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 😉
I’m impressed to see an ECT lawsuit make it to trial and receive so much media attention.
I think a major factor is Shaul Dadi has elevated social status as a doctor who only recently suffered severe emotional distress. It’s much harder to paint someone of his stature as a delusional, unstable nutjob who tries to blame his mental health issues on ‘imaginary brain damage’ — the standard method for discrediting shock survivors. Few of us have such an advantage.
That said, I’m grateful that some survivors have a shot at justice. Shaul Dadi’s losses are devastating. His wife’s losses are devastating. For their sake and the sake of countless shock survivors who will never have their day in court, I hope the Dadi’s win this lawsuit.
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 🙂
Oliver Swingler generously shared his powerful shock story with with me many months back. You can find that here here.
This is another piece of his work relating to his experience with electroshock.
Elephants don’t arrange to have memories wiped out
Larks don’t sing tunes that awaken chronic doubt
Electric eels don’t give shocks to others of their kind
Cheetahs don’t advise speedy cures that damage the mind
Tortoises don’t punish those who are a bit slower
Reindeer don’t stigmatise whatever they see as lower
Owls don’t manufacture darkness for hunting their prey
Crocodiles don’t submerge animals in terror for pay
Oysters don’t clam up if treatment is put to the test
Nightingales don’t wilfully disturb other creatures’ rest
Voles don’t produce the dependence on hibernation
Unicorns don’t pretend what’s real is an invention
Locusts don’t strip bare while announcing that it’s healing
Spiders don’t weave to confuse other spiders’ feeling
Iguana don’t make ugly innocent hope and belief
Vultures don’t pick at the bones of those suffering grief
Earthworms don’t aim to undermine the vulnerable naïve
Tigers don’t lurk behind caring postures that deceive
Hornets don’t sting to sell results in published research
Eagles don’t use old, weak ones to establish their perch
Rattlesnakes don’t have hidden agendas that cause fear
Ants don’t build nests that alienate every ant near
Psychiatrists and their drugs often do – they’ve done it to me
You may be the next to be raped by ECT
This is a human rights issue. Electroshock is still forced on people, is still permanently damaging brains and shattering lives and patients continue to be uninformed of the dangers and denied help after they are injured.
This safety down-classification must not take place!
The FDA, shock machine manufacturers and Psychiatric organization must be held accountable. Requiring Accountability, transparency and unbiased testing, damage acknowledgement and support for those injured and true informed consent is not an unreasonable request! #FDAStoptheShockDevice
If you haven’t already, please sign and share this petition.
To learn more about the FDA’s history of negligence and caving to special interests, visit the Shock and the FDA resource page here.
Also feel free to share any of the memes below or on this site. It helps us get the word out 🙂