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.
My talented friend over at Materialistic Psychiatry recently created a powerful and informative anti-ECT video.
I’ve started collecting old electroshock books before they disappear and/or their prices skyrocket. Last year I bought a copy Electro-shock and its Brain-Disabling Effects, originally published in 1979.
This book is a vital read. It shows how far back shock induced brain damaged evidence was available, how this information was softened, skewed or ignored by the industry, provides patient accounts, detailed descriptions of physical and cognitive effects and its wealth of citations serves an additional research resource.
Recently I was poking around Peter Breggin’s ECT Resource Center and found that he made the complete book available free via PDF–yay!
Even though I already own the book, it’s hard for me to process because it’s highly technical and I struggle with reading and retaining new info after ECT wrecked my brain.
But with a PDF copy, I can run it through my screen reader and can easily highlight and review points I want to remember.
You can download the PDF here.
And if have the same reading/retaining troubles I do and are interested in using assistive technology, check out VoiceDream.
It’s the best screen reader I’ve ever used. It’s easy to add content, there’s a ton of realistic voices to choose from, and the app is customizable.
“My story already posted in after-shock!”
“If I was told how I would feel, five, ten, fifteen years after shock. I would have said HELL NO to shock, HELL NO, I’d rather you cut off my right arm. Seriously. Also, I would like to ask Doctors who prescribe Shock or perform Shock, “Would you recieve shock if you were depressed, or would you suggest it for a loved one if they were depressed?” There is not enough told to patients about Shock, the permanent amnesia, BRAIN DAMAGE. I was told I would lose three months, before and three months after. Whole chunks and blocks of my memory of my whole life are gone. It’s infuriating as well as I feel a deep deep sadness, worse than any depression I felt before I was given Shock. I feel suicidal, daily. DON’T DO IT! I so WISH someone said that to me!”
“It is disgusting that there are shock docs today still advocating for and administering this lunatic procedure. They must be stopped.”
“I have never been that suicidal ever in my life before. But electroshock triggered a mania with psychotic tendencies and I became deeply suicidal and was so for almost three years when it finally lifted by itself. I have never before or after in my life been in such a state. It was traumatising along with the electroshock itself. I was very close to not surviving. Electroshock is very popular in Sweden – where I live – and they shock about 4000 people yearly here with a small population of 9,6 million. Numbers are increasing with about 200 people yearly. And no one is questioning this.”
“I think ECT patients should be required to have an MRI and neuropsychological testing done BEFORE the ECT is started and every year after for the following 10 years. This would be the best research. I’ve noticed that when people evaluate the effects of ECT, sometimes they’re looking at patients 3-6 months after treatment. At that time, patients are still in the thick of it and don’t know the damage the ECT caused. As someone with memory loss, you don’t know what you don’t know. You learn how much damage you start trying to work and live like normal and other people tell you what you don’t remember and you start struggling with work. Don’t survey the patient, survey their family. The family notices when you don’t remember your own life. As the one with memory loss, you don’t know what you don’t know. ECT causes memory loss, but also disability. It’s humiliating being on disability. It’s embarrassing meeting people you knew prior to ECT and having to tell them you have no idea who they are. After ECT, you’re still depressed, but now you have PTSD and shame from having a dark secret that you don’t want anyone to know, that you had ECT.”
I’ve checked Breggin’s Podcast regularly ever since the FDA’s shock machine risk downgrade, hoping he will chime in and give his insights on the current situation.
It finally happened! Yesterday he discussed electroshock, the FDA and psychiatry issues with shock survivor and activist, Ted Chabasinski.
Click the link below to listen:
The other day I almost forgot to pay for my groceries. I was in the self-checkout line, had just bagged my chicken and juice and put the bags in my cart.
I somehow spaced the whole PAY FOR YOUR GOODS bit and started to leave the store.
I stopped about 6 feet from the checkout to call my dad– see if he was done with his shopping, and noticed the cashier and a shopper at my checkout station giving me a funny look.
When I realized my error I hurried back, made some half-assed excuse to the bewildered teen manning the self checkouts about having a day,hastily paid for my groceries and left.
This was humiliating. It would have been beyond embarrassing if I hadn’t stopped to make a phone call and just strolled out of the store with unpaid for goods; A confrontation with a store security–possibly the police and some seriously awkward q&a would have been a likely result.
“If you weren’t shoplifting, why’d you try and leave without paying?”
“Huh? Uhhhh…I have brain damage- there was too much going on around me and I thought I paid.”
“You sound fine to me. Do you have documentation of this damage?”
Even after I paid, I had no recollection of swiping my card through the reader, and kept asking myself, “did I pay this time? Or did I only imagine I did?” The only way I knew for sure was by checking my receipt.
This isn’t the first time shock induced brain damage has caused a major slip-up. Not too long ago I forgot to take back my debit card from a 5 Guys cashier after paying for my burger.
Another time, I forgot the $20 cash back I requested along with another purchase and started to leave.
Then there’s the countless times I’ve forgotten to take my groceries right after paying from them. That happens a lot.
My dismal mental math abilities don’t help; I could easily be short changed in any transaction because all of my brain power is finding the correct cash/change combo in a timely manner.
The rest is used remembering to return any change to their respective compartments in my wallet and returning my wallet to my purse while pretending l know what’s going on around me, and talking slowly enough so I don’t weird the cashier out by my preferred method: say everything super fast before you forget what you are talking about.
All the above make me an easy target of any integrity deficiency person; they could easily have taken advantage of my mental lapses and pocketed my debit card, cash or purchases.
This mental dysfunction goes beyond me fudging financial transactions.
There was that time I cut off part of my thumbnail while chopping onions. Not the clipable crescent nail tip–the part that’s fused to my thumb–all because it’s impossible for me to focus continuously-even for the short time it takes to dice the small piece of produce.
Or the time I left the stove on. Or the oven.
Or the time I doubled back six or seven times to ensure I locked my sister’s apartment door before walking to the store, because I couldn’t form a memory of doing it. I finally started taking pictures of the locked door in case I had any doubts after leaving the apartment.
Or this summer, after an art festival, I tried crossing the street in open downtown Salt Lake City traffic. Only able to focus on one cue, in this case it was when the hoards of people stopped walking towards us from the opposite direction. I couldn’t take in the reason the change- people stopped because the lights changed and the idling cars resumed driving.
In my mind I was all “Ok! The people are finally out of the way- time to cross!” Luckily my sister grabbed me before my second step.
Oh, there was that time during finals when my brain was so fried I had to let my dad take over after I ran a stop sign on the drive home from school.
Then there was the time I walked away from someone who was talking to me. No warning. No “could you excuse me?” I just walked away mid conversation. I’m not sure why. Omg-embarrassing.
Last month I was given de-worming medicine for my foster kitten with two simple instructions the bottle:
repeat dose once after two weeks
Yeah, I screwed both steps up; I failed to shake the medicine which could lead to an overdose, and thanks to having no sense of time and confusion over a calendar alert, I gave him his second dose the following week.
My sister who knows a bit about cat drugs said it should be fine, but I was still so upset I could have done something that could have hurt my sweet little foster kitten and so embarassed that I couldn’t follow such basic instructions, I waited till his booster shot appointment three weeks later to tell a fellow volunteer my error and ask if I should dose him again. It wasn’t a big deal; the volunteer wasn’t angry, but experience has taught me I can only make mistakes like these so many times before people stop trusting me and/or start treating you like an idiot. Little I say or do after that point will change a person’s perception of me.
I get freaked anytime crap like this happens. You know that feeling you get when you misjudge a stair step and fall 5 inches? Like that.
I also feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed.
All the above are no-brainers, so failure to do them correctly usually invites incredulous, angry, eye-rolling “omg wtf! What’s wrong with you that you can’t remember this simple thing or do it right?! Why would you do something so stupid?! Are you trying to get yourself killed?!” from people.
Being smart and “sounding” normal only intensifies these responses.
“Clearly, you should know better”
“I don’t get why you can’t just bla bla bla”
On top of embarrassment and humiliation, I also feel scared I’m losing my friggin mind. There was a time I remembered paying, locking doors, turning off the friggin stove after I’m done cooking, taking in all of my surroundings — not just one aspect of the world around me at a time, not needing to rush convos because I’d remember what so and so said along with my reply or the simple internal sense of how many weeks have passed.
These electroshock damage induced lapses and absent-mindedness bouts leave me in a near constant state of panicked high alert to avoid the above consequences and social ostracism.
This damage I’m told so often by doctors I can’t possibly have because
“shock doesn’t do that.”
And because I “sound fine.”
I wish the doctors were right–that running an electric current through one’s brain was completely safe and any side effects are mild and temporary.
And I wish I was as intact as I seem.
What happened to me was anything but mild or temporary and my six month recovery time frame is long since passed.
If you’re considering electroshock, also consider that you could wind up like me; a permanently disabled 30 year old with dementia.
Your doctors won’t warn you this can happen–mine sure as hell didn’t, so I will.
Below are some honest, personal and scientifically valid assessments of of electroshock you won’t get from your doctor.
Read up like your life depends on it–it does.
As for me, the last few days have sucked royally.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be under a pile of kittens watching Netflix. Do not disturb.
Andre, L. (1991, September). Electroshock as head injury. Retrieved December 8, 2015, 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.
Breggin, P. R.Retrieved December 8, 2015, from http://www.ectresources.org/Shock_treatment_brochure_June_8.pdf
Flaws in Assessing Post-shock Damage, Solutions and the Importance of Informed Consent | aftershock. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2015, from https://aftershocklifeafterect.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/flaws-in-assessing-post-shock-damage-solutions-and-the-importance-of-informed-consent/
From The Files of Leonard Roy F. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2015, from http://psychiatrized.org/LeonardRoyFrank/FromTheFilesOfLeonardRoyFrank.htm
Ignored Products of Electroshock: Painful Emotions and Trauma | aftershock. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2015, from https://aftershocklifeafterect.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/painful-emotions-following-electroshock/
(n.d.). A Paralegal Employed by Firm Representing ECT Survivor Speaks Out Against Shock | aftershock. Retrieved December 8, 2015, from https://aftershocklifeafterect.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/a-parelagal-employed-by-firm-representing-ect-survivor-speaks-out-against-the-procedure/
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.
Electroshock causes brain damage leading to a myriad of cognitive problems including:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
thanks to several years of paralegal work he did for a firm representing a man who’s entire autobiographical memory was erased by ECT. Warner has heavily researched electroshock; its use, studies, what doctors know and are withhold regarding efficacy and risk and beautifully argues against the procedure in his paper, Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage – Psychiatry’s Don’t Look, Don’t Tell Policy.
After reading this, I think anyone who has participated in deceiving the public and profited from the destruction of countless lives should lose their prestigious credentials, and spend the rest of their lives in a prison cell.
View all 42 pages of this anti-ECT masterpiece here.
Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage – Psychiatry’s Don’t Look, Don’t Tell Policy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf
Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net