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 🙂

 

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(Revised Version) Brain Damage Therapy

If you saw the original incarnation of this video, you know all about the style and timing issues. I got help from the app designers and was able to fix all the little pesky quirks and also add a TON of polish to this video.

In two days this video got 84 views and several comments! This activity makes me hesitant to take it down.

While I figure out what to do with the old version, you can help me get the truth out about electroshock by viewing, liking and sharing the new one.

If you already have, thank you! I hope you will consider doing the same for the revised version as well.

Thank you!

 


Video References

References
Andre, L. (1991, September). Electroshock as head injury. Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.ect.org/effects/headinjury…

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/ECTscienc…

Breggin, P. R. (2010). The FDA should test the safety of ECT machines (International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 22 (2010) 89–92). Retrieved from http://breggin.com/wp-content/uploads…

Breggin, P. R. (2015, April 8). Simple Truth 10: Electroshock is Brain Trauma [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOtac…

Breggin, P. R. (n.d.). Electroshock: scientific, ethical, and political issues. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from http://www.stopshrinks.org/reading_ro…

Corry, M. (2008, June 25). Barbaric age of electric shock ‘cure’ must vanish. Retrieved July 22, 2016, from http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/bar…

Frank, L. R. (2006). http://psychiatrized.org/LeonardRoyFr…. 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/ECTscienc…

Hickey, P. (2006, November 21). http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/e…. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/11/e…

Janis, I. (1950). Psychological effects of electric shock treatment. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 3. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscienc…

Ross, C. (2006). http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscienc…. Retrieved from http://www.ectresources.org/ECTscienc…

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

 

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!

 

DBS: Electroshock Isn’t All We Have to Fear

 

picture of a surgeon looking up from the view of an operating table. The room is darkened and two large round lights can be seen above the surgeon on either side.

Peter Breggin, psychiatric reformer and veteran of the battle to end psychosurgeries, interviewed Danielle Egan, a free-lance journalist who has done an extensive investigation on deep brain stimulation (DBS).

The brain uses a wide array of functions to create our reality, our ability to carry out and control actions, feel and connect with others and make us who we are. In the patient cases Danielle discusses, you see this brain generated reality and personhood disintegrate into something terrifyingly. The effects of DBS for depression seem to belong more in a horror movie– not modern medicine.

Listen to the podcast here.

Read Danielle’s Mad in America article here

And check out her other insightful pieces on this and other topics, social media, etc. here.

Some DBS background

DBS is used for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and it looks as though brain surgeons are eager to apply it to other conditions.(Poke around google or Youtube if you want to learn more about the Parkinson’s application.) 

In the case of depression treatment, DBS is a procedure where electrodes are placed in the brains of depressed individuals in locations thought to be associated with the patient’s distress. The goal of this invasive procedure is to electrically stimulate the brain in a way that will supposedly relieve the recipient’s depression.

Mainstream media complacency

Not surprisingly, much of the media exploring DBS fail to disclose the disturbing side-effects of this procedure.

Motives

Money and a love of oversimplifying the brain and human experience seem to be major driving factors for modern day psychosurgeries. This selective view of reality combined with greed has devastating consequences for patients.

Questionable ethics

I’ve said before that doctors recommending ECT are encouraging desperate people into risk-taking behavior. It is the equivalent of a doctor inviting a patient to a game of Russian Roulette except with ECT every chamber is loaded; there will always be damage to the brain and body with the potential of death. Browse blogs and comment threads people undergoing ECT and you will often see death wish ‘I hope I die during the procedure‘ statements. I personally shared some of this mentality when I underwent shock.

ECT = masochism and suicidal behavior encouraged and facilitated by psychiatrists.

Its seems DBS is no different. Doctors eager to experiment have suicidal people willing to become their guinea pigs.

The last, last resort

ECT is often touted as the ‘last resort’ for severe depression. Now DBS and other forms of psychosurgery seem to be considered as the last, last resort. 

Please, PLEASE ask questions! Read critical information about any treatment you may consider. Don’t believe anyone who says you are treatment resistant without considering alternative interpretations of your diagnosis and treatments. So many of us subjected to drugs and electroshock had real, sometimes medical, conditions fueling our distress.These problems could never be helped with antidepressants or shock. We’re lucky we found our solutions but for many of us, it’s too late; we are damaged to the point of permanent disability, and while we may feel better our lives are in tatters.   

Always ask questions.

Other related resources worth your time:

The Lobotomists are Back!


Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience

Spot a typo? Contact me at aftershocklifeafterect dot wordpress dot com. Thanks 🙂

References

Breggin, P. R. (2015, September 30). The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://prn.fm/the-dr-peter-breggin-hour-09-30-15/

Egan, D. (2015, September 24). The Perils of Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://www.madinamerica.com/2015/09/adverse-effects-perils-deep-brain-stimulation-depression/

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 🙂

 

When is Violent Act Considered Criminal?

if a doctor performs unmodified ECT when the new law enters into force he or she will be commiting crimial assult

TRIGGER WARNINGS! Articles discussing unmodified and modified ECT and an image of quoted observations of unmodified ECT

Torture or abandonment: unmodified ECT and the shocking position of Indian and global psychiatric leaders | Oliver talks.

Funny how electrocuting a fully conscious person into a grand mal seizure is only considered criminal assault after a law deems it so. Continue reading

Mental Survival

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!

From Amazon:

oliver book cover_
Mental Survival

Description

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 🙂

You can buy his wonderful work here

All royalties go to Newcastle Launchpad service user survivor/group.