Comments by Michael Sturman

Showing 12 of 12 comments.

  • our story is truly inspiring! After my own experiences in a state hospital when I was 16 (see “Committed at 16: Memories of a State Hospital” on this site) I was also truly lost. After ECT I had lost a good part of my academic skills. When I returned to school, I could not do what I could before. It seemed my family was always coming down on me for every little thing with threats of returning me to the state hospital. And my head was so full of frighting thought about the state hospital and shock treatments, I could hardly think. On top of that my father wouldn’t take me to anywhere for help, and our family doctor was constantly spouting genetics theories of mental illness to me. Hewanted me to accept I was had a “genetic illness” and was more-or-less doomed for life. On top of everything, he refused to prescribe psychiatric medicine for me. It was years before I was able to recover a semblance of my former self.

  • I’m sorry you had such a hard time with your illness. Shock treatment is not the “miracle” some would make it out to be. Just the opposite. Everybody’s experience is different. Mine was at 16 when I was committed to a state hospital. I was given the muscle relaxant without a sedative, and experienced excruciating pain. Afterwards, I had daily painful, intrusive memories which made it hard for me to concentrate on anything else for years, long-lasting depression, a loss of the capacity to learn, and a decline in school grades. The FDA warns that: “…The long-term safety and effectiveness of ECT treatment has not been demonstrated.” (Code of Federal Regulation, Electroconvulsive Therapy Device, 21 CFR 882.5940). If you are interested, you can read more about my horrible experiences in MAD:
    “The Shady World of Shock Treatment,” and “Committed at 16: Memories of a State Hospital.”

  • Lori, You are not alone in being tragically left behind by Psychiatry. My parents didn’t get me the help I needed from a mental health professional for the three years I showed symptoms before I had to be hospitalized when I was 16. The care I received in the hospital was horrendous and left me with problems for the rest of my life. If you’re interested, I’ve written about my own experiences. (See “Memories of a State Hospital” in MAD).

  • I was a surprised to see that the NYC Mayor, Eric Adams, has devised a new plan for the involuntary commitment of homeless persons who cannot take care of themselves due to mental illness. In recent time there has been a great effort in this country to not institutionalize vast numbers of people in run down public facilities against their will as in the past. Starting in the 1960’s, after the introduction of new psychiatric medications and Social Security Disability (SSI), a vast exodus from the state hospitals was begun. With little or no planning, those who had no other resources were placed in for-profit private foster homes or residential hotels where they received little or none of the care they needed. Increasing, a large number who didn’t fit there or anywhere else were left to fend for themselves on the streets. Belatedly, public officials have been forced to cope with the problems of this vast number of displaced individuals. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that Mayor Adams or other public officials are prepared to deal with the magnitude or complexity of the problem. What is needed is not a return to the overcrowded state hospital and their abuse and neglect of the mentally ill of the past, but an upgraded hospital system and discharge to facilities offering ample mental health and other services. Otherwise, after a brief stint in the hospital to get symptoms under control, it is a return to the streets and a recurrence of problems. Also of concern is Mayor Adam’s idea of involuntary commitment following a brief evaluation by police officers. There have been too many complaints about commitments based on flimsy grounds and the outright dishonesty to hospitals where they are held against their will for extended periods of time.

  • Dear Kathleen, After my own experience with ECT (“Committed at 16: State Hospital Memories,” MIA, Jan.23, 2000), I was very interested in what you had to say. You mentioned that you were initially apprehensive about losing previous memories. The fact is a goodly number of people do have serious post-ECT memory difficulties. Some are so seriously damaged that they cannot ever resume their former education or employment. Unfortunately, there has never been a valid determination of what proportion of ECT patients have serious long-term memory difficulties. If that were known, prospective ECT patients would know the risk they’re taking. But the way things are it is hard to know even that—something like playing the crap tables at Las Vegas or even Russian Roulette. For the short-term relief ECT provides, it just doesn’t seem worth it. You said that even now, four years later, your capacity for rote learning and memory are “completely shot.” You ask why isn’t the Psychiatric care system more responsible? You, like so many of the rest of us who have suffered, deserve answers, not more misinformation and false promises. Here is the bottom line: The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) warns that “…When used as intended… [an ECT device]… provides short-term relief of symptoms. The long-term safety and effectiveness of ECT treatment has not been demonstrated.” (21 CFR 882.5940 (b)(1)(ix)(G)).

  • Marni, The posted article has fewer references than the original to make it more readable. The original had over 50 references to books, articles, and federal statutes. I’d be glad to send it to you If you have a Facebook page, send me a friend request, and I’ll send the original to you. My Facebook name is Michael E. Sturman. Otherwise, Facebook will not allow us to connect. Or an e-mail would do. I think when you see the original article, you’ll see there is good reason to question the safety and effectiveness of ECT for many people. I am sure you are aware there are always some people who benefit from the placebo effect of a medical procedure or drug when others report no effect or harm. That’s why I argue it’s important to find out what’s going on with MRI scan and Neuropsychological testing. I think it is wrong to go on with ECT “as usual” without knowing more.

  • Come trip with me to old Commitment State
    Where they rot your brain with electroshock,
    Until half of what you learned was forgot.
    And tranquilizers keep you half dead, half awake.
    There’s no good treatment here—don’t make a mistake!

    Nor terrorism something you just hear about in the news.
    They kick your ass and choke you until you’re black-n- blue.
    And then they lie about what they do.
    No sweet memories of Old Commitment State!
    Just nightmares to haunt you asleep or awake!

  • You might consider the DK Law Group. Their main office is in California but they have offices nationwide. They were the ones who represented the plaintiffs successful in a recent law suit against the manufacturers of electroshock machines for failure to warn of the risks in using their equipment. Also, you can contact your local lawyer’s referral service or bar association to find someone to represent you.

  • Laura, I know what it’s like to be caught in a mental health system that grossly fails to provide for your needs. If you like, you can read my personal account of what the state hospital was like for me at 16 under my name on this website. Don’t give up! Perhaps now your Psychiatrist and social worker will find another way for you after they see your article and all the support you’ve received. Why don’t you send it to them? Also, a lawyer who does mental health work could help. Michael E. Sturman, M.A.

  • What protections against revealing their mental health history do those with such histories have? I can imagine what would happen if an employer or prospective employer learned that you had a history of schizophrenia. Does the Americans with Disabilities Act or other laws offer protection? If so, where can I find the relevant sections of the statutes?