As this article demonstrates, invisible disabilities are just as real and can be as restricting as visible ones.
The holidays can be brutal for ECT survivors with noisy, crowded family events and expectations of normal, engaged, happy, behavior.
Please be gentle with yourself this Christmas and every day in between.
Give yourself time-outs when you need them. Limit time you spend at events according to your needs. Fake an important call or another event if you have to! (I’ve currently excused myself from three events already.)
Remember that you have been injured and have suffered terrible losses from a pseudoscientific procedure. You are doing the best you can with what you have.
Share the neuro-fatigue article with open minded loved ones so they can better understand your limitations and needs.
As for the not so open-minded people in your life who don’t respect your limits–they can go choke on a candy cane 😉
Footage of the modified ECT procedure, conscious man convulsing and side-effects discussion.
I was greeted with a traumatic surprise at this videos opening footage of a patient receiving ECT. The psychiatrist and aids in the video were the first to assure me of ECT’s safety before repeatedly damaging my brain.
My trauma aside, I was also surprised at the mention of the increased seizure threshold. Seizures are catastrophic events the body works hard to prevent so over time, shock doctors have to use more electricity to induce them. This was one of the many vital pieces of information I was never given and I have only ever seen mentioned by people who speak against ECT. It is doubtful it is ever included in consent forms or discussed with patients or family members. If it is, it is most likely downplayed.
As for ECT journalism, If you’re not familiar with electroshock’s media history, it is almost always favorably biased to the point of being promotional. Anything other than glowing reports with a mumbled mention of a few bad outcomes are practically unheard of.
This video does repeat many of the same unoriginal, recycled ideas and statements from past ECT articles:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest reference
People believe ECT is barbaric
ECT ‘worked’ for this person, but doctors don’t know why (Not true! See my video, Brain Damage Therapy)
That said, there is a refreshing aspect of this video and other media Sue Cunliffe has participated in–there’s less bias towards ECT and provides more time to critical views and negative experiences.
The journalist mentions the bizarre thought process that went into the creation of ECT and also interviewing John Read, Australian psychology professor, and writer, about psychiatry’s ‘new and improved ECT,’ claim. John had also written several important articles about the obscene use of forced ECT in the Garth Daniels case this last year.
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 🙂
If you saw the original incarnation of this video, you know all about the style and timing issues. I got help from the app designers and was able to fix all the little pesky quirks and also add a TON of polish to this video.
In two days this video got 84 views and several comments! This activity makes me hesitant to take it down.
While I figure out what to do with the old version, you can help me get the truth out about electroshock by viewing, liking and sharing the new one.
If you already have, thank you! I hope you will consider doing the same for the revised version as well.
Peter Breggin, psychiatric reformer and veteran of the battle to end psychosurgeries, interviewed Danielle Egan, a free-lance journalist who has done an extensive investigation on deep brain stimulation (DBS).
The brain uses a wide array of functions to create our reality, our ability to carry out and control actions, feel and connect with others and make us who we are. In the patient cases Danielle discusses, you see this brain generated reality and personhood disintegrate into something terrifyingly. The effects of DBS for depression seem to belong more in a horror movie– not modern medicine.
And check out her other insightful pieces on this and other topics, social media, etc. here.
Some DBS background
DBS is used for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and it looks as though brain surgeons are eager to apply it to other conditions.(Poke around google or Youtube if you want to learn more about the Parkinson’s application.)
In the case of depression treatment, DBS is a procedure where electrodes are placed in the brains of depressed individuals in locations thought to be associated with the patient’s distress. The goal of this invasive procedure is to electrically stimulate the brain in a way that will supposedly relieve the recipient’s depression.
Mainstream media complacency
Not surprisingly, much of the media exploring DBS fail to disclose the disturbing side-effects of this procedure.
Money and a love of oversimplifying the brain and human experience seem to be major driving factors for modern day psychosurgeries. This selective view of reality combined with greed has devastating consequences for patients.
I’ve said before that doctors recommending ECT are encouraging desperate people into risk-taking behavior. It is the equivalent of a doctor inviting a patient to a game of Russian Roulette except with ECT every chamber is loaded; there will always be damage to the brain and body with the potential of death. Browse blogs and comment threads people undergoing ECT and you will often see death wish ‘I hope I die during the procedure‘ statements. I personally shared some of this mentality when I underwent shock.
ECT = masochism and suicidal behavior encouraged and facilitated by psychiatrists.
Its seems DBS is no different. Doctors eager to experiment have suicidal people willing to become their guinea pigs.
The last, last resort
ECT is often touted as the ‘last resort’ for severe depression. Now DBS and other forms of psychosurgery seem to be considered as the last, last resort.
Please, PLEASE ask questions! Read critical information about any treatment you may consider. Don’t believe anyone who says you are treatment resistant without considering alternative interpretations of your diagnosis and treatments. So many of us subjected to drugs and electroshock had real, sometimes medical, conditions fueling our distress.These problems could never be helped with antidepressants or shock. We’re lucky we found our solutions but for many of us, it’s too late; we are damaged to the point of permanent disability, and while we may feel better our lives are in tatters.
I was 2 years old when this video was made. This valuable information existed long before this presentation, but thanks to aggressive misinformation campaigns by organizations like the Amercian Psychiatric Association (APA), these truths wouldn’t enter my consciousness 15 years later when shock was recommended for my so-called ‘treatment resistant’ depression.
The most important key points anyone considering shock should hear, made public, wrapped up in a concise 20-minute talk and also recorded in a few obscure books and scientific studies.
It leaves me speechless.
I’m only aware of it now, thanks to a fellow survivor, long after my brain had been iatrogenically damaged beyond repair.
A sentence in Linda Andre’s extraordinary book, Doctors of Deception, comes to mind at this lack of crucial information and the destruction its absence caused in so many lives:
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.
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!
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
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
A while back I shared the story of a delightful man, Oliver Swingler. (If you missed it you can read his story here and one of his poems here.)
I have some exciting news! Oliver has recently had a collection of his powerful writing published!
Mental Survival is a collection of articles, personal experiences, poems and songs, mostly centred around the theme of mental health. The writer draws on a wealth of experience to focus on psychiatry and counselling, the side effect of drugs and ECT, stigma and abuse, shedding light on much that is wrong with attitudes and care for the increasing numbers of people suffering debilitating mental distress. He also shows that despite an often daily battle against suicidal thoughts and chronic mood swings, it is possible to have a rewarding life, with moments of caring companionship, mostly winning the struggle to maintain a positive attitude and self-respect.
About the Author
Oliver Swingler was born 10th March 1948, and is currently actively retired despite physical disability and being a mental health survivor for 55 years. His working career has included 37 f different jobs, from factory labourer to Customer Services Supervisor, Sales Manager to Hospital Porter, Shop Assistant to Volunteer Co-ordinator, barman to Adult Education Lecturer – and over the years he’s done a variety of voluntary work, including VSO on island of St Helena, working with people recovering from head injuries, housing advisor with a Shelter Housing Aid Centre. Apart from 19 years semi-retreat from the world in the Emin esoteric cult, Oliver has been an active campaigner on a variety of issues, a student Socialist Society Chair, NUPE Shop Steward, Chair of Lifeboat mental health co-operative, and two Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations. As well as writing songs for a left/green choir, he’s most recently been active against fracking and global warming, as part of White Ribbon Campaign anti-violence against women, seeking justice for families of victims of the DWP, Atos, Maximus, Capita, and most recently re-joined the Labour Party after 50 years absence to support Jeremy Corbyn. A believer in social housing, Oliver has lived in a council flat in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for 26 years; he’s divorced and has one son.
Seeing his long list of accomplishments is such an encouragement– one can truly live a meaningful, successful life following iatrogenic brain damage, trauma and deep, painful, personal struggles.
Thank you for persevering Oliver, and showing the world what is possible, regardelss the circumstances 🙂