Edited excerpts from a speech delivered at the “Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers” protest, Toronto, May 11, 2019
This year, more than 10,000 women will be electroshocked in Canada, at least half of whom will be in their 60s and older. As professor, antipsychiatry activist and feminist Bonnie Burstow has frequently pointed out, two to three times more women than men are shocked in Canada, as well as in the United States and elsewhere. This is a violent assault on women, triggered by misogyny, ageism and psychiatric lies, with the complicity of the Canadian and American Psychiatric Associations, the transnational drug companies (Big Pharma), and provincial and state governments. Yes, there is collusion between government, psychiatry, government, and the corporate media. A national and international crime and shame.
As an insulin shock survivor, antipsychiatrist and social justice activist, I am speaking out and protesting today to demand that psychiatrists stop electroshocking my sisters, including vulnerable elderly and disabled women. For more than 75 years — since the 1940s — Canadian and American shock doctors have targeted and permanently harmed hundreds of thousands of people, young and old. Predominantly male psychiatrists have fraudulently diagnosed as “mentally ill” (“bipolar,” “borderline personality” “schizophrenic,” etc.) women whom they have then forcibly shocked, traumatized and lied to. With their shock machines, psychiatrists have destroyed countless women’s memories, creativity, skills, careers and lives.
And then, these shock doctors and their fascist organizations unethically minimize or flatly deny all criticism of the permanent memory loss, brain damage, and trauma caused by their “safe and effective” shock machines. Try telling how safe and effective shock is to survivor and hunger striker Connie Neil, who suffers from permanent memory loss after more than 30 shock “treatments” for “postpartum depression.” Try telling how safe and effective ECT is to Wendy Funk, who has no memory of raising her children, 30 years after being shocked. Try telling how safe and effective shock is to the late great lawyer and shock survivor, my lifelong friend Carla McKague, who, after undergoing 18 shock “treatments,” was unable to remember how to play a favourite Beethoven sonata, and confided “I’m not as smart as I used to be,” despite having earned a Master’s Degree in mathematics years before shock.
This violent psychiatric assault on women is not only continuing but actually increasing, ignored by the media and the public. I call psychiatry’s war against women’s brains and minds femicide and menticide: an intentional and criminal assault. Electroshocking women and the elderly is not new, but it’s getting more dangerous and outrageous as time passes. Consider the fact that, today, higher doses of electricity (in the range of 200-400 volts) are necessary to trigger the epileptic seizure that occurs during every shock session, because the seizure threshold is raised by the drugs whose use accompany ECT.
These “treatments” are given as many as three times a week by misogynist and sadistic male psychiatrists — with the blessing and self-serving lies of fascistic organizations like the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Psychiatric Association.
All health organizations, including Canada’s Neurological Association, deny or greatly minimize the common and permanent memory loss and brain damage suffered by thousands of shock survivors and others in Canada, the United States and other so-called free, democratic, humane countries. The silence of Canadian neurologists — obviously more knowledgeable about brain structure and function than the psychiatrists — is inexcusable and unethical.
In Toronto, as elsewhere in Canada, ECT patient consent forms at mental health centres and psychiatric facilities (including those run by CAMH — the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) are unethical and illegal. Why? Because they seriously violate the patients’ ethical and legal right to informed consent. Informed consent in psychiatry is a myth and a lie — a cruel joke. Shock doctors routinely violate this ethical principle and moral imperative every day and every hour, in every psychiatry facility in Canada. For example, CAMH’s ECT consent form conspicuously fails to mention, never mind explain, such common risks and adverse effects as permanent memory loss, brain damage, and physical and psychological trauma. (These and other major health risks are listed in the detailed ECT consent forms issued in Texas, California, and Colorado, which specifically cite permanent memory loss and brain damage as common risks.)
In Canada, provincial and federal health ministers, as well as newspaper and television editors and producers, have willfully and shamefully ignored the increase of the use of electroshock on women and, in particular, on the elderly, our senior sisters. Over the last several years, they have never mentioned the vulnerability of women, the elderly and children, and the devastating impacts electroshock has had and continues to have on their health and lives. Nor do the media ever mention or criticize the well-known collusion of Big Pharma, including the sedatives (“tranquilizers”) and paralyzing drugs that accompany each “treatment.” Drugs such as succinylcholine paralyze the whole body, including the lungs. Shock patients wouldn’t be able to breathe without oxygen being medically administered during every procedure.
Psychiatry and Big Pharma collude in promoting electroshock, spreading lies like how “safe and effective” shock is and how it “prevents suicide,” despite the overwhelming lack of scientific evidence to support their claims. Cui bono? Who benefits? Not the patients, but rather Big Pharma CEOs and the shock psychiatrists who make (not earn) hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual fees.
As if brainwashed, the media repeat the lies about ECT as scientific facts. According to the vast majority of shock survivors and professional critics, including dissident health professionals, electroshock is not just trauma, but torture: an instance of cruel and degrading punishment. A similar concern has been expressed by United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez in his 2008 and 2011 reports to the Committee Against Torture. Yes, electroshock is torture, and it’s time all activists and investigative reporters and editors admitted this grim fact. (I don’t expect such honesty from psychiatrists.)
Electroshock has never been proved “safe and effective” since it was first introduced as a therapeutic treatment for “depression” and a deterrent to suicide in the early 1940s. Electroshock is based on psychiatry’s self-serving myths, lies, power, greed and sexism — not on any consideration of safety, scientifically proven effectiveness, or medical ethics.
Electroshock must be abolished now, not just in Ontario but across Canada, the United States, and the world. That has been the strong and consistent message of thousands upon thousands of survivors and antipsychiatry activists and allies for decades. In 2015, for example, many hundreds of shock survivors and their supporters — mainly women — organized and participated in anti-shock rallies and protests and panels in 30 cities in eight countries, where they repeatedly urged a universal ban. I’m proud to say that simultaneous protests were held in several Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. As usual, the brain-dead Canadian corporate media totally ignored this historic global resistance, just as they’ve ignored and failed to report the many protests put on by the Committee Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), including the current press conference and protest.
I urge you to stop for a moment of silence, as you think of all those women — it could be you, or your mother, your grandmother, your aunt, your niece, your wife, your sister — who have undergone or will undergo electroshock and suffer severe losses in memory, intelligence, special skills, creativity. Women too disabled by shock to pursue promising careers. Women who suddenly die after being shocked.
Although I have not volunteered to be a hunger striker, I fully support Connie Neil and the other hunger strikers. I very much hope their risky, courageous act of resistance against this psychiatric violence will attract the attention and recognition of Canadian media and public. It’s about time!
In closing, I want to assert a few charges against the shock perpetrators and their apologists.
I charge the Ontario government, other provincial and federal governments, medical schools, and Big Pharma with complicity and willful ignorance about electroshock, including their denial and lies about the memory-destroying, brain-damaging and traumatic effects of ECT, especially impacting women and the elderly.
I charge the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health with intentionally misinforming and deceiving ECT patients and their relatives by its failure to include common risks of electroshock in its consent and information forms.
I charge psychiatry with willfully ignoring or dishonestly minimizing criticism of electroshock and frequent demands to abolish or ban it.
I charge politicians and health ministers with willful ignorance, silence, and inaction about the many destructive effects of electroshock, as well as safe and effective community alternatives, including healing houses and accessible, 24/7 walk-in crisis centres.
I charge the corporate media with failing to report local, provincial, and state rallies, public educational forums, and protests against electroshock, including the 2015 global protest and demand for abolition, and with willfully ignoring or censoring criticism of electroshock — particularly its many scientifically documented health risks and adverse effects, including deaths — and their refusal to invite and interview shock survivors and other critics on their “balanced” and “impartial” programs.
On a more positive note. I urge all health professionals to listen to shock survivors’ criticisms of the abuses and human rights violations committed by shock doctors. So far, there have been almost no whistleblowers. However, I vividly recall reading about the firing of psychiatrist Jaime Paredes in Riverview Hospital, B.C., for daring to expose the disproportionate shocking of elderly patients. And I remember the firing of nurse Stacie Neldaughter, who lost her nursing license after she protested against the disproportionate number of elderly women shocked in a Wisconsin hospital.
I urge mental health professionals, medical students, interns and residents, and nurses to read personal testimonies, articles, and books by shock survivors and dissident professionals such as Bonnie Burstow, psychiatrist Peter Breggin and psychologist John Breeding. Most mainstream journalists, reporters, editors and producers have been brainwashed by psychiatry’s discredited medical model. They’re apparently incapable of critical and independent thought. Too many health professionals are in denial and are involved in a massive cover-up, just like the shock doctors and their lobbyists.
Every time a psychiatrist pushes the button on a shock machine, sending hundreds of volts into a patient’s brain, he or she violates the Hippocratic Oath that orders all doctors: “First, do no harm.”
It’s time we had class action lawsuits in Canada that directly and powerfully expose the destructive shock machines, as in the historic California shock case last year, in which the judge criticized the shock machine manufacturers (Somatics, Mecta, et al.) for causing permanent brain damage. It’s time the Canadian Psychiatric Association, shock mills like Toronto’s CAMH and other “mental health” centres and psychiatric facilities, and all shock doctors were sued for promoting disinformation, myths and lies; for denying brain damage and permanent memory loss; and for promoting lies about ECT’s alleged safety and effectiveness, including lies of omission and deliberate misinformation on ECT consent forms.
Yes — it’s time for class action lawsuits asserting that electroshock is torture, not treatment: a human rights violation that always causes harm. It’s time rise up and fight back, as the hunger strikers are doing today. Shock must be abolished. If not now, when?
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.
Bravo! I am picturing in my mind huge rounds of applause at every paragraph break. I think it was in 2000 that I knew a 94-year-old man who went through shock.
If they kill us, they can get away with it because they can shrug it off to “old age.” We’re only mental patients. Maybe no one will notice.
Thank you for speaking out against these horrendous “treatments”/crimes against humanity. I agree, our society does have a problem with “misogynist and sadistic male psychiatrists.” Mine actually had “delusions of grandeur” I’d believe my entire life was a “credible fictional story,” when I confronted him with all of his delusions about me and my family, written into his medical records. Nut case.
But given the reality that the primary societal function of our psychiatrists and psychologists, both historically and today, is covering up child abuse and rape of women and children, largely for men.
Well, it only makes sense that industries, whose primary actual societal function is covering up child abuse and rape, usually for men, would indeed fill their ranks with misogynistic and sadistic men. Although all women, who profiteer off of covering up child abuse and rape, of other women or their children, are staggeringly hypocritical traitors to women and children.
And this is today likely most of the “mental health” workers, since NONE of them can EVER bill ANY insurance company for EVER helping ANY child abuse survivor EVER, without first misdiagnosing the person. The DSM is a child abuse covering up “mental health” system, by design, since all “mental health” workers want to get paid.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The psychiatric industry should have their right to force drug or electrocute innocents taken away, because it has corrupted itself absolutely, just like the psychiatrists did in Nazi Germany and Bolshevik led Russia.
The psychiatrists didn’t learn from history, likely since their industry was largely never punished for their historic misogynistic crimes against humanity. So they’re repeating the worst of history, and we’re seeing an all western civilization psychiatric holocaust now.
Although, my father’s profession is to blame as well. Since it is the war mongering and profiteering, globalist central banksters, who funded the miseducation of our medical industry. And all should learn a little about the history of the banking industry, since most our doctors worship money, and “science,” or as we now know psychiatry to be, pseudoscience.
Although in my father’s defense, banking can be used for good or evil. Local banks want to help those within their community. “Too big to fail banks” and/or a “one world banking system” are the dumbest ideas in the world.
Our family bank never needed to take bailouts, nor did we. And we didn’t go on to steal trillions in houses, like the globalist “too big to fail” banks, that our founding fathers forewarned us about did, in recent years.
We’re dealing with systemic societal problems, bad systems. Bad systems set up by “the banks and corporations that will grow up around them,” like big Pharma, about which the American founding fathers forewarned our country.
As Chris Hedges correctly points out, “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”
But, oh my God, all the women who know about these systemic societal problems need to be “managed” by our paternalistic religions, who do all worship money, and who do all cover up the rape of our children, via the psychiatric child rape covering up “mental health” system.
And the “artist manager” psychologists, who hope to cover up these systemic crimes against women and children for their religions, don’t know when to stop handing over contracts which prove their nefarious desires.
What a shame my childhood religion is now nothing but a bunch of bought out and paid for, by our globalist banksters, and their “mental health” minion, child rape covering up pieces of garbage. Even according to the ethical within my former religion.
I’d be one of the many “widows” mentioned within the Preface of this book. What an embarrassment to reality that our scientific fraud based, primarily child rape covering up, “mental health” workers have spent their entire lives, working for the globalist banksters. And the child rape covering up religions are the now money only worshippers our founding fathers forwarned us against.
Think twice, ladies and gentlemen of the so called “mental health” industries. You’ve been deluded by the globalist banksters, and the industries that grew up around them.
And murdering the American banking families that helped to make America great, is NOT in your best interest.
Let’s not forget that the medical industry is in the business of covering up its own crimes and abuses.
And the doctors, lawyers, professors, students, statesmen, journalists, clergy and bankers who don’t toe the line will pay for it.
Don, thanks for this sobering piece
. I admire your steadfast dedication to ending torture posing as ‘treatment’ Your work in this movement for decades has been a shining example for many people like me who are just beginning to learn about the issues and take action.
Many accolades Don for this powerfully stated piece and thank you for your enduring fight to abolish the degrading torture and harm of ECT. It is appalling the media is ignoring this horrendous crime and assault on the brains of unsuspecting women and even elderly women. In my ongoing battle against psychiatry the collusion between the government and psychiatry did become disgustingly apparent. I now realize corporate media is also complicit and as you stated, that is “A national and international crime and shame”.
I support and send my best wishes to Connie Neil and the other hunger strikers. I really hope the media give their brave efforts some much needed coverage. Best regards to all.
Just a small correction: “Committee Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA)” should be “Coalition”. Also, their Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzrW3LyoxrAjBolOO9062Hg?view_as=subscriber) doesn’t seem to be actively maintained, at least not in the last 7 months. And with only a handful of videos.
Give us more truth about electroshock! We need to stop this barbaric practice! The “safe and effective” lie is transparent, while the facts, such as you get from this article, speak for themselves. Electroshock is no way to “treat” a human being, and doctors who use it should be prosecuted under the law for harming those they have been entrusted to heal and protect.
Thank you for writing this powerful article. I am deeply disturbed that now many people who don’t respond to two antidepressants are considered “treatment resistant” and immediately recommended for ECT. When I begged for it in 1995, I thought it was my last hope to get out of depression–now I cringe inside that I was every willing to subject myself to such a thing. But of course, everyone told me how safe it was. All of us need to join together and stop this horrendous practice.
The absolute ignorance of the media is profound. I almost kicked a hole in my tv as I watched Anderson Cooper promoting electroshock on 60 Minutes with a obviously brain impaired Kitty D.
No balance. No truth. Dr. Oz and The Doctors have similarly given shock the green light with their slick misrepresentations of electroshock. No mention of permanent amnesia, of brain damage, lost careers, suicide. Absolutely criminal.
Yes, fail 2 useless drug trials and you are lied to and told Shock is your last hope.
Don, you are a warrior. I want your article printed by all the major papers in Canada. What would it take for that to happen?
On Twitter, every day, shock doctors defend giving ppl TBI’s through ECT, claiming they are saving lives and pointing to the industry sponsored and biased “studies” on shock which are devised to ignore and not reveal harms.
The latest move by FDA to move shock to Class II for “special indications” and allowing 13 year olds to be shocked is pure corruption, ignorance, and insanity at its finest.
Shock doctors and hospitals need to be pursued for assault, bodily and mental harm, and torture.
Time to start chaining ourselves to shock machines and invading the “suites” where harm is being inflicted on the vulnerable and innocent.
And I want David Healy and Eddie Shorter to update their book on shock- stating it DOES cause brain damage according to Somatics device makers.
DK lawfirm reviewed my case for free, but I was outside timelines; hope they take on a raft of clients in Canada.
What’s wrong with the Merchant lawfirm not seeing this as a class action long in the making? They have sued almost every other group on the planet.
The emphasis on CTE with repeated non-concussive hits to the head adds to the reasons elec shocks and seizures benefit no one.
Strange how one accidental shock to some other body part is considered an emergency which could result in sig CNS problems….
Lawsuits against doctors in Canada are almost non existent.
We have no lawyers that are willing to sue, just for being spanked.
We can sue if our legs are removed through negligence,
but the onus is on us to prove negligence.
Our taxes pay the Doctor’s fees, their “college of physicians and services” , their numerous lawyers, Their “patient representatives”
and even our ombudsman.
In fact even if you hire a lawyer simply for a mediation, your lawyer will question you.
It must occur to governments that the scales are a bit tipped in favor of doctors, YET, I’m the consumer. I paid for the service, yet we are treated like idiots.
There is one comforting thought. Each one will meet their day. It just seems such a waste to exert power over others on a daily basis.
There is no pride in being bullies. No pride in tyranny.
I repeat, any real care system is not one that scares people, shames, or uses harmful treatments.
One will notice that psychiatry ALWAYS uses the words that people understand in terms of their defense.
They ALWAYS use the very few extreme states, to defend a cruel practice.
And politicians are scared.
I appreciate my country, and I hope as with some other things, we have a few influential people that are not scared to talk about real health, not disguised abuse.
“In the history of the treatment of depression, there was the dunking stool, purging of the bowels of black bile, hoses, attempts to shock the patient. All of these represent hatred or aggression towards what depression represents in the patient.”
I’m in favor of destruction, aggression, hating things. Not bearing things anymore. We think the breakdown comes because our life is in bad shape. But maybe the ideas cause the disorder. Something tries to break through and causes the disorder.”
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/james_hillman
Yes, electro shock, insulin shock, lobotomy and any kind of forced procedures should be abolished.
In the mean time try to prosecute as Crimes Against Humanity in the International Court. Other countries have this legal ability.
And then we need a network of safe houses, etc.
Need to oppose, and also need to resist.
Resist by any means necessary!
Safe houses, underground railroad, etc.
14 comments. Some woman writes an account of her psych experience, making bizarre comments about the “addicts” she shouldn’t be locked up with and the mean ppl she was maltreated by and get 100’s and 100’s of comments, mostly astounded at what she was saying.
This extremely well- written article about shock that permanently destroys
ppl’s lives, used on 13 yr olds, pregnant, elderly women gets hardly any feedback.
Do ppl just not care about victims of ECT, which is simply brain damage as “treatment” or too busy focused on drug issues to care. This is electrical lobotomy and hardly anyone is jumping in to put a stop to it. Two protestors at one rally. Brutal.
100,000+ signatures about shark fin soup and 397 against shock.
Yes, save the whales and orangutans, but maybe these women and children first.
The reason I haven’t commented more is I haven’t experienced shocks.
But they ARE brutal. Random acts of brain damage. Like all the “help” shrinks offer.
They differ from neurologists in that their sole purpose is to destroy healthy brain tissue to make people dumb and helpless. It’s not about saving lives or improving the quality but turning us all into domestic animals.
I cycled in and out of hospital for 15 years, a cumulative of 3 years in hospital. Formed 4 or 5 times. About 32 different psych drugs and 26 electroshocks. I am not sure if I remember or was told at least once I was still convulsing in the recovery room. After I got involved in the movement I requested copies of my in hosp medical files trying to figure out what the hell my own story was. I noted there was no evidence of written consent for half the electroshocks. Even though simply a technicality I wanted to take action so it would be put on record so others might be aware. Not being able to afford a lawyer I found an org that might be able to represent me pro bono. Told them my story and what I found in my records. They stated they would need to review my file however as it was over 10 tomes thick it would be $$. Thus they suggested I meet with the p-doc in question to see what excuse he might come up with. I went to the meeting prepared with research papers and the blog I had written on when CAMH placed an ad on Craigslist to recruit volunteers for electroshocks using flat out lies. Knowing how they operate felt was the better approach than using opinions, feelings etc to rebut him. Every time he tried to justify his actions whether the drugs or electroshocks I rebutted. Then he stopped the meeting stating he could only continue with legal representation. Unfortunately I had to leave it there. The even more interesting part of this was as I was walking down the hall towards his office two nurses were walking in the opposite direction. It was change of shift time and anyone who worked there when I was admitted knew me (I was a real trouble maker). The two nurses stopped dead in their tracks, looked at me rather stunned and said to my face “we assumed you were dead”. Not something one would expect to hear thus I don’t think I was able to respond. Cardiotoxicity was also in my records when on the drug that killed Vanessa of Vanessa’s Law. Only they simply changed the SSRI.
The daily abuse by the system is criminal and the vast majority of the public still buy the lies. I remember talking with someone singing the praises of electroshock saying that they now spent so much time relearning basic skills they didn’t have time to think about what used to upset/bother them. Wow.
I am not in Canada now thus won’t be able to be in Queens Park. Keep the pressure on and kick their a**.
Was that a grateful consumer praising the EC they had undergone? Wow.
I believe others have praised it after surviving it. Stockholm Syndrome perhaps. Or the Sunken Cost Fallacy.
The APA doesn’t list Stockholm Syndrome or Munchausen’s by Proxy for good reason.
To shrinks, Stockholm Syndrome is just “good insight.” Munchausen’s by Proxy makes you a “concerned caregiver.”
Removed for moderation.
How about giving people cards to carry which say that they have a religious objection to psych drugs and psychotherapy. If this is not respected the reader is admonished that they will be sued.
A web address and phone number are given, these administer even stronger warnings, and it may result in protestors coming to the hospital or where ever.
Satanic Temple uses something like this to try and block corporal punishment in schools.
This is electrical shock we’re discussing–not drugs or counseling.
And it is not the same as corporal punishment. If EC were viewed as punishment it might be banned for being cruel and unusual. But since it’s viewed as medical treatment you have can’t make the same legal arguments against it.
Want to give people ways to protect themselves from all aspects of the Mental Health – Recovery System.
Rachel, historically, in mental hospitals and psychiatric prisons, Electro shock, insulin shock, and lobotomy were used as punishment.
And you could argue today that in the Middle-Class Family and in Foster Care, lethal psychiatric neurotoxins are used as punishment.
Until there are penalties for perpetrators, it is just going to be endless debate.
You ever have any contact with the Mental Health System, I would say that you want to right away remove yourself from the interaction, and let other people who are safely isolated handle this.
In the Criminal Justice System, this would be via an attorney. Maybe an attorney could be lined up to step in here too. But maybe it would have to be others. You want people who can be extremely tough on the System, without you having to open your mouth.
Hence the idea about the religious objection cards, and the web site and phone number to call.
No I know one guy who is pro-Psychotherpy. He is a member of Kaiser. He is angry because does not let him get much psychotherapy, only about one session every 8 weeks.
As I see it, Kaiser screens people via psychotherapists before they get their medical care. As I see it, they are likely building dossiers on their members, which could be used to defend themselves in case of any future litigation. They are also using this to ration medical care.
Excellent article, Southern Poverty Law Center.
“More and more, we see misogyny as the gateway drug for extremists.”
Decades ago I had looked to Chidren’s Defense Fund as leader in child protection. But in the years since they seem to have shifted to only economic issues, not child versus parents issues.
Here, Southern Poverty Law Center could have stepped in. But they see mental health services as a right, not as something which aides parents and which children need to be protected from.