ECT Survivor Speaks Out Against the Procedure

Doctor and ECT survivor Sue Cunliffe has been interviewed on various radio and video programs this year and has recently added another appearance.

Check out Sue Cunliffe’s other interview: BBC Hereford & Worcester – Elliott and Toni at Breakfast, A Herefordshire woman’s experience of electroconvulsive therapy, and Dean Ryan on referees

TRIGGER WARNINGS:

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:

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest reference
  2. People believe ECT is barbaric
  3. 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.

There was also a critical look at the  Royal College of Psychiatrists data on how many patients they claim are injured (1 in 10 versus more likely projections of 1 in 5).

My hope is that harder hitting, less biased news stories will become the norm and psychiatry will no longer get a free pass in the public arena.

 

 

Spot a typo? Tell me about it at aftershockrecovery (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you 🙂

 

All About Brain Damage Therapy

TRIGGER WARNINGS: GENERAL DISCUSSION ABOUT ECT PROCEDURE, SIDE EFFECTS ETC. I’ve chosen pretty benign imagery so not too much to worry about there.

Here is my latest video where I do a parody ECT promo calling it what it is: brain damage therapy.

Enjoy!

 

An Important Speech Heard Too Late: Peter Breggin at Shock-Treatment​ Conference – 1985

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:

white text on a black background quote: there is no way to make shock safe, there is no way to warn people that it isn't safe, and so it must be banned. green cursive text: Linda Andre, Doctors of Deception

ECT Pamphlets: Somatics

I’m starting a new series on ECT misinformation.

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.

Doctor’s financial stake in shock therapy

Thymatron website

ECT, the Thymatron, and Dr. Richard Abrams

Back to the pamphlet.

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!

Read more :

Leonard Frank electroshock Quotationary

Shock Treatment Is Not Good For the Brain

 

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

Really?! REALLY?!

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

 

black on white text reads: what you need to know about electroconvulsive therapy
Somatics ECT information brochure cover
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.

Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage – Psychiatry’s Don’t Look, Don’t Tell Policy

Doctors of Deception

The Shock Quotationary

The Irving Janis Study

Shock Treatment is Not Good for Your Brain

Peter Breggin ECT Resouce Center

Electroshock Its Brain-Disabling Effects

 Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing

Sham ECT literature

Final thoughts

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

References 

Retrieved March 12, 2016, from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Hartelius_1952___Animals___Brain_damage__Definitive_.pdf

Abrams, R., & Swartz, C.Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.dbsasandiego.org/resources/Somatics%20ECT%20brochure.pdf

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. (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

Cauchon, D. (n.d.). Doctor’s financial stake in shock therapy (December 6, 1995 08:30 PM). Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/health/lhs194.htm

ECT Resources Center by Peter R. Breggin M.D. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.ectresources.org/

Frank, L. R. (2006). http://psychiatrized.org/LeonardRoyFrank/FromTheFilesOfLeonardRoyFrank.htm. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.endofshock.com/102C_ECT.PDF

Friedberg, J. (1976). Shock treatment is not good for your brain. San Francisco: Glide Publications.

Hartelius, H. (1952). cerebral changes following electrically induced convulsions. acta psychiactrica et neurologica scandinavica. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Hartelius_1952___Animals___Brain_damage__Definitive_.pdf

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

Lawrence, J. (2007, February 20). ECT, The Thymatron and Dr. Richard Abrams – HealthyPlace. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.healthyplace.com/depression/articles/ect-the-thymatron-and-dr-richard-abrams/

Robertson, H., & Pryor, R. (2006). Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing patients. Advances is psychiatric treatment, 12, 228-238. Retrieved from http://www.breggin.com/ECT/Electroshock-MemoryandCognitivEffects.pdf

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

Ross, C. A. (2006). The sham ECT literature: implications for consent to ECT. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 17-28. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscience/Ross_2006___Sham_ECT_Literatures.pdf

Swartz, C., & Abrams, R.Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.dbsasandiego.org/resources/Somatics%20ECT%20brochure.pdf

Thymatron. (n.d.). Somatics, LLC – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved June 11, 2016, from http://www.thymatron.com/main_faq.asp

Warneron, R. (n.d.). http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://akmhcweb.org/ncarticles/RichardWarneronShockTreatment.pdf

FDA: Electroshock has risks but is useful to combat severe depression – The Washington Post

In December 2015, Dan Hurley wrote a glowing piece about psychiatrist and ECT proponent, Sarah Lisanby and the “new ECT,” in the Atlantic. Well, he’s at it again in his new piece for the Washington Post FDA: Electroshock has risks but is useful to combat severe depression

Survivors and allies have already begun injecting some balance into this article via the comments. Feel free to join the discussion on both articles 🙂

 

Waiting on the FDA

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:

review the history and the law

The FDA’s failure to perform recommended testing in 2011

Only 72 Hours Left to Say #FDAStopTheShockDevice

The letter to the FDA ombudsman

And if you haven’t signed the Mindfreedom petition protesting this outrageous reclassification attempt by the the FDA, please consider giving it your John Hancock and sharing.

Thank you 🙂

Oliver: A Suvior’s Poem

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.

ELECTRO-CONVULSIVE THERAPY

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

Oliver Swingler
October 2000

“FDA Stop the Shock Device” Petition Comments

Here is a handful of the over 800 comments so far on our petition to the FDA, displayed on Tenney’s recent Mad in America post.

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.

The shock device has still not been FDA tested even though the FDA was instructed to do so in 2011 and, if you review the history and the law, actually should have happened decades ago.

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 🙂

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