I believe now that fifteen years is more than a fair try. Fifteen years of getting treatment without returning to function is actually insanity. I should have given up after year two. Instead of trusting my intuition and insight, I pushed it down and down... until it finally fought its way back to the surface.
The Irish Times reports that a judge has ordered ECT for a 16-year-old with depression and an eating disorder. The doctor asked the court...
The #FDAStopTheShockDevice petition has received over 2,200 signatures and 800+ comments. A more thorough analysis of those comments is forthcoming, however, we wanted to offer a glimpse of what people shared. The sixth, seventh, and eighth most common words used in the comments submitted through the petition were "damage," "barbaric" and "torture." We must continue the fight to make sure that the FDA hears the people who will be adversely affected by the proposed rule if it becomes an order. There is still a small window of time for you to sign the petition and leave a comment to the FDA.
A dilemma for all of us who are struggling to broaden our understanding of human distress beyond simplistic, pessimistic, bio-genetic ideology, and to improve our mental health services accordingly, is whether or not to soften our criticisms of psychiatry in the hope of reaching those psychiatrists whose minds are not totally closed. But doing so rests on the assumption that change can come from within the profession. For the last few decades examples of that are few and far between.
I don't usually talk about this much because it's still somewhat traumatizing. I don't really do advocacy around shock treatment because it still triggers too much stuff. But this is a modern day advanced story of medical harms and misinformation, and you should comment on the FDA ruling.
As part of the effort to stop the down-classification of the shock device, on March 24, 2016, people who are psychiatric survivors, shock survivors, allies, and MindFreedom International members sent a 47-page public complaint to the FDA Ombudsman Office and Medical Devices Ombudsman concerning the FDA's attempts at down-classifying the shock device. Here are some excerpts. Please sign the petition and add your support to our growing strength!
This is the final of four installments about the bizarre, ongoing conduct of psychiatrists at Upton House, an Eastern Health psychiatric facility in Melbourne, and the collusion with their conduct by all relevant agencies. This last installment will document the failure, so far, of the State and Federal Governments to intervene in even this most extreme and blatant example of abuse of power by psychiatry. If I, as a Professor of Clinical Psychology with 40 years clinical and research experience in this field, can be so easily dismissed/ignored by the relevant systems in Victoria, what chance do the average users of mental health services and their families have of being heard in this State?
I am trying to demonstrate, in a series of installments, how in the 21st century we still often fail to establish effective safeguards for the rights of people who end up in our psychiatric systems. This particular example is taking place in 2016, in Melbourne, and involves over 50 consecutive electro shock ‘treatments’ and multiple, sometimes very lengthy, periods of being tied to a bed. In this third installment, I offer my interactions with another body who is supposed to protect our rights when under the ‘care’ of psychiatrists, the Mental Health Tribunal.
I do not wish to discuss an individual patient. I wish to discuss the conduct of the psychiatrists at Upton House, Dr Katz in particular, who have been responsible for the administering of over 50 ECTs consecutively to a patient, and have reportedly repeatedly restrained this patient to a bed, on one occasion for approximately 60 consecutive days.
Over the past few weeks I have been witness to, and increasingly involved in trying to stop one of the most extreme examples of psychiatric brutality I have encountered in my 40 years in this field. And I have encountered quite a few. I suggest you sit down before watching and reading. This is not your usual, run-of-the-mill psychiatric abuse story.
Depressed, anxious, and substance-abusing people can beat themselves up for being defective. And psychiatrists and psychologists routinely validate and intensify their sense of defectiveness by telling them that they have, for example, a chemical-imbalance defect, a genetic defect, or a cognitive-behavioral defect. For some of these people, it feels better to believe that they are essentially defective. But the “defect/medical model of mental illness” is counterproductive for many other people—especially those “untalented” in denial and self-deception—for whom there is another model and path that works much better.
On December 29, 2015, the FDA proposed reclassifying ECT, essentially approving of its routine clinical use. I submitted a statement to FDA, explaining why the FDA should ban ECT until it goes through rigorous testing. I urge others to respond quickly to the FDA’s call for comments.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is attempting to reclassify the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) device for use in treating severe depression (MDE) or bipolar “disorder” (BPD). The device is currently a class III device and the proposal is to make it a class II device.
I have long been concerned with the way society responds to people who come back from war. Veterans are routinely funneled into psychiatry’s grasp. Over the decades, some people who fought in wars have shared with me their experiences of being psychiatrized upon return from war. Sometimes these experiences included veterans being stripped of their second amendment rights, and a host of other constitutional, civil, and human rights violations as they began to be forced into complying with psychiatric regimens, and on several occasions this included veterans being subjected to electroshock.
Despite the promises of two successive governments to end forced shock treatment in Ireland, unwilling patients are still being forced to undergo the therapy, according to the Sunday Independent. “Writer Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide shortly after ECT, is reported to have said before his death: ‘It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.’"
In 2014, then National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director, Thomas Insel, speculated that ketamine “might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.” A recent review of the research suggests that while ketamine may produce a rapid short-term improvement in depression, the effect is short-lived and the potential for addiction and dependence warrants considerable caution.
What do we owe to shock survivors when they die? We owe them what we owe everyone who underwent an atrocity that is ongoing, that is being visited on others daily—doing something about that atrocity. Given that shock is anything but a legitimate medical procedure, it is minimally a moment to renew our commitment and our pledge to both bring an end to this treatment and to build a world where brain-damaging people in the name of help would be unthinkable.
On May 16, our human rights movement carried out 25 protests against shock treatment in 9 countries. It was very exciting to see both old hands and new leaders pulling together to make this happen. Now we can take advantage of this momentum to organize an ongoing structure that can carry out more actions like this and strengthen our movement. Congratulations to us!
It is often not appreciated by the individuals receiving electrically induced convulsions that any gains they receive from the procedure will almost certainly be short-lived, and that the "treatment" will need to be repeated more or less indefinitely at intervals of about a month. Case studies can be helpful and informative, but they tell us little or nothing on the general questions of safety and efficacy.
Regaining power over our own health was the goal of Ivan Illich’s 1976 book Medical Nemesis, which detailed an epidemic of physician-caused death and illness. This epidemic continues, and so does an epidemic of physician-caused anger, despair and crazy-appearing behaviors. In 2013, the Journal of Patient Safety reported that the “true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients is estimated at more than 400,000 per year,” making it the third leading cause of death in the United States It is especially drug use errors, communication failures and diagnostic errors that result in another medical nemesis: They can make us appear—and sometimes feel—like we’re “crazy.”
On May 16, 2015, protests against electroconvulsive therapy or ECT will take place around the world. To support this educational campaign, I am releasing my newest Simple Truths about Psychiatry video which is titled “Shock Treatment is Trauma.” Ted Chabasinski, an attorney, is an organizer of the protest. Ted recently talked about his personal experiences and the upcoming protests on my radio show, “The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.” We agreed that money and power is not the only motivation of shock doctors. Many are taking out their violent impulses on their helpless victims.
On several occasions I have written about the complexities of antipsychiatry politics, exploring more specifically, how to “do our politics” in a way that moves society squarely in the direction of the abolitionist goal. In this article, I am once again theorizing the “how” of activism—for understanding this territory is critical to maximizing effectiveness. However, this time round, I am approaching it from an angle at once more general and more practical. That is, I am investigating the tools or approaches at our disposal as activists.