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 !


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.


Dr. Daniel Fisher on ECT | Psych Central

Read the entire presentation here

Read Peter Breggin’s First Medical ECT Book for Free

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.


A Consumer Perspective on ECT


Review of Consumers’ Perspectives of Electro Convulsive Therapy is a thought provoking look at electroshock from the consumer perspective.

It address the often blurry aspects of how psychiatrists gather data on electroshock and form and interpret conclusions on its affects.

It also contains eye opening experts from patients, their understanding (or lack) of the procedure, informed consent, and experience with side effects.

It’s pretty well-balanced with negative as well as positive stories without invalidating or skewing the information.

This is a hefty bit of reading, so I recommend using a screen read like Voice Dream (iOS) if it’s hard for you to read or concentrate for long periods of time.

Spot any content grammar errors? Tell me about it at aftershockrecovery at gmail dot com



Fleischmann, P. (2002, January). ect.org. Retrieved August 14, 2015, from http://www.ect.org/resources/consumerperspectives.pdf