Electroshock and Rehab

Lauren Tenney, an awesome shock survivor ally, has dedicated another episode of Talk With Tenney to electroshock survivor issues. I hope you will tune in, and, if you’re up for it, call in and take part this Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Below covers some of the topics we hope to discuss in the show. It’s also an intro for my upcoming blog series on electroshock and rehab with the goal of providing survivors, allies and laypeople information on this situation and resources to help survivors in their recovery.  

Shock Induced Brain Damage, Rehab or Lack Thereof


Electroshock causes brain damage leading to a myriad of cognitive problems including:

  • memory loss

    • retrograde amnesia  (past memories)
    • anterior grade amnesia (ability to make new memories)
    • working memory loss (ability to hold small chunks of information in mind for short of spans of time)
  • inability to pay attention or focus
  • impaired executive functioning (planning, filtering out irrelevant information, staying on task)
  • slowed processing speed
  • sensory disintegration
  • loss of intelligence
  • aphasia

    • word finding difficulties
    • difficulty speaking

All of the above greatly impact a person’s ability to function in everyday life. It also makes it incredibly difficult to learn and retain new information;essential skills for work, education and living.

This damage is devastating. To make matters worse for the survivor, all the above is almost always denied by psychiatrists and the medical profession in general.

This shameful denial creates major barriers for the survivor to receive expensive cognitive testing (my first IQ test would have cost me $500 without insurance) and subsequent rehabilitation to regain or learn to  compensate for lost cognitive skills.

This is one of the more truly insidious aspects of electroshock.

Psychiatry damages survivors’ brains, then denies it, effectively depriving them of any testing and necessary rehabilitative services on top of the emotionally abusive gas-lighting.


Should the survivor get tested and gain access to rehab, treatments often fall short.

There’s Nothing Quite Like Shock Damage


I’ve spent several years sifting through every book or article on the brain and brain damage I can get my hands on, hoping to find something that will help me understand my cognitive problems and hopefully find some solutions. My main focus has been electroshock so target: the frontal lobes, their function, and what happens when this part of the brain is damaged. However, looking at the literature on the subject as well as the problems reported by survivors, I’ve realized shock induced brain damage is unique and won’t be fully understood and effective treatments won’t be developed until it’s researched.

This brings us right back to the issue of damage recognition. You can’t research or design treatments for a condition that the medical establishment denies exists.

Necessary research is unlikely to happen anytime soon because too many people have so much invested in shock; ideologies, egos, careers and livelihoods depend on continuation of this barbaric, dangerous, destructive and pseudo scientific procedure. The odds of unbiased, in-depth electroshock research taking place seems non-existent. After all, any damage recognition could open the lawsuit floodgates, and lead to possible abolition of this inhumane practice.

Scant information is even available on the subject of rehab for electroshock damage. Below are links to the most significant pieces I’ve found so far.

An ongoing study by New York State;Psychiatric Institute in currently underway on shock and rehab, with none other than Sarah Lisanby, a psychiatrist who advocated the downgrade of shock machines to class II,  participating.

An article about the above study 

Possible Side Effects and Rehabilitation For ECT Consumers

Cognitive rehabilitation: assessment and treatment of persistent memory impairments following ECT

As you can see, scant info and little or no action that would help struggling shock survivor; were pretty much left to fend for ourselves.

Should a survivor manage to convince a doctor to test them, and they get help it’s inadequet  because it’s not tailored to the specific needs of a survivor’s unique brain damage.

In my case, after much run around, I got set up with a competent speech and occupational therapy team.

My therapists were intelligent, compassionate, and at the top of their field, but they weren’t equipped to understand or treat my electroshock created problems to the degree I needed. Much of what we did was shooting in the dark.

My gains from 3 years of speech and occupational therapy have been amazing and life changing, but have been minuscule in context of the far-reaching severity of my poorly understood cognitive deficits that need to be corrected for me to regain my autonomy and self-sufficiency and enjoy my life.

Another barrier with therapies for any kind of cognitive impairment or learning disability, is the medical establishment’s reluctance acceptance and integration of the new science of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change after trauma or developmental differences) into therapies.

Now what?

Waiting for the psychiatric system to see sense and rectify this situation is likely a monumental waste of time. We need to stop waiting for an unlikely miracle and start taking matters into our own hands. 

Don’t get me wrong, we still need to fight for recognition, research and rehab, but we also need to take back control of our fates from psychiatrists and an indifferent medical system.

Though it may not seem like it, we have some advantages:

We live in the information age–so much knowledge is a click or book away

Shock survivors are truly extraordinary, resilient and resourceful people–our fantastic yet damaged brains still have potential waiting to be discovered and utilized  

I’ve seen proof of self-directed rehab success; In Linda Andre’s fabulous article, Electroshock as A head Injury. She touches on the harrowing efforts of survivors who found ways to regain their abilities on their own. This was a huge encouragement for me, and led me to experiment leading to a few significant gains. Sadly, there wasn’t more on self-help success from Andre or other sources. Believe me, I’ve looked– and continue to look. But that’s ok. I know it is possible  for others and have experienced it for myself.

So as mentioned above, this next year I’m going to do a series of posts that address these issues:

psychiatric denial of damage and repercussions

  • brain basics to help survivors better understand what happened to them  
  • helpful hacks I learned in speech and occupational therapy
  • assistive technology
  • exercises I’ve developed that have helped me
  • navigating an abelist society with hidden disability
  • how to do the college thing with cognitive disability  
  • alternative education options
  • and as I hope to start working in October, I will also share details of the process, along with what
  • brain-damage friendly jobs are available, assistive programs as well as dealing with Social Security while working 

    Stay tuned 🙂

Ableism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism

Andre, L. (1991, September). Electroshock as head injury. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://www.ect.org/effects/headinjury.html

Andre, L. (2009). chapter 11; anecdote or evidence. In Doctors of deception: What they don’t want you to know about shock treatment. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. (2012, March 20). Memory Training Program Shows Promise in Countering Memory Loss From ECT Treatment | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD). Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://bbrfoundation.org/discoveries/memory-training-program-shows-promise-in-countering-memory-loss-from-ect-treatment

Maeve A. Mangaoang, Jim V. Lucey, M. A., & Lucey, J. V. (2007, February 13). BJ Psych Advances. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from apt.rcpsych.org/content/13/2/90

New York State Psychiatric Institute, Prudic, MD, J., & Choi, PsyD, J. (2013). Cognitive Training for Memory Deficits Associated With Electroconvulsive Therapy – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01876758

Price, S. (2010, December 15). Answers About Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS AND REHABILITATION FOR ECT CONSUMERS. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from http://ectanswers.blogspot.com/2011/01/possible-side-effects-and.html?m=1

Rice, J. D. (2015, July 23). If You Call Electroshock by Any Other Name, Is it Still A Violent, Destructive, Pseudoscientific Procedure? Yes! | aftershock. Retrieved from https://aftershocklifeafterect.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/if-you-call-electroshock-by-any-other-name-is-it-still-a-violent-destructive-pseudoscientific-procedure-yes/

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Gaslighting – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting


7 thoughts on “Electroshock and Rehab

  1. Jane where i need to turn for help if ER doctor said is no option for me? i want to get better. And what is legal aspect of damages from psychotropics and ECT? My health coming back to normal is the main thing. But it is obvious that i got damaged to the point of not functioning. is any true and honest organization which at least keeps track of what happened to the people with the above treatments? And maybe they can advise what to do or push for some methods which will help us? i do not want get in trouble with anyone who sees my questions not appropriate. My dream is to be healthy same for others who wait for the answers…


  2. i need to become functional. But nothing is offered by psychiatrists or medical system. And i can not reach out anymore. No one is interested to help because they see you as mental and physical vegetable who needs to be quiet and suffering on your own.


    • Jana, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. It’s maddening that they can do this to us and refuse to help! I think it will help when survivors start actively working together on this and share what we find out. Keep in touch in the group, I know one member found an organization that will help with rehab. It might be available in you area . Again, I’m so friggin sorry for what your going through


      • Jane the damage is so severe as you described. i was not aware that it can be so bad. That is no fair. i realize that brain can not regenerate from ECT destruction and i feel very upset. But maybe some other smart people can find the way to improve the brain functioning even a little bit more. it is too much suffering for family and friends to see someone being healthy than becoming non functional. That is the worst possible negative impact on human health and humanity i ever have seen and experienced. Why doctors can not stop these procedures themselves or inform patients more honestly. They have liences but they do not have to do harming? do not they? Do they have a heart? Or just they are forced to “treat” that way? i want to get better same as other ect/psychotrpic survivors. Do you see any chance for us? What have i done wrong to deserve no life?


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