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.
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
My comments to the FDA posted on the shock machine reclassification docket on April 25th. I have been struggling with PTSD since writing it and have been too triggered to check it to ensure my content is all there.
Today I finally gave it a once over and my statement looks intact.
I wish I could say I’m relieved, but I’m not.
The whole reclassification situation coupled with my regular encounters with brain washed doctors and lay people has sparked painful memories and fear for my safety and the safety of others should this reclassification pass.
I’m so freaked out, I’ve even decided to get an advanced directive that declares “no electroshock under any circumstance” should I, God forbid, ever get tangled
up in psychiatry again. However, I take little solace in this protection because it can be easily overridden by the opinion of two doctors, but what else can I do?
I’m not alone in this worry; now the dockets have closed, survivors who have responded to FDA have had to relive their own electroshock traumas, submit their thoughts and experiences to an agency with questionable motives and anxiously wait for the FDA’s next move.
A survivor recently shared her interaction with the FDA ombudsman about her concern over the agencies silence since the dockets closed via her email newsletter.
The ombudsman’s reply:
The world waits as well, as this decision will no doubt impact every country.
If you’re new to this situation, please check out the links below to catch up:
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 🙂