Robert Whitaker's new book takes on mental health myths about psychiatric drugs.

The new book by journalist Bob Whitaker -- Anatomy of an Epidemic -- challenges the massive psychiatric drugging inundating our society. He also spotlights MindFreedom's activism more than once as a model of effectiveness.

 

 

MINDFREEDOM IRELAND

 

                                  PRESENTS

 

   EPIDEMIC EXPOSED –

 

ARE ‘MAGIC BULLETS’

 

 AN ILLUSION?

 

 

   ROBERT WHITAKER

 

AUTHOR OF

 

‘MAD IN AMERICA’ AND ‘ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC’

 

                                    OTHER SPEAKERS:         DR. TERRY LYNCH, 'BEYOND PROZAC'

 

KATHY SINNOTT, FORMER MEP

 

MARY MADDOCK, 'SOUL SURVIVOR'

 

TED CHABASINSKI, US ATTORNEY & PSYCHIATRIC SURVIVOR

 

CHAIR: MARTIN HYNES

 

 

TIME/VENUE:   7.30pm MONDAY FEBRUARY 28TH

CARRIGALINE COURT HOTEL

 

 

ADMISSION:             FREE – DONATIONS WELCOME

 

  ENQUIRIES:               021- 4894303.

www.mindfreedomireland.com

(In association with The Irish Network of Critical Voices in Mental Health)

 

 

Bob Whitaker is author of the new book, "Anatomy of an Epidemic," critical of the psychiatric drug industry.

 

 

 

 

COALITION AGAINST PSYCHIATRIC ASSAULTDecember 15, 2009 Food and Drug AdministrationDockets Management Branch (HFA-3055630 Fishers  Lane, Room 1061Rockville, MD  20852Docket Number FDA-2009-N-0392 CAPA Statement re Shock Machines

The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) strongly opposes the FDA’s intention to reclassify shock (“ECT”) machines from Class-III  (high-risk) to Class-II (low-risk). CAPA is a grassroots, political action organization of electroshock survivors, psychiatric survivors, health professionals, academics, social justice and antipsychiatry activists; it plans and organizes strategic actions against electroshock and psychiatric drugs – its two priorities. We wish to point out that several CAPA members have undergone electroshock and suffered permanent memory loss and brain damage from this allegedly “safe and effective treatment”. Since its founding over five years ago, CAPA has spoken out against electroshock, organized educational events such as public forums, free public lectures, and nonviolent public protests. CAPA has repeatedly and publicly called for an immediate ban.

CAPA’s continuing resistance to electroshock is based on several scientific facts and the personal testimony of many shock survivors:

Shock machines deliver up to 400 volts of electricity (Cameron, 1994)It has been established to a point of statistical significance that all forms of ‘ECT’ cause brain damage.The FDA has never tested shock machines for medical safety and therapeutic effectiveness. (Andre, 2009)During the shock treatment, electrodes are placed above the temporal lobes, the site of memory function in the brainEvery shock treatment causes a grand-mal epileptic seizure. convulsion and coma (Breggin, 1997,1998)Shock treatments cause many devastating effects - particularly brain damage, permanent memory loss, problems in concentration and learning, loss of creativity, and sometimes death. It has destroyed the careers and lives of many (Friedberg, 1977; Breggin, 1998, 2008; Frank, 1990, 2006; Sterling, 2002; Funk, 1998; Report of the Panel, 2005)Thirty years ago in a report on medical devices, the FDA officially listed 8  “risks to health” including brain damage and memory loss (Federal Register,1979; Andre, 2009)Women and the elderly are very vulnerable and suffer the most severe memory loss and brain damage (Sackeim, 2007); elderly women are the most vulnerable (Burstow, 2006; Weitz, 1997)2 to 3 times more women than men are electroshocked; women experience electroshock as a form of violence against women (Burstow, 2006a, 2006b) Shock treatments shorten the life of elderly patients (Black et al, 1989; Breggin, 1997, 2008; Kroessler & Fogel, 1993; Weitz, 1997)Since psychiatrists and other physicians frequently violate the patient’s right to informed consent, shock treatments are generally coercive (Breeding, 2000; Report of the Panel, 2005)Electroshock triggers terror and trauma in most patients. (Breggin, 1998; Report of the Panel, 2005)

Given these facts, we conclude that shock machines pose unacceptably high risks to the health and lives of hundreds of  thousands of people. We urge the FDA not to be pressured by the American Psychiatric Association, which is currently lobbying to reclassify them in Class-II. Until they are banned, all shock machines should remain in Class-III. We also recommend that the FDA start testing shock machines for their medical safety; we are confident they will be proved medically unsafe. As engines of destruction, shock machines have no place in the health care system of the United States and all other countries. They should have been banned long ago.

Dr. Bonnie Burstow, ChairDianne MooreDon WeitzExecutive Committee, Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA)

References

Andre, L. (2009). Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You To Know About Shock Treatment. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Black, D.W., Winokur, G., Mohandoss, E., Woolson, R.F. and Nasrallah, A. (1989) "Does treatment influence mortality in depressives? A follow-up of 1076 patients with major affective disorders.” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 1(3), 165-173.

Breeding, J. (2000). “Electroshock and Informed Consent.”Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 40, 65-79. Breggin, P. (1997). Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry. New York: Springer Publishing Company. Ch.8 “Electroshock for Depression”, 129-156.; 2nd  edition, 2008. Breggin, P. (1998). Electroshock: Scientific, Ethical, and Political Issues. International  Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine (11), 5-40. Burstow, B. (2006a) “Electroshock As a Form of Violence Against Women”, Violence Against Women, vol.12 no.4. 372-392. Burstow, B. (2006b). “Understanding and Ending ECT: A Feminist Imperative”. Canadian Woman Studies, vol. 25, numbers 1,2, 115-122. Cameron, D.G. (1994).  “ECT: Sham Statistics, the Myth of Convulsive Therapy, and the Case for Consumer Misinformation”, The Journal of Mind and Behavior, vol.15, numbers 1 and 2, 177-198Federal Register (November 28, 1979). “Classification of Electroconvulsive Therapy Devices”. Vol.43, No.220, 55729. Frank, L. (1990). “Electroshock: death, brain damage, memory loss, and brainwashing”. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 11, 489-512. Frank, L. (2006). The Electroshock Quotationary [online http://endofshock.com.] Friedberg, J. (1977).  Shock treatment, brain damage, and memory loss: a neurological perspective. American Journal of Psychiatry 134: 1010-1014.

Funk, W. (1998). “What DiffErenCe Does IT Make?”: Journey of a Soul Survivor. Cranbrook, B.C.: Wildflower Publishing Company [self-published].

Kroessler, D. and Fogel, B.S. (1993) "Electroconvulsive therapy for major depression in the oldest old". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 1(1), 30-37.

Sackeim, H.A et al (2007). “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings.” Neuropsychopharmacology, 32, 244-54.

Sterling, P. (October 2002). Comments on Brain Damage and Memory Loss From Electroconvulsive Shock. Dublin, Ireland: Wellbeing Foundation.Weitz, D. (1997).  “Electroshocking Elderly People: Another Psychiatric Abuse”.Changes: International Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy, vol.15 no.2

Dear Governor Dayton,

I am an electroshock survivor from Cork, Ireland.  I received electroshock three days after giving birth to my first child 35 years ago this month.  I cannot remember holding my baby girl in my arms for the first time because of electroshock.  I  have no recollection of having it and would not know only that my husband informed me.  I had 12 more zaps to my brain afterwards.  I have received my medical records  confirming the 'treatment'.

Is it not outrageous then that when scientific research shows clearly that electroshock causes brain damage and dysfunction that it is even forced on many people worldwide especially elderly women as in the case of Elizabeth K. Ellis?

Common sense alone would fail to see how causing an epeleptic fit could be good for the brain.

Please put an end to this NOW!   How could increasing Elizabeth's trauma be good for her and her family?

Yours sincerely

Mary Maddock

http://www.mindfreedomireland.com

 

Victory: FDA Panel Votes to Require Testing of ECT Device After Survivors Testify at FDA Electroshock Hearing

— filed under:

GAITHERSBURG, MD: A panel for the US Food & Drug Administration voted to ask the FDA to require testing of the device used for electroshock. MindFreedom members testified at these public hearings on whether to regulate electroshock device. [Update5]

Loretta Wilson, electroshock survivor from Michigan, plans to testify.

Update5 - 28 January 2011

 

Victory: Food & Drug Administration to Electroshock Industry: Testing Required!

 

After holding two days of public hearings, yesterday and today, the FDA panel on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has stated that "rigorous testing" is required, says the Washington Post.

The ECT device will therefore remain "Class Three," which means its safety and efficacy are unproven; the FDA says they will finally require the same testing used on other medical devices. This outcome is the opposite of what the electroshock industry has requested, and a first-step victory for those concerned about electroshock hazards. 

This evening the Washington Post reports about the hearings here. The article quoted MindFreedom member and Austin psychologist John Breeding, who testified:

"It was the best possible outcome we could have gotten." 

 

Below are previous updates about this story, including testimony from two of the MindFreedom members who spoke out at the hearing. At bottom is original alert with background information on the FDA battle.

 

Update4: 27 January 2011: By coincidence, today - the first day of the FDA hearing - is the day Elizabeth Ellis of Minnesota says "no" to her forced outpatient electroshock.

 

Update3: MindFreedom members are attending today's FDA hearing, and testifying. Read testimony here:

Dorothy Dundas: This month is 50th anniversary of her forced shock (PDF). 

Leonard Roy Frank: Electroshock survivor and author.

 

Update2 24 January 2011: NY Times runs brief article about FDA hearings here.

Update1 23 January 2011: According to one of the speakers, the known scheduled speakers opposing ECT include, by last name: Breeding John; Dundas Dorothy; Fisher Dan; Frank Leonard; Posthauer Dianna; Reynolds Carol; Scogin Evelyn; Tenney Lauren; Wilson Loretta

 

 

19 January 2011 - Original alert

 

    Updates About US Government Public Hearing on Electroshock

    US Food & Drug Administration Holds Public Hearings Next Week:

    Thursday, 27 January and Friday, 28 January 2011

 

Also, called "electroconvulsive therapy" or ECT, the controversial procedure has been done for 70 years in the USA, including at times involuntarily to this day, but was "grandfathered in" by the US government.

So the ECT device has never been tested or regulated for safety and effectiveness!

 

BELOW are brief updates about:

 

** how to comment to the US government online** who MindFreedom has heard is attending the hearings, and how you may attend** commentary on shock by dissident psychologist and author John Breeding** how to get more information about the hearings and electroshock

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

ACTION: COMMENT *SOON* ON US GOVERNMENT WEB SITE ABOUT ELECTROSHOCK!

The FDA is inviting public comment via its web site, but your deadline is this Tuesday, 25 January 2011. Your comments become part of the public record. Even registering a brief statement of concern shows there is public attention. If you can also make any specific points based on evidence or experience, that can help too. You may even comment on other comments.

You may register and comment for free on the FDA web site here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2010-N-0585-0001

or use this link:

http://3.ly/FDACommentECT

Official FDA information about FDA ECT hearing is here:

http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/ucm234979.htm

or use this link:

http://3.ly/FDAHearingECT

FDA Docket No.: FDA-2010-N-0585

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

ADVOCATES AND ELECTROSHOCK SURVIVORS TO ATTEND HEARING

MindFreedom is aware of a number of advocates, allies and electroshock survivors who are attending (note not all are shock survivors), including:

John Breeding, Dorothy Dundas, Dan Fisher, Leonard Roy Frank, Dianna Posthauer, Lauren Tenney, Loretta Wilson

 

Loretta Wilson (photo above) is an electroshock survivor who has helped start MindFreedom Michigan. You can hear her interview on MindFreedom Radio archive, here.

 

You may join these advocates, and attend the hearings for free on 27 & 28 January 2011, here:

Hilton Ballroom

620 Perry Pkwy.

Gaithersburg, MD

For information, contact FDA liaison James Engles at 1-301 796-7543.

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

MINDFREEDOM "ZAPBACK INITIATIVE"

For 25 years, MindFreedom has helped coordinate a MindFreedom ZAPBACK initiative to challenge human rights violations related to electroshock. MindFreedom provides an e-mail list ZAPBACK to MindFreedom members to network those interested. Current MindFreedom members may sign up free here:

http://www.intenex.net/lists/listinfo/mindfreedom-zapback

 

Peacefully unite and.... Zap Back!

~~~~~~~~~~~

BELOW is commentary supplied to ZAPBACK by a long-time MindFreedom member, psychologist and author John Breeding of Texas. (The author is responsible for content.)

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

FDA and Electroshock

 

by John Breeding

January 2011

 

History

 

As always a bit of history is a good place to start; in this case, three bits.

 

First, my own. I have been active challenging electroshock for about 20 years. I was honored to serve on the advisory board of the World association of Electroshock Survivors, courtesy of heroine Diann'a Loper's invitation, back when she and that group were leading the charge in the Texas legislature that almost go shock banned in the state--did in fact for young people under age 16. My continuing personal opposition to electroshock comes as part of the Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock in Texas, whose activities are described on our Web site, http://www.endofshock.com. As our name implies, we are an abolitionist group, and our intention is exactly that--to end the use of electroshock.

 

I have also had the privilege of working with a lot of courageous electroshock survivors, many as fellow activists challenging the procedure, a few as counseling clients. I have personally witnessed the profound damage, most apparent in terms of memory loss and learning disability. I have seen again and again, electroshock's contribution to the disability epidemic chronicled by Robert Whitaker in his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. I have gotten personally close to three individuals who suffer from permanent seizure disorders, as an effect of electroshock. I am angry.

 

Second, the beginning of electroshock. As an electroshock abolitionist, I am in surprising company. Italian psychiatrist Ugo Cerletti created electroshock in 1938 after observing its use to stun pigs in a slaughterhouse before killing them. After witnessing his first ECT experiment on a human being, wrote, "When I saw the patient's reaction, I thought to myself: This ought to be abolished."

 

Another witness to that event, German-born psychiatrist Lothar Kalinowsky, emigrated to the United States, where he became a leading ECT specialist. Kalinowsky said many years later, "According to my wife--because I don't remember it exactly--she claims that when I came home I was very pale and said, 'I saw something terrible today--I never want to see that again!'"

 

If these two shock doctors had been true to their initial experiences, we would have avoided the plague of brain damage and ruined lives caused by ECT. Instead, they spawned what has become a multibillion-dollar industry, with an estimated 100,000 Americans and as many as 2 million victims worldwide electroshocked every year.

 

At recent public demonstrations, our array of signs has included "Electroshock Is a Crime Against Humanity" and "ECT = Electro Convulsive Torture." Clearly our coalition sees electroshock as a violation of human rights and dares to call it torture.

 

Third, the history of FDA involvement. I cannot recommend highly enough Linda Andre's 2009 book, Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You To Know about Shock Treatment. It is a tour de force and will tell you everything you need to know about the practice and the research (or lack of). A very brief synopsis is that psychiatric industry public relations has thus far won out over science in the effort to sell electroshock as a medical procedure.

 

Get the details from Doctors of Deception; the short story is that the FDA's involvement with electroshock is another sordid example of government agency catering to industry and doing everything they can to deny and obfuscate the evidence. Prior to 1976 there was no federal regulation of medical devices. The Medical Devices Amendment of 1976 put the FDA in charge of classifying devices on the basis of safety and effectiveness. Class II devices are considered low-risk; class III is the high-risk classification for devices in which "benefits have not been shown to outweigh risks," and which present "a potential unreasonable risk of injury or illness."

 

Due to intense effort lead by psychiatric survivors Marilyn Rice and Linda Andre and their Committee on Truth in Psychiatry, electroshock machines have remained in Class III even though the FDA repeatedly ignored large parts of the law it was supposed to carry out, and allowed the electroshock device industry to flagrantly ignore FDA mandates to meet the standards on premarket approval (PMA) of medical devices.

 

Due to ongoing activism, electroshock machines remain in Class III despite the FDA's express intention since the early 1980s to reclassify them as safe--not with legitimate PMA research, but contingent only on the development of a performance standard. Incredibly, when the industry succeeded in pressuring Congress to lower the standards for reclassification of medical devices to "special controls"--loosely defined guidelines and recommendations--the manufacturers still ignored the mandatory call to submit evidence, and there were no consequences. The FDA was again not willing to enforce the law. In fact, they took on the manufacturers' task and decided they would do their own studies of the literature. Andre reveals the systematic bias of this effort.

 

The industry continues to electroshock large numbers, but our resistance has thus far foiled its efforts to get the machines reclassified as safe. So now we come to another round of hearings. Please do weigh in:

 

James Engles 1-301 796-7543

 

http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/ucm234979.htm Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0585

 

Safety

 

** Death - As Leonard Roy Frank shows in his article on "Electroshock and Death," estimates of ECT death rates range from 1 in 10,000 to as low as 1 in 4 among the very elderly (http://www.endofshock.com/101i%20brochure%20on%20deaths%203-29.doc ).

 

** Brain Damage - The average electroshock procedure as administered today typically induces a level of electricity approximately two and one-half times greater than what is needed to induce a convulsion. Systematic brain damage is unavoidable, a fact that is documented in a number of brain scan studies and other reports. Even some electroshock advocates are finally acknowledging this. In an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2007, longtime ECT proponent and prominent researcher Harold Sackeim of Columbia University and colleagues, acknowledged ECT causes permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect individuals' ability to function. The article notes, "This study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings." (http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v32/n1/pdf/1301180a.pdf).

 

** Memory Loss - This sine qua non of brain damage is extremely well-documented. Sackeim admits in his 2001 editorial in The Journal of ECT that "...virtually all patients experience some degree of persistent and, likely, permanent retrograde amnesia." The only question is how much.

 

** Cardiovascular Complications - Well-documented.

 

** Extra risks on all three categories above for the elderly, who are the primary target population; about half of those undergoing ECT are 60 years of age and older.

 

** Seizures and Epilepsy - At least two members of our own local coalition have seizure disorders as a result of electroshock.

 

** Negative emotional effects of electroshock include terror, shame, helplessness and hopelessness.

 

** See the CAEST website at www.endofshock.com for documentation of the above information.

 

Efficacy

 

Electroshock directly violate the Hippocratic oath to first do no harm, the practice has never been proven effective. There are no lasting beneficial effects of electroshock; sham-electroshock (anesthesia but no electroshock) has the same short-term outcomes as electroshock (see Ross, C.A. , 2006, "The sham ECT literature: Implications for consent to ECT," Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 8).

 

Let me reference Harold Sackeim one final time, from an article he wrote with several colleagues in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, titled, "Continuation Pharmacotherapy in the Prevention of Relapse Following Electroconvulsive Therapy." They state in their conclusion, "Our study indicates that without active treatment, virtually all remitted patients relapse within 6 months of stopping ECT." (Italics mine)

 

I have worked with scores of electroshock survivors, and I can tell you the damage is consistent and terrible. I can also tell you as a psychologist that there are methods so much gentler, safer and more effective to help people with depression. The United Kingdom has a better regulatory agency than our FDA. They banned many of the psychiatric drugs for children. Regarding electroshock, they went and pulled together all the reports they could find from the people who actually received electroshock. Unsurprising to us, they found memory loss as the dominant theme of all the literature. Their National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) concluded that the use of electroshock should be limited, especially due to cognitive impairment "often lasting to such a degree that it outweighed any perception of benefit..."

In sum, psychiatric electroshock is very harmful and dangerous, and is not even effective. There is no excuse to relax FDA approval standards regarding ECT devices.

 

Tell the FDA to do the right thing and at the very least require a complete Pre-Market Approval submission on these machines, and not let public relations substitute for facts.

 

Contact James Engles at 1-301 796-7543.

 

Submit electronic testimony on Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0585 at:

 

http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/ucm234979.htm

 

I think it is our duty to make sure they are not allowed to deny the damages perpetrated on our citizens by electroshock.

 

Thanks for your help!

 

- John Breeding

 (-end of Breeding essay-)

~~~~~~~~~~~

MORE INFORMATION BY MFI ABOUT ELECTROSHOCK

Throughout the world -- including throughout the USA -- some individuals get electroshock involuntarily over their expressed wishes, such as guest Ray Sandford of Minnesota. For info about MindFreedom's campaign to stop Ray's forced court-ordered outpatient shock see http://www.mindfreedom.org/ray

Truly, the electroshock device is the unregulated "Bernie Madoff" of USA mental health, today. A new rubber glove for doctors is regulated. Not electroshock.

You may order Linda Andre's book "Doctors of Deception" about electroshock in MindFreedom's Mad Market here:

http://www.madmarket.org

Search for author name -- Andre.

Or go directly to here to order her book.

http://3.ly/AndreElectroshock

You may download an Irish Times about recent academic review of electroshock here:

http://3.ly/IrishTimesECT

You may download a PDF of Read & Bentall's new 15-page review here:

http://3.ly/ReadBentallECT

More info on electroshock at MindFreedom web site:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Minnesota Woman Says "No!" to Her Forced Outpatient Electroshock

— filed under:

Elizabeth Ellis, 67, tells MindFreedom, "I have never believed in ECT!" She and husband Robert stay home today, and do NOT report for another forced outpatient shock. You you can take action to help!

Robert (left) is the husband of Elizabeth K. Ellis (right) who is court ordered to receive forced electroshock on an outpatient basis.

 27 January 2011

How you can support Elizabeth Ellis saying "No!" to forced electroshock.

By coincidence: today is the first of 2 days of FDA public hearings on shock device

 

by David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International 

This morning, Elizabeth K. Ellis, 67, of Moorhead, Minnesota was supposed to wake up extra early.

Her husband Robert was supposed to drive Elizabeth the five minutes to a mental health clinic in nearby Fargo. 

And Elizabeth was supposed to have another court-ordered involuntary outpatient electroshock. 

It would have been her 18th forced shock.

Supported by MindFreedom International, Elizabeth and her husband Robert (see photo above) stayed home this morning, rather than endure another forced electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). They're terrified the mental health system may retaliate.

For online action YOU can take to support Elizabeth, and to read her story of resisting forced electroshock, see BELOW. 

Today of all days, is a good one for this couple and you to say "no" to forced outpatient electroshock.

For the first time in 70 years, the US government is considering regulating the electroshock device. Today and tomorrow, the Food & Drug Administration is holding public hearings in Gaithersburg, Maryland about whether to finally investigate the ECT device for safety and efficacy. A number of MindFreedom members are testifying. For news from the hearing as it arrives check: http://3.ly/MFIFDAECT

~~~~~~~

 

* ACTION * ACTION * ACTION *

 

Please email the new Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Sample message (your own words are best):

"Please investigate the involuntary outpatient electroshocks of Minnesota resident Elizabeth K. Ellis, 67, as reported by MindFreedom International. Please make sure the mental health system does not retaliate. Support Elizabeth in finding human alternatives to forced ECT! Please reply."

Include your contact info.

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS:

 

** Phone both Gov. Dayton and Lt. Governor Solon:

http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/

** FORWARD this message to all human rights supporters.

~~~~~~~

 

HER STORY: FORCED ELECTROSHOCK OF ELIZABETH ELLIS

 

Involuntary Outpatient Electroshock in the USA

 

Though most people don't know it, involuntary electroshock over the expressed wishes of the subject is allowed by law internationally, including in every US State. ECT runs electricity through the brain causing a convulsion, supposedly to treat depression, and leads to permanent memory and cognitive disabilities, even though humane alternatives exist. 

MindFreedom argues that forced electroshock is opposed by the World Health Organization, violates the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons With Disabilities, and amounts to torture.

In 2009, MindFreedom won a major campaign on behalf of another Minnesota resident, Ray Sandford, who received more than 40 involuntary electroshocks, including many on an outpatient basis. Ray won international attention, and public pressure stopped his forced shocks. You can read about the Ray campaign here: http://mindfreedom.org/ray

This past Sunday, Elizabeth K. Ellis of Moorhead, Minnesota -- who is a member of MindFreedom International -- revealed on a national MFI teleconference that she was being forced to have electroshock by court order, on an outpatient basis. 

Elizabeth knows what she's talking about when she says "no" to forced electroshock. Elizabeth spent 17 years employed in the school system, mostly as a teacher, and five of those years were as a guidance counselor. Elizabeth has a master's degree in counseling.

Elizabeth told MindFreedom, "Decades ago, I started to use the mental health system. But I have never believed in ECT, and I have written a personal advance directive that I did not want electroshock, and did not want medication either."

This Fall, Elizabeth had a crisis: "My sister Joanne died of lung cancer in September 2010 at the age of 69. Moments after my sister died in the hospital, I became especially upset. Immediately, while still in the hospital where my sister had just died, a family member held me and involuntarily admitted me into mental health care." 

 

ANOKA STATE HOSPITAL BEGINS FORCED ELECTROSHOCK

 

Elizabeth was locked up in Anoka State Hospital and, because of weight loss while locked up, was prescribed a course of involuntary electroshock. Ray Sandford says this is the same institution that started his round of forced electroshocks. 

Says Elizabeth: "I was locked up for three-and-a-half months. When I got out on on January 5th of this month, they told me I had to keep getting the electroshock on an outpatient basis under court order. They said if my husband did not drive me over to get electroshock, I would be locked up again in a state institution." 

Elizabeth said she has no real legal assistance. The couple could not afford a private attorney, so she was assigned a public defender who the couple said sided with the State about the forced electroshock. 

So at the start of this month, every week, early in the morning, the couple -- under court order -- drove to a nearby clinic in adjoining Fargo, North Dakota for another involuntary electroshock for Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth had a lot of reasonable complaints: "The electroshock caused cognitive problems. I can't think. My memory -- I have no memory."

After a few weeks, Elizabeth's husband Robert complained to her doctor that she was being harmed, and that the electroshocks should totally stop. Robert said, "The doctor told me he would reschedule the treatments to every other week, but that he would not stop at this point."

So today, Elizabeth was scheduled for what the couple said would have been her 18th electroshock. 

After MindFreedom contacted legal advocacy, the couple decided to stay at home this morning, and not make the drive again to Fargo, again.

 

ELIZABETH LOOKS INTO HER ELECTROSHOCK

 

To find out more about her electroshocks while in the institution, Elizabeth said, "I've been reading through my records. It's very interesting to note how they really pushed ECT in my records to get the court to sign off on it."

Elizabeth said she feels trapped. "I have never agreed with ECT. But I know that once you get into the system for over 30 years, it's very hard to get out, as a client. I have a lot of reservations about the quality of health that is offered now a days. I have never agreed with electroshock."

Elizabeth discovered in her records that she actively tried to stop her electroshocks in the institution. Said Elizabeth, "My records say that while I was in the Anoka State Hospital this past Fall, I refused electroshock. My records state that they had to physically force me and lift me up in a chair to move me to the electroshock table, because I refused."

Elizabeth is remarkably articulate and insightful about why she does not want more forced electroshocks: 

"It just scares me that three and a half months of my life have been totally wiped out. Lord knows what has happened. And it's not just the previous three months but years back in the past, such as many childhood memories. I don't think electroshock has a benefit when compared to a deficit of losing your own mind. My doctors say the benefits will help the person, but to me it's had the opposite effect."

Elizabeth added, "Thank God there's an organization like yours, MindFreedom. Electroshock is becoming a popular treatment. They're trying to promote it. There's a push for ECT."

Her husband Robert added, "The only thing I can say is, I'm sorry that she went through electroshock. I'd like to have her get off of them completely. I talked to the psychiatrist, and he said her memory would gradually come back when the treatments were spread further apart to every two weeks." Her memory has not come back. 

 

PREVENT RETALIATION: SPEAKING UP FOR ELIZABETH!

 

MindFreedom phoned the Fargo facility doing the electroshock, and a psychiatric nurse there, Renee, said, "I am just doing my job. You should talk to her treating psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Row." Dr. Row works for Center For Psychiatric Care in Moorhead, Minnesota. According to Renee, after Elizabeth left Anoka psychiatric institution, the first of Elizabeth's outpatient forced electroshocks began even before she had seen Dr. Row. 

MindFreedom has multiple phone messages in to a variety of individuals Elizabeth said are involved in her case, including:

 

The psychiatrist who she said gave the electroshock, Dr. Nadeem Haider.

The director of the Fargo clinic where he works, Cindy Skoric.

Elizabeth's psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Row. 

Director of the Minnesota Disability Law Center, attorney Pamela Hoopes. 

So far, none have returned the calls.

This morning, I was able to patch in Ray Sandford by three-way-phone to Elizabeth and introduce them. Ray talked about his successful campaign, which Elizabeth had heard of. Ray encouraged Elizabeth to stay strong, and talked about how well he is doing now, free of electroshocks. Both Elizabeth and Ray are devoutly religious, and they discussed relying on their Christian faith and local religious leaders to support them during their ordeals. 

They also discussed fear of retaliation by the mental health system for saying "no." In Ray's case, he was in a group home where guards woke him up early each Wednesday for the trip to his forced electroshock. Physically, Ray said he had no chance to stop the shocks. Ray said, "When I was in the hospital for one of my forced outpatient electroshocks, I actually saw someone brought into the hospital wearing handcuffs for one of his ECT procedures."

Elizabeth has an advantage over Ray, since she and her husband Robert live independently in their own rented home. The couple stands united.

 

AN INTERSECTION OF OPPRESSIONS

 

And this time, more of the public are -- nationally and in Minnesota, thanks to MindFreedom -- aware that involuntary outpatient electroshock is a reality in the USA. MindFreedom found that opposing involuntary electroshock is one thing almost all Americans -- conservative and liberal, red state and blue state -- fiercely oppose, once shown evidence it exists. 

Like most USA states, Minnesota has involuntary outpatient commitment laws that allow court ordered treatment -- usually psychiatric drugging -- against a person's will, even if they are living in their own home peacefully in the community. 

Since the tragedy in Arizona on 8 January, the mainstream media has given a great deal of coverage to a small extremist group -- Treatment Advocacy Center -- that is pushing for expanded outpatient commitment laws, which they rename with a misleading euphemism of "assisted treatment." I've been blogging about media bias after the Arizona tragedy here: 

http://www.mindfreedom.org/mfi-blog

 

TAC itself may be divided about the issue, since TAC board member Fred Frese, PhD talks about how he personally managed to avoid forced electroshock while institutionalized. While TAC goes about its crusade, Elizabeth and Robert, peaceful senior citizens living in their own home -- which we are told is our 'castle' -- are experiencing the end result: terror. 

Forced electroshock while living at home in the community, is the logical end result of involuntary outpatient commitment. Elizabeth is at an intersection of oppressions. And she is saying "no."

This could be your neighbor or loved one. 

This could be you.

Elizabeth and Robert did not go to their forced electroshock today, thanks to MindFreedom.

 

SO SPEAK UP ABOUT ELECTROSHOCK!

 

By coincidence, this couple courageously said "no" on the very same day electroshock survivors are speaking out at FDA public hearings about whether to begin regulating the device for the first time in 70 years. 

We must all stand with Elizabeth and Robert, so that the mental health system provides humane choices, rather than retaliation. 

Please take the ACTION above to contact the fairly new Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, today!

The former Governor of Minneosta Tim Pawlenty may run for president under a banner of being against "big government." But let us all remember Pawlenty did absolutely nothing when hundreds of people complained to his office about Ray Sandford's forced electroshock. MindFreedom even sent a delegation, including myself, to Gov. Pawlenty office, but he and his office stayed silent.

Now is the time to see if Governor Dayton will stand up for the most powerless of citizens, who Governor Pawlenty betrayed.

There is an overwhelming power imbalance between a mental health industry fueled by billions of taxpayer dollars, versus some of the most vulnerable and marginalized US citizens, in this case a senior woman whose most recent entry into the psychiatric system began the same day she lost her beloved sister.

Support Elizabeth!

Take the above ACTION!

And understand: More than reform in mental health is needed. We need a peaceful revolution, today. 

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This is the 25th Anniversary Year of MindFreedom International!

 

United. Independent. Activism.

 

Join or donate now here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

MindFreedom International is one of the few totally-independent nonprofit coalitions supporting the voice of survivors of psychiatric human rights violations, with zero funding from the mental health system, governments, drug companies or religions.

While most members have experienced human rights violations in mental health care, MFI is open to all. 

That means *your* membership and donation are crucial to MindFreedom International's campaigns for human rights and alternatives.

Join the MFI community and celebrate MFI's 25th Anniversary Year, united!

Join or donate now here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

You may make a one-time annual donation, or set up automatic monthly donations to match your budget.

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Please forward to all who support human rights in mental health.

If you did not receive this public news alert directly from the mindfreedom-news public e-mail alert system, please add your e-mail address to this free no-spam service, which does not require membership:

http://www.intenex.net/lists/listinfo/mindfreedom-news

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