ECT Survivor Project: Things I never consented to…

The world needs to know how people are lied to about ECT risks, are subsequently injured and left to fend for themselves!

I’m working on a survivor collaboration video about the side effects we never consented to when we had ECT. This video explains what’s involved if you would like to participate. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions  

https://goo.gl/forms/2BJfXQRpOfwhrPaJ2

Was Carrie Fisher’s Death ECT Related?

2016 sucked royally. The year started off with the FDA trying to down-classify shock machines to class II when they thought no one was looking.

Then the horrible presidential election ending with Donald Trump as the victor.

The human rights abomination known as the Murphy bill was enthusiastically passed.

Beloved celebrities like Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and Prince have passed away,   followed by the Star Wars icon, Carrie Fisher, who died this week after suffering a heart attack.

I have mixed feelings about The world famous actress. I’m not a Star Wars fan so I don’t have a rabid fanaticism for her or other cast members.

As a shock survivor, I empathize with her desperation to control her depression that led to drugs and then ECT.

‘I was getting medication that medication could not handle. It feels like my brain gets moored down in cement and it kind of blows that apart. You can move on from whatever feelings you cannot resolve through therapy and medications.’

-Carrie Fisher, Oprah interview via Daily Mail.com

I can relate to her promotion of it because I felt strongly about it too. That is before I fully understood ECT and its horrific effects outside of my adolescent, psychiatric brainwashing.

I sounded very much like she did when she spoke to Oprah about it. How it was different now. Safer. Helpful.

In interviews, her cognitive impairments are quite obvious though she doesn’t seem to be aware of them which is heartbreaking.

She was duped like the rest of us.

At the same time, I have been exasperated by her ECT promotion. Her massive fame put her in a highly influential position. For those of us trying to educate people the true nature of electroshock and advocate for recognition, protection, and rehabilitation for those injured and cast aside by their doctors and society, she caused problems, though unintentionally. Ultimately, she was a victim and an unwitting pawn in a larger game.

Despite the damage her shock promotion caused, I never wished her any harm.

Her sudden death scares me, which brings me to an issue that has less to do with Carrie and more to do with the risks of ECT.

Risks and death rates are drastically downplayed in consent forms and the media. What most people don’t know is that there has been great efforts to prevent or hinder data collection on ECT-related deaths.

“Furthermore, the APA consent form drastically underestimates mortality associated with ECT by stating a risk of 1 in 10,000, whereas the average of numerous studies indicated a tenfold higher rate of death than suggested by the APA.”

Dr. Daniel Fisher presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Neurological Devices Panel examining the reclassification of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices on January 27, 2011.

Texas was one state who requires deaths to be reported after up to 12 days following ECT. What do results look like with this lengthier follow-up?

More ECT-related deaths. Much more dramatic numbers than the excessively conservative 1- 10,000 in consent forms!

Depending on the age group, it can be as few as  1-200!

This is just a sample of a near two-week time frame. Who knows how many other deaths could be attributed months or years later?

Heart attacks are one of the many ECT-related death causes.

I recently learned that acquaintance’s dad was subjected to ECT and died in his 50’s from a heart attack that was attributed to the shock treatments he had years before.

I want to briefly focus on Carrie Fisher’s Oprah interview where she talked about how ECT is different from old electroshock because they put you under anesthesia.

“They put you to sleep and give you a medication so there is no convulsions …”

~Carrie Fisher, Oprah Inteview

Rather than get into a lengthy explanation about the problems with that common statement of how modified ECT is better, (it’s not, read Dr. Peter Sterling’s entire article linked below) I just want to point out one important fact that I never new before agreeing to ECT and I wonder if Carrie did either: the anesthesia and muscle relaxants offer zero protection for the massive blood pressure increase caused by electrocuting a person into a grand mal seizure. I recently read an in-depth piece about the effect of ECT by Doctor Peter Sterling, via ect.org. I encourage anyone to read the whole article, but below are the quotes relevant to the blood pressure issue:

“Accompanying the convulsion, there is a tremendous rise in blood pressure: changes in arterial pressure from 80mm Hg to 220mm Hg, or almost 200%, have been recorded (Plum, et al, 1968). This overall response resembles the “grand mal” seizure that occurs in epilepsy…

Thus, the later modifications of ECT can relieve the threat of cerebral anoxia, but not the threat of high pressure, bleeding, loss of blood-brain barrier, or edema

… In accomplishing such massive increases in blood flow, the automatic mechanisms that normally regulate cerebral blood flow are overwhelmed. For the duration of the seizure and for sometime following it, blood flow to the brain becomes like that of must other tissues in the body — proportional to the arterial pressure forcing the blood through the vessels. These changes accompanying ECT are not modified by the administration of anesthetic, paralytic drugs or oxygen (Plum, et al., 1968; Posner, et al., 1969).

~Dr. Peter Sterling, Ph.D., Testimony Prepared for the Standing Committee on Mental Health of the Assembly of the State of New York, October 5, 1978.

Looking at the physiologic effects of electroshock I have to wonder, was Carrie Fisher’s heart attack in part from her many medically induced seizures? What role did all the pharmaceuticals she took play in her death?

Even though I stopped ECT and drugs ten years ago, am I destined for the same fate in 30 years?

All I can think right now is #fuck2016 !

References

BBC. (2016, December 27). Carrie Fisher, Star Wars actress, dies aged 60 – BBC News. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-38446753?ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=facebook

Boodman, S. J. (1996, September 24). SHOCK THERAPY: IT’S BACK – The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/1996/09/24/shock-therapy-its-back/35a22683-a87d-4946-81a6-cabf1bb5a37b/?utm_term=.ed4a03e04218

Fisher, D. (2011, January 27). Dr. Daniel Fisher on ECT | Psych Central. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/dr-daniel-fisher-on-ect/

Frank, L. R.Retrieved from http://endofshock.com/101i%20brochure%20on%20deaths%203-29.pdf

Sterling, P. (1978, October 5). Brain Damage and Memory Loss From ECT. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.ect.org/effects/testimony.html

Thompson, J. (2011, February). Carrie Fisher confesses to Oprah that she has regular electric shock therapy to help her battle depression | Daily Mail Online. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1357601/Carrie-Fisher-confesses-Oprah-regular-electric-shock-therapy-help-battle-depression.html

Tracy, A. B. (2016, December 12). UPDATE: CARRIE FISHER DEAD AT 60 – ANTIDEPRESSANTS PLUS ???: Carrie Fisher Suffers Massive Heart Attack on Airplane – INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR DRUG AWARENESS. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://www.drugawareness.org/antidepressants-plus-carrie-fisher-suffers-massive-heart-attack-on-airplane/

News Coverage of Recent Failed ECT Lawsuit

TRIGGER WARNINGS: footage of pre-ECT prep, ECT facilities, and shock machines.

I came across more coverage of this recent ECT lawsuit. If you are unfamiliar, you can read up on it below:

 Cardiologist Sues His Psychiatrist for Millions After Receiving Brain Damaging Electroshock

Cardiologist Brain Damaged by ECT Denied Justice

The shock doctor’s claim that ECT is safe because they use anesthesia, oxygenation, and monitoring, is absurd.

Anesthesia may prevent broken bones and bitten off tongues, and look more humane, but ultimately, it makes ECT more dangerous.

First, it has its own set of risks. Anesthesia also adds to the hazards of ECT because it lowers the seizure threshold so more electricity is needed to induce a grand mal seizure.

Oxygenation is used because patients are given muscle paralyzers that impair a patient’s ability to breathe independently. It’s also used to fuel the seizures.

The whole reason the patient is there in the first place is to have 200-450 volts of electricity pulsed through his/her brain to cause a grand mal seizure; a violent medical event the doctors normally try to prevent. Monitoring doesn’t change that and in many cases doesn’t prevent injury or death,  permanent cognitive impairment, and memory loss.

This scenario looks quite different with reasons behind these “safety measures,” no?

As for this psychiatrist not seeing a single patient with post- ECT brain damage? You see what you look for and shock doctors don’t look. In this instance, this doctor has a patient reporting massive brain damage but that has no impact on his beliefs and perception about what he does and the effect his ‘treatment’ has on the brain.

No “Wow! The problems you’re are expressing sound like a traumatic brain injury. We did run enough electricity through your brain to power a light bulb. Let’s do some neuro testing to evaluate you and see what we can do to help rehabilitate you.”

He didn’t even consider it because he’s never “seen” brain damage from his handy work before.

And that is the stance most if not all shock doctors take when a patient reports damage. No offer for cognitive testing. No acknowledgment. No rehab. Blame the person’s mental illness and/or character and leave them to fend for themselves in a world where no one will believe their claims because doctors say: ECT doesn’t damage the brain.

Because he is a doctor, he has the implicit trust of society, he wasn’t questioned on his statement and the news station that made this blurb didn’t present any contrary information to the doctor or in their reporting. “It’s safe because we do XYZ”is all he has to say to be believed.

This miscarriage of justice was no doubt a terrible blow to the Dadi’s–it was certainly devastating for the shock survivor community. I hope this isn’t the last we hear about it.

Fingers crossed appeal efforts are heard.

 

Spot a typo? Tell me about at aftershockrecovery (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks 🙂

Sources by topic

Long standing ECT brain damage evidence:

Breggin, P. R. (1979). Electro-shock its brain-disabling effects. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Breggin_1979___AAA___Complete_ECT_Book___Overview__244_pages__Brain_Damage__Memory_Loss__Abuse__Etc_.pdf

Breggin, P. R. (2015, April 8). Simple Truth 10: Electroshock is Brain Trauma [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOtacCftvcs

Sakeim, H. (2007). The cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy in community settings. Retrieved November 28, 2016, from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Sackeim_et_al__2007___AAA___Long-term_memory_and_cognitive_dysfunction_____Bilateral_worse_.pdf

ECT and the use of oxygen:

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

Psychiatry not looking for ECT-induced brain damage:

Andre, L. (1991, September). Electroshock as head injury. Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.ect.org/effects/headinjury.html

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

Hickey, P. (2006, November 21). http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/electroconvulsive-therapy-ect-effective/. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/electroconvulsive-therapy-ect-effective/

Janis, I. (1950). Psychological effects of electric shock treatment. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 3. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Janis_1950__Autobiographical_memory_loss_.pdf

Warneron, R. (n.d.). http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf

Dangers of anesthesia

Storrs, C. (2014, April 1). The Hidden Dangers of Going Under – Scientific American. Retrieved November 28, 2016, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hidden-dangers-of-going-under/

Seizure Threshold increased from anesthesia

Andre, L. (1991, September). Electroshock as head injury. Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.ect.org/effects/headinjury.html

 

Powerful Anti-ECT Video

My talented friend over at Materialistic Psychiatry recently created a powerful and informative anti-ECT video.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: disturbing imagery, shock machine brochures, suicide references.

 

Cardiologist Brain Damaged by ECT Denied Justice

A few weeks back I wrote about Dadi, a former cardiologist who was suing his psychiatrist for millions of dollars in damages for severe cognitive impairment Dadi suffered after a series of  ECT treatments.

white capped text on dark grey background reads “I HAD A VERY GOOD MEMORY BEFORE. I PRACTICED MEDICINE. I HAD THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS. I LOST IT ALL,” HE SAID. “THE MEMORY LOSS. THE ISOLATION I FEEL BECAUSE OF MY INABILITY TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS. THE INABILITY TO DRIVE. I THINK THE PROCEDURE CAUSED BRAIN DAMAGE AND I FEEL IT. EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY.” Dr. Shaul Dadi

“Instead of respecting all these ‘No, no, no, no,’ [from Dadi]. . . Dr. Dadi, with no written consent, goes for electroshock therapy,' La Vista said, [And] it doesn’t matter that there’s no written consent, because the oral consent is no good, either.'"

After a twelve day trial and  nearly four hours of jury deliberation, a devastating verdict was delivered to Dadi and his wife.

The psychiatrist that damaged his brain was cleared of all charges. He will continue to shock away people’s intelligence, memories, and abilities. If they are fortunate enough to have the resources to their grievances to court, a jury of their peers is sure to f#$% things up and the world continues on in blissful ignorance about the true abuses and hazards of electroshock.

 Read the full story here.

The shock machine manufacturers and the psychiatric industry remain completely unscathed by all of this.

Dadi is not the first and will not be the last shock survivor to get screwed over by our legal system.

This is a state of shock survivor lawsuits.

 

ECT Pamphlets: Somatics

I’m starting a new series on ECT misinformation.

It’s will include a collection of ECT pamphlets, brochures, and websites from various companies and clinics promoting and/or offering the procedure.

They offer little or no mention of side effects, downplay risks and emphasize benefits. As with drug commercials or advertisements for any other procedure, they imply that more in-depth information will  be provided when the patient talks to their doctor.

Judging from my experience and the experience of others, this never happens. Patients never learn all the risks or if they are initially given this info, they forget soon after the first few treatments.

A while back I came across this first brochure made by Richard Abrams and Conrad Swartz for their shock machine company, Somatics.

It should be noted both men have serious financial conflicts of interest. They manufacturer shock machines, which Abrams promotes in a medical textbook he’s written, without disclosing that he profits from the use of the machines he recommends. Follow the links below to learn more.

Doctor’s financial stake in shock therapy

Thymatron website

ECT, the Thymatron, and Dr. Richard Abrams

Back to the pamphlet.

I’ve taken some screenshots of the most stunning claims on risks and benefits.

Is this portion of the brochure, safety is declared by one study and compared to the statistic to the unrelated occurrence, childbirth.

This is a common tactic; I had a shock doctor tell me before a treatment that it was safer than riding in a car or plane– I can’t remember which one.

The point is to compare a procedure to a common event to provide a relatable context to help the patient translate what these outcome numbers mean and how they apply to their situation.

This is a misleading use of statistics because the nature of the activities and their consequences are completely unrelated.

While the emphasis is on death rates, other things happen with these points of comparison.

First, it should be noted that childbirth is a natural occurrence; ECT is not.

Second, when a woman gives birth, there’s a host of risks: hemorrhaging, episiotomy, postpartum depression, etc and outcomes that don’t occur when one is put under anesthesia, given muscle relaxants and had enough electricity run through their head to cause a grand mal seizure and vice versa.

Same goes for car/plane transportation. With ECT the brain is always damaged. Not the case with regular vehicular transportation.

I was given a slightly more ‘conservative’ ‘1-10,000 deaths’ in the ECT sales pitch I received.

I was surprised years later when I found out that many studies varied in how data was collected and how many less optimistic stats existed.

This brochure would look very different if they took their statistics like those taken from states like Texas, which are required to report ECT patient deaths after up to 14 days  following ‘treatments.’ Their death statistic could vary between 1-1000 to 1-200!

Read more :

Leonard Frank electroshock Quotationary

Shock Treatment Is Not Good For the Brain

 

According to this pamphlet, the public image of cure by electrically induced convulsion has suffered because:

  • ECT was misused in the past
  • Movies inaccurately portray ECT. I’m surprised there’s no mention of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest; that’s usually the first thing mentioned in any shock related article
  • Pseudo-religious groups are making unscientific, invalid claims against psychiatry
  • Zero mention of the people who oppose shock because they or their loved ones were uninformed, sometimes given the barbaric treatment against their will, and permanently damaged or killed by the devices they are promoting, struggle with permanent disability and subsequent employment and relationship loss. Many live in despair of such devastation, some are driven to suicide.

So according to this pamphlet, memory loss is

  • is not experienced by most people
  • if it is it resolves in six months
  • doesn’t affect new learning
  • some studies show it actually improves new learning
  • memory problems are really caused by depression which electroshock fixes

The sentence that takes the cake: no long-term or persistent effects on intellectual abilities or memory capacity have been shown to occur

Really?! REALLY?!

In a Q&A for a neurobiology course I took last year, the instructor, in response to my question about her understanding of the effects of electroshocking the brain, said that new learning becomes more difficult.

Not that I needed to hear this from a degreed professional, as working memory loss and new learning are my biggest struggles.

As a college student, I could only take 6 credits per semester because for each of those credits, I had to record and replay lectures and textbook audio files over and over again, just to get the info into my head long enough to work with it. The hours this took essentially made me a full-time student.

This struggle isn’t exclusive to the classroom; it spills over to every aspect of my life. I’ve had to develop all kinds of strategies to get info in my head without driving everyone in my life crazy by constantly asking them to repeat xyz for the millionth time.

FYI, my last shock treatment was in 2007. I’ve made some gains over the last 9 years but have nowhere near the mental capacity I had before doctors repeatedly electrocuted my brain.

It’s not just me. One thing you see over and over again in reading shock survivor accounts are

  • long-term and short-term (working) memory loss
  • difficulty or inability to learn new things and retain information

 

black on white text reads: what you need to know about electroconvulsive therapy
Somatics ECT information brochure cover
You can find out what you really need to know about ECT by reading the resources listed below; not relying on biased promo brochures like this one.

Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage – Psychiatry’s Don’t Look, Don’t Tell Policy

Doctors of Deception

The Shock Quotationary

The Irving Janis Study

Shock Treatment is Not Good for Your Brain

Peter Breggin ECT Resouce Center

Electroshock Its Brain-Disabling Effects

 Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing

Sham ECT literature

Final thoughts

How many people read this brochure, trusted the judgment of its creators, and chose ECT to treat their distress? How many of these people suffered life-altering brain damage? How many died from the procedure itself? How many became suicidal after being denied brain damage recognition and rehabilitation? How many followed through?

There are zero citations in this ‘info’ pamphlet. This isn’t  surprising as they aren’t really needed; patients in our society are trained to implicitly trust doctors so it’s expected that lay people will automatically assume that because this information is coming from health care providers, that it is scientifically sound and trustworthy. To the authors’ credit, their website does have citations but the truth is even with these references, it’s hard, nye impossible for the untrained to translate complex studies into meaningful understanding so in a way their presence doesn’t matter.

People are left to trust those ‘in the know’, and that is where so many of us unwittingly invite destruction into our lives.

spot a typo? Let me know at aftershockrecovery at gmail dot com

my use of these screenshots are my opinion and not intended to infringe nay copyright or trademark expressed

References 

Retrieved March 12, 2016, from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Hartelius_1952___Animals___Brain_damage__Definitive_.pdf

Abrams, R., & Swartz, C.Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.dbsasandiego.org/resources/Somatics%20ECT%20brochure.pdf

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

Breggin, P. R. (1979). Electro-shock its brain-disabling effects. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Breggin_1979___AAA___Complete_ECT_Book___Overview__244_pages__Brain_Damage__Memory_Loss__Abuse__Etc_.pdf

Cauchon, D. (n.d.). Doctor’s financial stake in shock therapy (December 6, 1995 08:30 PM). Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/health/lhs194.htm

ECT Resources Center by Peter R. Breggin M.D. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.ectresources.org/

Frank, L. R. (2006). http://psychiatrized.org/LeonardRoyFrank/FromTheFilesOfLeonardRoyFrank.htm. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.endofshock.com/102C_ECT.PDF

Friedberg, J. (1976). Shock treatment is not good for your brain. San Francisco: Glide Publications.

Hartelius, H. (1952). cerebral changes following electrically induced convulsions. acta psychiactrica et neurologica scandinavica. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Hartelius_1952___Animals___Brain_damage__Definitive_.pdf

Janis, I. (1950). Psychological effects of electric shock treatment. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 3. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Janis_1950__Autobiographical_memory_loss_.pdf

Lawrence, J. (2007, February 20). ECT, The Thymatron and Dr. Richard Abrams – HealthyPlace. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/articles/ect-the-thymatron-and-dr-richard-abrams/

Robertson, H., & Pryor, R. (2006). Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing patients. Advances is psychiatric treatment, 12, 228-238. Retrieved from http://www.breggin.com/ECT/Electroshock-MemoryandCognitivEffects.pdf

Rose, D., Fleischmann, P., Wykes, T., & Bindman, J. (2002). Review of perspectives on electro convulsive therapy (final report). Retrieved from Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) Institute of Psychiatry website: http://www.ect.org/resources/consumerperspectives.pdf

Ross, C. A. (2006). The sham ECT literature: implications for consent to ECT. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 17-28. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Ross_2006___Sham_ECT_Literatures.pdf

Swartz, C., & Abrams, R.Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.dbsasandiego.org/resources/Somatics%20ECT%20brochure.pdf

Thymatron. (n.d.). Somatics, LLC – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.thymatron.com/main_faq.asp

Warneron, R. (n.d.). http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf