Self Stolen: How ECT Fried My Brain

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On the evening of December 3, 2022, I overdosed on 400 mg of Amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker blood pressure medicine. I was in ICU for 11 days, and on a ventilator for four of those days. I’m still here, having been found the following day despite myself.

So to back way up, as a kid I was brilliant. Funny, compassionate, athletic and so much more. My IQ tested at 144. I was amazing as a young person. Then, the reality of human beings, the world, and my parents’ “War of the Roses” divorce all set in at age 11. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II at age 12 and attempted suicide at age 13.

I tried desperately to change through my teens. I read books from the library on Taoism, Buddhism, nihilism, and modern psychology. I finally found a passion in skiing, and moved to Boulder, CO at age 18. I attended the University of Colorado and studied Aerospace Engineering, and most importantly at the time, I ski raced.

I struggled despite all my efforts, struggled greatly.

A traumatic brain injury in 2002 didn’t help anything.

I tried going back to school after the brain injury, but between the bipolar disorder and the head trauma, I couldn’t handle the stress and pressure anymore.

Even though I had an A average in college at Colorado State University, I dropped out of CSU in 2013, and having tried over 20 different antidepressants and mood stabilizers since 2011, ECT was recommended to me.

I was told that only temporary, minor memory loss was possible, in rare cases, before starting ECT in 2013.

The best way to sum up extreme ECT memory loss is it’s like having Alzheimer’s, and being fully cognizant of it. What that does in effect is take away who you are as a person: your self-identity.

To those who don’t understand this, who you are, your entire sense of self, ARE YOUR MEMORIES. The way you connect with others through stories, jokes, shared memories, is gone. Socialization skills, along with countless other aspects of life, have to be relearned.

Attempting to make new friends four years after ECT, four of us, I being the new member of the group, went skiing and snowshoeing up to a remote backcountry hut. When we settled in at the hut, I was like a bump on a log. Sitting with the others, so very close in quarters, but so very disconnected. I did not get jokes, or references to famous people, places, or events. I sat with a blank mind and nothing to share. I was of course not invited out with these people again.

This is only somewhat better now, trying to socialize.

I’m NOT 46 years old! I don’t have the learned skills of a 46-year-old. No memories of 46 years’ worth of time. Say if your life is like a movie unfolded, you get to see the entire movie, I get less than a trailer’s worth of memories of my life. No movie here anymore.

I had to embarrassingly relearn that “Oriental” was a faux pas to say these days. I’m a product of the ’80s, and this was a lost memory. I’d tell you of more embarrassing moments, of not knowing socially what to do or say, if only I could remember all the times.

An old friend I do remember reintroduced me to an old boyfriend, and I didn’t know him at all: a complete stranger to me now. School days gone. Friends gone. My young mom, erased. It’s devastating at best.

We would never progress or move forward, if it were not for memories, of past successes and especially mistakes.

Regarding the bandwagon phrase “Just live in the moment,” it’s garbage. Go get ECT, get a lobotomy, a head injury, some way to lose all your memories, and then you can truly live in the moment. There is nothing to reflect back on. Nothing to share and connect to people with. There is no you left. You too can then also be lonely in the moment.

My friends are gone, I have none now. I can not seem to connect to people despite my best efforts. I get ghosted by everyone new I’ve met so far, since the ECT.

It’s taken over 10 years to speak and communicate in an articulate way again. I couldn’t word-find, and would lose track of what I had just been talking about, trying to think of a word as simple as “coffee.” As I was saying, I have an education background in Aerospace Engineering and Construction Management. I clean houses now and do senior caregiving.

New memories still don’t stick all that well. I can only say half, maybe less, of big eventful happenings I can remember a month later. Frustrating. At least I can tell you what I had for breakfast this morning now.

Emotionally I’m trying my absolute best, but not really winning on this front. My self-esteem and self-worth are virtually non-existent. It is hard to move on when every day, I am reminded of what I have lost. All it takes is for someone to say, “Remember when…”

ECT was the worst choice I ever made, in my lost life. Even not remembering all my mistakes, I’m 100% sure that this was the worst, a thousand times over.

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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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67 COMMENTS

  1. Erika, Thank you for sharing your experience. It is validating, as I have a similar experience with ECT. It took years for me to even understand how badly I’d been hurt by it.

    It seems that all we can do is provide testimony regarding the heinous acts committed by the psychiatric profession, and hope that some day something changes for the better.

    I also lost so many memories, including memories of my son’s childhood. The pain is unending. And not only did it not help my emotional state in any way shape or form, it disabled me. As an administrative assistant, I needed to have short term memory and basic cognitive skills but ECT took them away. After a year of abject humiliation (I didn’t share with my employer that I’d had ECT), constantly making errors at work and being called into meetings with HR where my supervisors would present a list of all of the most recent ways I had failed at my job, I went on SSDI. The kicker was that after the ECT, the psychiatrist who’d recommended it said, in the most dismissive tone (the look on his face was like he smelled a foul odor …that I do remember), “You have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work.”. I was too afraid to ask him what borderline personality disorder was or why he couldn’t have diagnosed me with it before he recommended the ECT for what he had called my “treatment resistant depression”. After that, he kept me on antidepressants (another thing that made no sense but that I was afraid to question) and added anti-psychotics to the mix.

    I know what you mean about the trouble socializing. I am extremely isolated and have been for years. I don’t feel comfortable around people. They all seem to have led much fuller lives than I have, and the things I have done, I often don’t remember. If someone asks whether I read a certain book or saw a certain movie, I usually have to guess at the answer. I had just completed all of the coursework for a master’s degree when I had the ECT. I had hoped to be a teacher, but that dream died along with many others.

    Sometimes I hope there is life after death because I think psychiatrists should have to face what they’ve done. They lead such privileged lives and enjoy so much status while their victims are repeatedly gaslit, silenced and shunned.

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    • Erika & KateL thank you so
      Much for sharing. I too am a victim of ECT. At least 3 series plus maintainence ECT for…I don’t remember how many
      months or was it years??? I really don’t remember.
      The ECT started in 1984 & went on off & on until
      1990. Then clozaril came on board. Then OCD … Basically ECT plus drugs turned me into a career mental patient at 17 years old.
      I would say I’m sorry to you both for having this coereced upon you, but I’m
      Trying to stop taking responsibility for things that are simply not my fault.
      For decades the psychiatrists have convinced everyone that all the harms they cause with ECT and drugs are their victims fault. So I
      Won’t say I’m sorry.
      Instead I will say I AM OUTRAGED on your behalf and mine at the psychs who did this. How could anyone possibly STILL be believing them that electricity cursing through the brain could possibly be a good curative treatment???

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        • l do upset for you. my god help you and all of us. ECT is torture. ECT is not cure. noone in turkey was not making a noise because everyone was fear from state and society and family. we are making a noise. psycihatries continuous lie.

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        • Hi. I don’t know where to post a comment so I decided to do it here. I have a completely different ECT story and experience. I say that it literally shocked me back to life. I had been suicidally depressed for almost a year, attempting once but not succeeding. I was catatonic and also, due to something wrong with my feet I couldn’t walk. I watched tv and obsessed about dying. That was it. After my first ECT treatment I was “back”. My mother could tell just by looking in my eyes. It was shocking. And whatever was wrong with my feet was also gone. I had about 4 months of treatments and stopped. I share this because I am an exception and think it’s important for people who want all sides to hear. This was 18 years ago. I have had bouts of depression since and also did TMS which worked for me as well. That ended the Friday before we were put on lockdown here so I won’t forget that date! I feel such sadness for all of the people who have had such negative experiences with ECT. I would be so angry if that were me. I don’t know why my case was so successful but I am eternally grateful for ECT. I would say that I think trying TMS first would be a good idea.

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      • Blu, you inadvertently wrote “cursing through the brain” instead of “coursing.” But actually, “cursing” strikes me as a fine metaphor to describe the physical havoc wrought over many decades by various harmful somatic “treatments’ such as insulin coma therapy, ECT, neurotoxins, lobotomies, or by the emotional anguish that results from the stigmatizing, degrading, humiliating diagnoses with which self-styled mental health professionals label their patients on the basis of arbitrarily concocted, scientifically invalid DSM categories. This entire corrupt field is truly a curse to its countless victims.

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    • That’s insane. There is no medical background for such procedure, it’s the equivalent of dark ages surgery.

      Make new memories. Hold on to the near future. Don’t let the learned hopelessness limit your life any further. Sending a hug!

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    • There is life after death ..hold onto hope .faith in GOD is the only way…I’ve also had extreme memory loss and thru my faith I’ve learnt to heal. I also had an encounter where I saw heaven it’s a place of paradise …pray to receive it ..it’s a gift but no one can have it if they don’t want it .pray 4 healing

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    • So sorry for your experience. I have an opinion to share about BPD.

      I am so angry when hearing of hearing Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis.

      I am sure some people have genuine symptoms of BPD.
      In my opinion MOST people who have a diagnosis of BPD do not actually have it.

      Bordeline Personality Disorder has become the “catch all” for people who diagnose when they have no idea what is going on with someone, especially if that someone is a female.

      Females slapped with a BPD diagnosis from a clueless psych worker is the new scourge of the psych industry. Lazy, clueless, uncaring psychiatrists etc. put this stigmatizing label on many female clients, just because they are too unwilling or stupid to actually figure out what is bothering them. Like the ADHD craze for male children, BPD has become the new go to for adult females.

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  2. My IQ once clocked in at 120.
    “They” harmed us, and got away with it. “They” played us for chumps.

    The only good I can imagine all that intelligence did for us is – we did escape. We are no longer their pawns. I am in the same isolated boat, and I console myself with “at least I am free”. Even the minor drama that once happened in my life is too much for regular folks. And so I pretend that playing Bingo is my favorite (when I would much prefer discussing A.I.)

    Erica – you are younger than I by several decades … so I am really speaking to my younger self when I say “there will be new dreams, maybe they’ll be better” (song – Circle Game)

    I so totally love each and every day. That was never possible with “their” treatments.
    We did escape. For that, I am grateful.

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  3. ECT is torture. it is electrocuted 420 volt to brain in ECT. this burn. it need 120 volt to light a light bulb. rosenhan’s test is very right. thomas szazs is very right. psychiatry in turkey condemns to live with family. a family and state and society in turkey exploit a people who was diagnosed by psychiatry

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  4. My heart goes out to all of you who have been harmed by ECT. That is tragic!

    None-the-less, over the last 40 years I have seen a number of people who have been truly helped by ECT and have gotten their lives back because of it. Apparently everyone responds very differently. One attractive young woman, married, involved in her church and successful home business, told me that about every six months or so, she’d feel this deep dark depression engulfing her and she’d secretly have several ECT treatments and feel good again. No one but her husband knew about this. She did have some short term memory loss, but it faded quickly. ECT enabled her to have a fully functional life.

    I worked for about 13 years on a psych unit as a mental health worker, I saw several people get their lives back because of ECT. The psychiatrists I worked with were very caring, compassionate and only used ECT when all else failed. Just like with psych meds., apparently everyone responds very differently to ECT.

    In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is acknowledged that people have very different bodily, emotional and mental structures and therefore need very different solutions for healing and lifestyle. In western psych, this is not acknowledge. For instance, about 15 to 30% of the human population are Highly Sensitive People (HSPs.) This is not a psych diagnosis, just a biological fact. This is true for animals too. Someone rings the doorbell and one dog runs up barking at the door while the other one hides in the bedroom.
    HSPs cannot tolerate chaos, noise, crowds, certain types of light, neurotoxins such as perfumes, colognes, air fresheners and many medicines or forms of anesthesia. Most HSPs learn to fit in and act “normal,” even though many situations are quite toxic for them.
    And perhaps HSPs may be the ones who cannot tolerate ECTs. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I don’t know.
    If you want to know more about HSPs, Google Elaine Aron or take this short self-test. https://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/

    My best to all of you- may 2024 be your best year yet!

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    • Don’t tell other people’s stories. It’s creepy. The brief encounter you had with an “attractive young woman” does not give you the right to broadcast something she said to you once, privately. Many people change their minds about thinking they’ve been helped by ECT years later…that’s how long it takes to understand the enormity of the damage done.

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    • “And perhaps HSPs may be the ones who cannot tolerate ECTs. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I don’t know.”

      Top tier gaslighting. No, you don’t know. I’d like to know how well you would “tolerate” some high voltage jolts of electricity through the brain.

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    • The fact that you compare electroshock to a doorbell ringing tells me everything I need to know, Tom. Gee I hope the highly sensitive dog doesn’t suffer a grand mal seizure and long term brain damage from the doorbell ringing.

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    • I feel uncomfortable educating or reminding a former mental health care staff, worker, whatever, that actually, as per the rhetoric of at least one expert during a trial on the harms of ECT, retrograde amnesia “can’t” be meassured in the “clinic”, and therefore practitioners do not meassure it.

      They, in short, apparently “can’t” meassure it, even in research. And there is not, there is not, it does not exist, her testimony, a clinical “valid” test to meassure that in a victim*/patient of ECT. Before AND AFTER ECT.

      So, assuming that expert testimony is true, it is in the legal record, posted on the legal firm’s website advocating for the harmed individual, under the oath to tell the true, I assume.

      So, if true, that means ANY claim side effects are temporary is FALSE. Trivialy, one of the most serious one can’t be meassured by a psychiatry practitioner.

      Stated thus, retrograde amnesia has not been properly researched, per the expert’s testimony. And a psychiatrist cannot meassure it in a patient, per her testimony.

      And, doubly uncomfortable, what this article describes, and many testimonials at MIA do, is precisely harm to retrograde memory.

      So, your comment seems to me false in a very pernicious way, per expert testimony in the legal record, at least, it is misleading, I think offensive to those harmed by ECT, and reflects ignorance, respectfully, from someone that should know better, BEFORE invoking a sort of professional knowledge or experience in something as controversial as ECT.

      Stated thus, at least imprudent, if not, excuse me, respectfully, perhaps, negligent. As a comment and my opinion, not as fact or a claim, without intention to offend or cause you harm, not even discomfort.

      * The use of the word victim is mine, the refered expert, as far as I remember, never used that word.

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    • I have no idea what the “attractive young woman”‘s attractiveness has anything to do with the efficacy of ECT. Also, I do not think this is the space for the perpetrators of this treatment to be making blanket statements about how it worked for someone else (from your perspective, and you have no idea how she’s doing now or what was actually going on in her mind at the time of tx). Alot or people will act like they are doing better to escape the abusive mental health system. Once you experience terrifying things and are not treated like a human, you realize that this system isn’t going to help you and its in fact only going to continue hurting you UNLESS WAIT UNLESS, you act like you’re cured! I often wonder how much situations like the aforementioned and the general stigma leads people to feign feeling better, and I wonder what impact this has on statistics of treatment efficacy. Just some food for thought.

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      • Rain, yes, I think there’s a version of Stockholm syndrome that can happen with patients in the psych system, particularly in cases of forced or coercive treatment, inpatient treatment, and terrifying “treatments” like ECT.
        It’s so confusing to be told repeatedly by everyone that what they’re doing to you is “help”, that “you need help and these are the people that provide the help and this is what the help looks like”, eventually you just go along with it and smile and thank the good doctors for the help even if some part of you knows it’s hurting you, you just become so desperate and confused.

        I know it happened to me and it was most powerful after the ECT and the borderline diagnosis, when I wound up in DBT. I was so pliable and smiled through so much additional abuse. “Look at me, I’m smiling, I’m using my GIVE skills, I’m ever so grateful for your life saving therapy, please don’t hurt me.”

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    • Well, the problem, as a former practitioner and somewhat of an aspiring scientisit, I can claim that doing something that requires perfect execution, in the best scenario is a recipe for disaster.

      Particularly when it can harm another human being.

      Good, solid, usefult things are resilient to failure, if it depends on a talented, outstanding individual, is for the most part, not worth doing. We all make mistakes, we drop the ball, so depending on perfect execution on “our” part gives us tremendous obligation, and as far I understand, eventually we will fail with catastrophic consequences.

      If that sounds abstract, without grounding in reality, just consider how many checks requires to fly an airplane: pilots have a lot of lights, checks buttons and checklists to fill before pushing the pedal “into” the runway. A mistake not only could mean fatalities for the passengers but for whole populated cities if it were to be that bad.

      Consider also this: 3 people going to the moon required thosands? dozens of thousands? checklists, animals experiments, etc., to be more or less sure 3 people, 3 humans, three, were as safe to return. And to chance was left as little as it could be…

      So, leaving it to the experts alone, without checks, without depending “only” on their smarts, talents, knwoledge and stamina was not done even in the 60s. Admiting those 3 folks, three, were outstanding, the top of the top. And even then, it was not let up to their “judgement” to return alone. It required thousands of people to be sure they had the best chance to just return, let alone return safely…

      So, leaving it to an anesthesiologist, and a psychiatrist who without further ado claims to be an “expert”, and some hospital comitee the wellbeing of a human being on that alone, sounds to me, stated thus, the ultimate folly: “we” didn’t learn from those experiences, Apollo 13, the burning chimps, the dog’s left to fry or freeze in space, because “we” didn’t knew better and needed to learn, for whatever reason.

      That was the 60s, and yes we didn’t knew better and some folks wanted to get to the moon…

      But, surely, now, ECT won’t get us to the moon, won’t win the cold war, and we wouldn’t do ECT to a chimp, just a chimp, without further checks and balances. Without public notice and knowledge. Without a clear discussion to see if it’s worth submitting a chimp to ECT, just to “find out”, to “know” what happens if we do that…

      For less than that, people have chained themselves to universities because they disagree, for less than that, they have stopped such “research”…

      Why, psychiatry does that to a HUMAN BEING, without FULL disclosure?. Without evidence?.

      Because a human is worth less than a chimp?.

      Because “we” don’t know better?.

      Common, we do know better…

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is so validating to read. I, too, was once intelligent with a memory like a steel trap. But I also had suicidal depression that wouldn’t lift. In 2016 my psychiatrist recommended ECT. I had 16 rounds. And really it didn’t help. But it did change my brain. After years of complaining to my PCP of memory loss, slower thinking, loss of sense of direction he finally sent me to a neurologist. After an MRI and neuropsych testing it was discovered that I have moderate, generalized brain atrophy. I was also diagnosed with amnesia and my IQ went from 145 to 118. I have completely lost myself and everything that made me me. And at 53, that’s a lot. When my parents got dementia, my hope for them was that they didn’t realize what was happening to them. I can’t imagine there being a worse situation to be in. But that’s where i am nowInstead of ECT stopping my suicidal thoughts it’s had the effect of intensifying them. I’m so sorry this has happened to you, but by you sharing your story I feel less alone. Thank you.

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  6. I have dealt with severe depression for over 20 years. After having ECTs to try to save myself and my family from depression’s emptying of our souls. It took my family, job but could never accept that the ECTs scrambled and erased memories and thus myself. I have tried to described this void for years. Thank you. Wish i could find help

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  7. I am heartbroken and outraged by these stories and countless others of the mental health profession failing and abusing people like you and me. To everyone here who continues to struggle with their mental health, I hope you can find the support, treatment and help that you need. Please keep searching for answers and treatments that work for you. Maybe ECT is the answer for some, but nobody should be bullied or manipulated into any treatment. I was referred to ECT treatment by a quack of a psychiatrist without so much as a conversation (just a couple of emails) I researched it and went for a consultation with the ECT specialist, and what I learned frightened me. I pushed back and insisted on a referral to TMS, which is what I requested in the first place! Initially, this quack told me that before referring me to TMS, I had to try ECT. Why try an invasive and traumatic treatment before a non-invasive option with no down time and minimal known side effects? I stood my ground. I have researched and read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to depression and anxiety treatments. I have tried multiple antidepressants, talk therapy, meditation, ketamine, TMS and psilocybin. What has worked best for me has been a combination of regular meditation, talk therapy, TMS and psilocybin. I have had to claw my way through every referral with multiple mental health professionals and bureaucrats at my insurance company. Like many others, I have faced the condescension and skeptical looks from the very professionals that are supposed to help me. If the pills didn’t work, it must be my fault. If pills would help keep me off the edge of the dark abyss that is severe depression and anxiety, I would gladly take 20 pills a day and accept the many side effects! If only it were that easy! Don’t be afraid to push back and hold mental health professionals accountable. You are the customer and they are the providers of service. When a psychiatrist questioned the benefits I was reporting with TMS when requesting maintenance treatments (implying the placebo effect), my response to her was something along the lines of “Can you measure depression and anxiety improvement using a lab or radiology test? The answer is no, so I am the only one that can tell you what helps me and what doesn’t. Correct? And Dr. S
    Doe, have you ever had severe clinical depression and anxiety? Have you ever had any type of treatment for severe clinical depression and anxiety? (the answer to both questions was no). So, when you do, we can compare notes on symptoms, and treatments and their efficacy”. If you are not in a position to advocate for yourself, I hope you can find someone in your life that can advocate for you. It was very difficult, but after decades of suffering mental illness in secret, I opened up to my family and some close friends. I am very fortunate that my vulnerability was met with love and support.

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  8. I am so relieved to have found Erika’s story and these comments afterwards and know that our voices might just be beginning to be heard, now. I had 8-12 (I don’t remember) ECT treatments in the summer of 2007. I used to be a university professor and loved teaching literature. I didn’t realize how much I had lost at the time of the treatments, as I was too busy trying to remember how to drive my car or make a meal on a gas stove without setting myself on fire. My vocabulary had disappeared. Not a good look for a poet, is it? Like all of us here in these comments, I had lost my sense of self. I couldn’t sign my name, my brain wouldn’t “let” me spell my own name correctly. I would mean to type one word in an email, but would look at the screen and see that my fingers had typed something different.

    I was angry for a very long time. Not, incidentally, at my own doctor, who had been taught in medical school that ECT can be very effective. I sincerely believe he thought it was the right thing to do in the situation. I was angry that aspiring psychiatrists are still exposed to this as a viable form of treatment for depression that is resistant to other more traditional medications.

    I, too, didn’t understand why I still had to take antidepressants afterwards, and why it took 7-8 months to find a combination of different meds that actually started to lift the heaviness of the depression I had carried.

    ECT? I would rather have been pushed off a cliff, found mangled at the bottom, and spent the next six months in traction.

    I was so angry that I fought hard to recover my vocabulary, and started doing LSAT practice tests to improve my critical thinking skills. I also had a comprehensive testing with a local service to see how much brain damage had been caused, but interestingly, the doctor conducting the study sensed my anger and seemed to believe that I was deliberately trying to skew my responses, and said as much in her statement.

    I wasn’t.

    I had to take early disability retirement from my job.

    My heart goes out to anyone who has had ECT. It isn’t the cure-all it’s advertised as being.

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  9. If you’ve never had ECT, it’s not your place to comment. Go get some ECT first before you talk about how wonderful and life saving it is. Just like if you’ve never been raped, don’t talk about what it’s like to be raped. You don’t know.

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  10. That reminds me a folk I met almost two decades ago…

    Some of us used to “joke” about it, regretably now, I could not apologize enough, about him being unfreezed from a time gone by.

    Sadly, now, I suspect, he was a victim of ECT.

    Just, I didn’t suspect that back then. He, perhaps, was there, he saw the movies, he had the experiences… just… he couldn’t remeber… there is some evidence he saw what we saw, just he couldn’t remember…

    Wish I knew better back then, and for that, I am very sorry…

    I really am, I am sorry, and I can’t change joking about it.

    I am sorry JI. I really am…

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  11. Thank Erika, your clear and candid description helps me better grasp how ECT was the ‘straw that broke the camels back’ in my daughter’s last effort to win the struggle against anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, she lost. I can better understand the despair and hopelessness she went through following her bout of treatments and that likely, her fears of not recovering her sense of self were not unfounded. Praying that you find healing and again experience joy in your life.

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    • Sarah,
      My heart goes out to you, loosing your daughter.
      I keep trying this last year again, but I don’t know why I bother.
      For every winner, I find there is always one or more losers in this game of life. It’s unfortunate.
      Thanks for being supportive and reading my story.
      Erika

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  12. It was in a psychiatric institution that I first saw a person having a spontaneous seizure. It is shocking to witness. Even one seizure is an assault on the brain and the body. For doctors and nurses to deliberately damage our brains is outrageous yet, it is still common practice in psychiatry. Then the electroshock machines are not safe or effective and when with the aid of an anaesthetic, much more electricity is necessary to create a seizure, it is much more damaging than a spontaneous seizure.
    We need our memories to understand ourselves. They are part of who we are. It is a crime against humanity to deprive us of our precious memories.
    Thank you Erika for speaking out and everyone who adds their voices to yours!

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  13. Informative new presentation about the unending grift (financial conflicts of interest, FDA turning it’s back on people who report that they were harmed) preventing the truth about ECT from being exposed.

    There is still nothing close to informed consent in regard to ECT.

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  14. One thing I have not read, often?, at MIA, is how more damaging ECT might be when using antipsychotics.

    From my memory of research on antipyshcotics since at least the 90s, in animals, antipsychotics are neurotoxic. Beyond their anticholinergic effects. So, even newer ones should be also neurotoxic. It was proven in animals.

    So, treatment resistant depression, augmented therapy for depression, treatment of resistant/severe bioplar, or “reclacitrant” psychosis are usually, as far as I know, given antipsychotics as treatment.

    Adding ECT/antipsychotics might actually increase the brain damange by either antipsychotics or ECT alone.

    As far as I understood and rememeber. That was psychopharmacological knowledge back then, and that is still part of “biological” psychiatry, right?.

    Like, don’t use ECT in people who already has epilepsy or heart diseases, the treatment might increase the damage. Or people with already decreased brain blood flow, i.e. brain ischemic disease.

    But from testimonials and inferences, that subtlety of physiopathology, the changes in bodily function caused by disease, and neuropharmacology, the miriad, sufficient and enough description on brain function and susceptibility to harm by neurodrugs, is not exhibited by some, most?, all?, practitioners?.

    Even if at least the later, is what psychiatrists actually brag about being uniquely “competent”…

    Oh, oh, oh!, and lithium, as far as I understand is also neurotoxic, so, perhaps, speculating: antipsychotics, lithium AND ECT, on the basis of basic medical sciences should be a triple whammy against the brain…

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  15. Informative new presentation about the unending grift (financial conflicts of interest, FDA turning it’s back on people who report that they were harmed) preventing the truth about ECT from being exposed.

    There is still nothing close to informed consent in regard to ECT.

    https://youtu.be/ohaOaVznPxo?si=0L8_O9-UFii2P5q2

    (Presentation is by Linda Andre. I thought it was recent. I’m devastated to learn that this fierce fighter and advocate is no longer with us.)

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  16. Thank you (all) for the post and replies. Please know that this particular form of well-reimbursed form of medical torture is illegal in many countries. My Dad was given it when I was in 4th grade. He was never again the happy man I had known. He of course was misdiagnosed for PTSD from military service. But if you look at the scientific literature ECT only gives correctly diagnosed patients about 5 percent any improvement at all. Certainly no cures. ECT is banned in many countries. Ernest Hemingway was given it for depression. Wait, he was an alcoholic. How could it help? Well, it didn’t. You’d think his very articulate and bitter criticism would have taken it out of our medical system. But I guess the machines are expensive, the treatment easy and insurance pays well for it.

    OK. What can we do to educate the public and pressure lawmakers to ban it in this country?

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  17. The author shares a deeply personal account of the profound impact electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) had on their life, leading to extensive memory loss, impaired social interactions, and a struggle with self-esteem. The narrative underscores the challenges of living without a comprehensive memory timeline and the profound consequences of the treatment on the author’s identity and relationships.

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  18. I always knew ECT was some form of torture after reading the book and watching the movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. I understand it was just fiction. The book was based on what the author witnessed while working in the mental institutions. Nurse Ratchet and other medical professionals gave the ECT to Murphy as a form of punishment. After ECT Murphy came out unrecognizable to his former self.

    I don’t understand why ECT still being used today. Even when neuropsychological testing is not a complete science and there is too much symptom overlap with different diagnosises, which leads to misdiagnosed patients.

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  19. The folk singer Townsend Van Zandt started life as a very brilliant young man whose wealthy family began to groom him toward going into the law or perhaps being a senator or other public official. He was having too good a time in college pulling hijinks. I think he got suspended or ejected from one or two. They decided to try ECT. It ruined his brilliant mind. He was able to be a folk singer and live a primitive/simple life on some family land (i.e. he had enough family $ and resources to not end up homeless or institutionalized, he didn’t have to show up at a job and work, he had a place to live and an income from his family even if he hadn’t had his music), but he could never use his mind for higher level things again. His brilliant IQ was destroyed by ECT.

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  20. I’m homeless in California where I hear it’ll get easier to conserve people, but typically the death rates of people forcibly treated aren’t published, so who can be sure it’s good? So that’s unethical freedom infringement. Unfair procedures are a hostile environment, as thru them people can be hurt if they don’t please those in power unethically. So I think ethical people against that should join together to protect themselves as witnesses. They may get badly hurt by psychiatry for it, but it looks like psychiatry is set to do that sooner or later anyway to those who won’t please it unethically. But it’s important to not get tied up with people who aren’t for real about this. It’s easy for unethical people to pose, disrupt potential friendships, and frame people as wrong for biased reviewers.

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  21. Mine was not voluntary. Ridiculous situation…didn’t know about it until I had a brain scan a couple of years later.

    My “treatment providers “ deliberately made an example out of me and ruined my youth and any earnings potential I may have had in the process.

    No one wants to listen. Because of non compliance everything is somehow my fault. Too much involuntary shock? Should’ve stayed on your meds…

    Thanks for sharing your story. Honesty is key. Psychiatry really is the science of lies, and honesty is necessary for our survival.

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  22. I am someone who can look at both sides of ECT. The first time I had it did in fact cause relatively minor recent memory loss. I had gone through multiple hospital admissions lasting months. I had attempted suicide. I had been on countless different meds alone and then in combination. They tried everything and ECT was a last resort. I had a husband and two preteens. I wanted to feel better. At that point I had given up on ever feeling better, useful or normal. Hence suicide attempt. The ECT truly did work wonders. It was kind of like a reset. I was still on meds but I felt hopeful again.
    Then I moved across the country and my new doc felt I was much too young to be doing ECT for the rest of my life so as the effects wore off meds were reintroduced. Life was okay over the next 8 years but I was told that with my history it wasn’t likely that I would ever be able to go off meds. Chronic depression but controlled. Then another move. And another doctor but no substantial changes for 3 years. Still on 5 meds to control my depression but they are working. Then another move. This time to South Africa where my next doc after 6 months felt that if my liver was going to make it as long as the rest of me I needed to get off these meds. What did I think about ECT? Sure. Why not? It worked before.
    That brings me to the other side of ECT. It was HORRIBLE! I had been there six months. I remembered nothing and no one from our first six months. My husband’s job meant a lot of socializing. Everyone knew me but I hadn’t a clue. My loss was no where near as complete as the author’s but it was devestating. I still have only patchy memories from my children’s school age years. They are a bit better for the preschool years. But I still struggle with names, socializing, finding words and with the realization that my brain now had gaps and those gaps were here to stay. Luckily through pictures and stories etc. some of it is back in a kind of vague way and I will be okay with it as it is now. I’d rather I had never had the second set of treatments but such is hindsight.
    So what is it? Was it the way it was done? Was it my brain that was different somehow the second time? I’ll never know. And I will never allow anyone to do ECT on me again. I still feel that it was done as a last resort after a lot of really caring individuals had tried to help me the first time. I feel that it fit into some agenda the second time by a doctor who I lost all respect for over the next three years. I just wanted my scripts done so I went every three months for that. I couldn’t fathom dealing with yet another doctor.
    Anyway, long winded I know, but I really do see it from both sides. I very much doubt I’d still be here if not for the first treatment. But after the second I will NEVER agree to it again.

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  23. Erika, I’m so sorry about your experience. The fact is, as you well know, your ECT doctor lied to you. ECT can too often involve long-term memory loss and lead to difficult life experiences. I know from my own ECT (Michael E. Sturman, MIA, “State Hospital Memories: More of my Story,” “Committed at 16: State Hospital Memories”) that problems that follow ECT are nothing to laugh about. I was in high school at the time, and was able to return, but I had lost many of my past academic learning and capacity to remember things. I also had severe problems with speech and was unable to find simple words to say things in many cases. I was able to slowly improve, but the experience was very painful. The big problem is that no one know exactly how many have bad experiences with ECT or how many have good ones. The Shock Industry and American Psychiatric Association have not allowed research to go that far. If they had, my guess is your psychiatrist would not be telling you that you would only have short term problems. Given the current state of affairs, The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has posted the following warning about ECT: “…The long-term safety and effectiveness of ECT treatment has not been demonstrated” (https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-21/chapter-I/subchapter-H/part-882/subpart-F/section-882.5940). To get a prescription medication or medical device on the market, the FDA supposedly requires proof of its safety and effectiveness. Yet, this has not been the case with ECT. There have been many smaller studies, but not the large, random one required to provide the needed proof. We can only hope for a better future!

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    • Michael,
      It sucks, we are all here writing because of such an awful thing done, by medical “professionals”.
      My ECT psychiatrist and psychologist, both dropped me like a hot potatoe, when I started complaining of severe memory problems. After shocking me for a year, and convincing me they cared about me, then poof, nothing. No call, no how’s it going… nothing.
      Criminals. It all should be illegal, to make huge amounts of money, at the expense of people’s brain functioning.

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  24. Thank you for sharing your experience and how it has impacted you. I too recieved ECT, only a little over a year ago, while i was court committed. Only 24.
    I keep trying to explain to clinicians that I can’t even express to them the severity of the memory loss and cognitive issues, because I can’t REMEMBER. As soon as I have an issue doing something I used to be able to do with ease, I will just as quickly forget that it is even happening Its difficult to put into words, and it was comforting to see someone else describe it in this manner, because often i feel like im losing it, or just overreacting and complaining.
    I have such a difficult time remembering words, I pause for long periods of time when speaking, I can’t even function in my own home because I constantly forget what im doing or even thinking about. Everything is very tangential now.

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    • Rain,
      It is terrible you are experiencing these memory loss problems. They are debilitating, sorrowful, and life wrecking.
      Try everyday, like it was your only day to try. Then try the next day too. It’s the only way I’ve found to continue.
      The brain heals, but over years and decades, little bits by bit. Life isn’t long enough for that repair.
      Take care
      Erika

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  25. I haven’t read all comments, but I think a lot of unfair procedures can be used to, as much as possible, get people to think they’re being ethical when they aren’t best solving or preventing social problems–to exploit the differences in their perspectives and experiences to maximize unhealthy antagonism, rather than most healthily coordinate minds to best understand the whole truth. Eg, when staff meet with patients, it’s often not recorded for impartial review, for accountability.

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