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.
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 :
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
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
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.
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
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