies, Dan Carlat, and now, heavens above, Jeffrey Lieberman, have stepped sideways. Tom Insell did too, briefly, but ducked sideways when he got more money, and where is Harry Sackheim? Maybe the drying up of pharma money grants have forced the smart guys to reach around for other sources. Even the Psychiatric Times is occasionally allowing dissident `points of view”, without undue censorship and publishing articles that present the bioPSYCHOSOCIAL `new’ view of the `path forward’ in psychiatry. I wonder how their pharma advertisers are taking that? Of course its lip service. When you see the `biotype’ = EUGENICS, research from the heavily government funded NIMH you know that the old guard still hold the money. But the tide is coming in and sandcastles are sandcastles.

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  16. That is rather rude and unfair to the “rats”, isn’t it? I mean, some make reasonable pets and many are useful in research (studies)….

    And, is the “Pharma grants funding” really drying up in response to all the scandals?

    Thank-you for listing the simple, concise facts regarding shock as acquired brain injury. So logical, so obvious to everyone but the deluded or malevolent or simply stupid who continue to practice ECT or advocate for its use.
    WHY aren’t these people ashamed and embarrassed to keep spouting off about the “benefits” of this lunatic “treatment”? Why aren’t they sorry for all the injury, trauma, and damage they have inflicted on people and continue to inflict? They need to be shunned and sent to jail for crimes against humanity.

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  17. I have something to say…I experienced it and I would NEVER wish this on anyone – only 2 weeks to respond? I was 17 years old, (I am currently 61) and it was an attempt to silence me, from atrocities that occurred in my youth. It still brings me to tears, when I share that I experienced this….even though I have spent many years healing, it is still a “black mark” in my past. Haunted by staying silent, and afraid to speak up. Dr. Breggin’s books and conference he used to attend were a great help to me…..but even today – before I saw this article I was sharing a bit of my experiences with others, and I am still shaken by them. ECT is not help, it is one of the most severe forms of abuse delivered to someone that is already in severe emotional pain. It is a tool used politically, to silence the victim, and glorify the perpetrator. I am deeply saddened that our society believes so called “experts” such as Psychiatrists, I only wish I could be a voice for reform, however, there are those that would argue that it did “help” me. It did not. I had to persevere, and search for answers on my own, and do the best that I could…….and I have. This is a memory that forever haunts me. Let the Drs. that use it – use it on themselves. That is the only group that I can recommend it for. Then maybe, if they can still use their mind, might feel differently.

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  18. Dear StillHealing,
    I have great compassion for your plight and the treatment of ECT that was forced upon you, and I cried while reading what you wrote. PLEASE, if you are able, contact Laura Tenney at [email protected] as she wants to hear directly from you and anyone else who has direct experience with the terrible practice of ECT upon human beings.

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  19. Here’s my totally subjective non-scientific ancedotal inconsequential personal opinion of ECT: it is a tool of sadistic psychopaths. I had it when I was a teenager because I was depressed over my mother’s suicide after she was subjected to ECT for the crime of being in an unhappy marriage. I suddenly realized why she killed herself. For all my father’s failings I know he wasn’t capable of what he unwittingly paid to have done to her or me. Such unbridled cruelty can only be the domain of hired professionals.

    Imagine dragging around a dead person with you wherever you go. Someone you used to know and love so deeply and implicitly that there was no boundary between you, and you couldn’t even conceive of the possibility that this person could be killed but you might somehow remain alive. Like a dead siamese twin. You can’t bury it and you can’t bring it back to life. That’s what shock “therapy” can do for you. And then there’s the loss of emotional connections to friends and loved ones who you can’t even remember. You’re left all alone clinging to the edge of a blackness from which nothing ever returns. There is no adjective adequate to describe such inhumanity. But the worst of it is that they leave their victims physically alive, so as not to trouble themselves with the inconvenience of disposing of a body or dealing with the police. Seriously. Those few who are intelligent enough to see what they’re doing must be criminally insane.

    The real question here is what is wrong with the madmen who habitually commit this crime of sadistic cruelty, and what measures can be taken to protect the rest of us from them, given that they have stealthily insinuated themselves into the machinery of the state and have unquestioned power over the most voiceless and vulnerable people in society.

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  20. I am looking for help finding a doctor in Minnesota that is opposed to ECT or would be favorable to testing my husband to measure his residual deficits. His current neurologist (not the one that ordered ECT) had an MRI, PET scan and a neuropsyc eval done and he feels nothing is wrong and that my husband is “just depressed.” My husband had his only ECT tx’s (6-8 total) 2 years ago, and has memory loss and significant cognitive impairments and deficits that were not present before the ECT. There is now no hope of him returning to work but I am looking for a way to prove these deficits so I can appeal for disability benefits from the private insurance carrier. I cannot support our family by myself, especially since he is no longer capable of functioning independently for himself or our children and am really struggling to prove what has happened to him.
    We are on a limited budget, but I may be able to fly us somewhere if there is a doctor out of state that would be able to test him. Thank you in advance for any help.

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