day. We held our protest outside The Peace Park in the
centre of the city where we have had quite a number of
anti-shock protests in the past. The iron railings of the
park facilitate our two big Ban Shock signs. In addition
we had lots of other signs with the usual messages and
another huge Stop Shock banner which had arrived from
Deborah in Oregon earlier in the year. Our prevailing colour
scheme was red and white, the MindFreedom Ireland colours
and also the county colours of Cork, known throughout
Ireland as The Rebel County.
site, some who had traveled from Dublin and Waterford and
there was a great engagement with passers by between shared
conversations and leaflet handouts. The most common
response was 'Do they still do that?' Four people
- Colette Ni Dhuinneacha, Mary Power, Kevin Foley and Mary Maddock - gave personal
testimonies of their shock experience. Also in The Peace
Park was an LGBT group demonstrating for a Yes vote in our
upcoming Referendum on same sex marriage and on the
suggestion of Derry Mescal, we united our two banners in a symbolic
gesture of solidarity and support for human rights for both
along with further music from the LGBT group, added greatly
to a vibrant atmosphere. The day was a wonderful
experience for all involved, especially for those for whom
it was their first time to actively campaign. In keeping
with David Oak's advice to be 'our own media' we
took pictures which are already posted and also filmed the
event which we hope to have up very soon. In addition we
achieved coverage in two local papers, including an
Evening Echo centre-page 1000 word article by yours truly
entitled 'Shock 'therapy' - Yes they still do
the nearby Quay Co-Op vegetarian restaurant, all invigorated
by feeling part of an historic international event!
The Cork News
CORK SHOCK PROTEST PART OF WORLDWIDE CAMPAIGN.
“Do they still do that?“ is the typical response of the average lay person whenever the subject of electroshock is raised. And the answer is Yes.
In 2012, the latest year for which figures are available, 244 people received electroshock in Irish hospitals. And worst of all, 27 people received it against their will in line with Section 59b of the 2001 Mental Health Act which allows it to be given to a person who is “unable or unwilling” to consent, on the say-so of two psychiatrists.
In his Annual Report for 2013, the Chairman of The Mental Health Commission John Saunders states “The Commission is still concerned that ECT can be administered to detained persons against their will.” In 2011 Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch established an Expert Group to review the 2001 Act. In its Report published last March it stated that “there are diverging views both within and outside the psychiatric profession on the necessity and/or efficacy “ of electroshock.
Those diverging views are expressed in the language. Proponents will use the term ‘Electroconvulsive Therapy’ (ECT) - opponents, not accepting it is therapy, prefer the more realistic term ‘electroshock’.
During the procedure electrodes are placed on one or both temples and an electric current of between 70 and 400 volts is passed through the brain of the person resulting in a seizure or grand mal convulsion. In its early years the person was physically restrained without anaesthetic which frequently resulted in broken bones and teeth. It was unadulterated torture graphically illustrated in the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and a PR disaster for the psychiatric profession.
Today they refer to it as new, improved ‘modified ECT’ but this is just a propaganda claim as it has been so for the last 40 years. A general anaesthetic is given along with muscle relaxing drugs, the person feels nothing during the quick operation and as the information leaflets say, may only suffer some initial confusion and headache which will soon pass.
This is a sanitised view which is at odds with the reality as reported by many recipients. By using anaesthetic and muscle relaxants, even more electricity has to be used causing even more brain damage. The person will still display an intense facial grimace and twitching limbs, the sign to the psychiatrist that ‘a successful fit’ has been achieved. This will be one ‘treatment’ which can be repeated up to 3 times in a week. A ‘programme’ of electroshock can rise to a maximum of 12 ‘treatments’, the average being 8.
It is universally agreed in medicine that occurrence of seizures is always harmful to the brain. Within neurology every effort is made to prevent them. Psychiatry is the only branch of medicine that specialises in deliberately causing them.
Afterwards, the person is dazed, confused and disorientated, consistent with an acute brain injury - a concussion such as a blow to the head with a hammer. Some later feel a temporary euphoria which is offered as a plus. However, many also experience retrograde and anterograde (before and after the event) amnesia and further brain dysfunction including problems with concentration, decision making, creativity, problem solving ability and processing new information, conditions which can last a lifetime.
Famously, Kitty Dukakis, the former First Lady Of Massachusetts was able to drive home afterwards as she embarked on a course of regular ‘maintenance’ electroshock while the writer Ernest Hemingway said they had “robbed me of my capital” meaning his memory before taking his own life.
And then there is the issue of consent. Psychiatry’s justification for shock is just a theory. It has no scientific foundation. It is unable to scientifically say how electroshock ‘works’. So when people give their consent, they cannot be giving fully informed consent because psychiatry, by its own admission, is not fully scientifically informed. Even those who do, do so when they are in a vulnerable state and often will already have been heavily drugged, leaving their mind in a numbed state. For those unwilling, there can be no greater violation of their human rights. Ironically, that argument is turned on its head by psychiatry which claims it is a denial of those human rights and unprofessional and unethical to deny the person full access to any treatment they say may be of benefit.
‘Refractory to medication’ is the phrase they use to justify their actions and point to research such as the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network study as evidence of its worth. But research carried out by enthusiasts for the practice hardly is impartial and the fact remains that even among psychiatry itself, there are many who will never resort to it.
For many years there were no Irish statistics available on electroshock and the reports of the Inspector of Mental Health Services frequently spoke of the electroshock Register being ‘missing’ or ‘unavailable’. The 548 page 2004 Mental Health Commission Report contained one sentence on the subject. Only after public disquiet and a sustained campaign by Dublin psychiatrist Dr. Michael Corry did reporting improve but the latest figures available still only refer to 2012.
These show that 2152 single treatments were given to 244 people in Irish hospitals. Twice as many women than men were recipients, the oldest a woman of 92. Fifty-two women and 17 men between the ages of 70 - 89 were shocked. The figures also reflect the diverging opinions within psychiatry with some hospitals reporting a high figure and others none at all. St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin had the highest number of programmes with 120, followed by Waterford Regional Hospital with 30. No programmes were administered in any of the Cork hospitals.
Even given this divergence, only a few brave psychiatrists have stated their positions in public. First there was the late Dr. Noel Browne, then Dr Ivor Browne, then the above mentioned Dr. Michael Corry and currently the Director of West Cork Mental Health Services Dr. Pat Bracken. Dr Corry conducted an intense campaign in the media calling for the abolition of electroshock. He was a hero for the many people who had been traumatised by their experience. They included my wife who was shocked 3 days after the birth of our daughter and who, to this day, has no recollection whatsoever of what should have been one of the most precious memories of her life. It explains why today she is a founder member of MindFreedom Ireland and a passionate campaigner, not just against electroshock, but for the full recognition of the human rights of all those caught in the nexus of psychiatry and its forced ‘treatments’.
At 2pm on Saturday May 16th, MindFreedom Ireland will organise a public protest against electroshock outside Bishop Lucey Park on The Grand Parade, Cork. It will be their 7th such protest and will coincide with similar protests being held in more than 30 cities and 9 countries worldwide. Many recipients will provide personal testimonies of their experiences. MindFreedom Ireland calls for the implementation of full human rights for all people at all times and for the total abolition of a dehumanising and outdated practice.
Most of this article was published in the Evening Echo May 15th
A public protest against the controversial psychiatric practice of electroshock will take place in Cork on Saturday, May 16th 2015.
The protest will coincide with similar events being organised in over 30 cities and 9 countries around the world and is being held to honour the memory of American recipient Leonard Roy Frank, a lifelong opponent of electroshock who died earlier this year.
It is being organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a Cork based survivor/activist group and will be their 7th such annual protest. Personal testimonies will be given by people who have been the recipients of electroshock.
In the 2013 Annual Report of The Mental Health Commission, the Chairman John Saunders states "The Commission is still concerned that ECT can be administered to detained persons against their will." The recently published Report of The Expert Group on The Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 states that "there are diverging views both within and outside the psychiatric profession on the necessity and/or efficacy" of electroshock.
The practice involves passing an electric current through the brain provoking a grand mal seizure or convulsion. Proponents claim it can help people who are severely depressed while opponents point to the brain damage and particularly memory loss associated with the procedure and say any claimed benefits are only temporary, necessitating even more and more programmes. A single programme can involve up to a maximum of 12 separate treatments.
Latest figures from The Mental Health Commission reveal that 311 programmes or 2152 single 'treatments' were given to 244 people in Irish hospitals in 2012. Twenty seven people were electroshocked without their consent in keeping with Section 59b of the 2001 Mental Health Act which still allows for it to be given to a person who is "unable or unwilling" to consent, on the say-so of two psychiatrists. Promised legislation to omit the word 'unwilling' has yet to be enacted.
As is the case worldwide, twice as many women than men were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012, the oldest being a woman of 92 while 52 women and 17 men between the ages 70 to 89 were also recipients.
Member of The Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault and author of the recently published book ' Psychiatry and the Business of Madness' Toronto academic Bonnie Burstow said "All of us in our own cities in our own different ways will be together protesting on May 16th. How wonderful that Cork, Ireland is once again part of an international protest against electroshock."
In addition to Leonard Roy Frank, MindFreedom Ireland are dedicating their protest to the memory of the late Dr. Michael Corry, Dr. Aine Tubridy and John Mc Carthy all of whom passionately campaigned for its abolition.
MindFreedom Ireland was founded in 2003 and in 2006 held what was Ireland's first public protest against electroshock. In 2011 it hosted a conference addressed by, among others, Limerick psychotherapist and author Dr. Terry Lynch, American journalist and founder of Mad in America Robert Whittaker and American lawyer Ted Chabasinski who had received electroshock as a child of 6 in Belleview Hospital in New York. He, along with fellow survivors Deborah Schwartzkopff and Mary Maddock, are the chief co-ordinators for the world wide May protest.
Founder of MindFreedom Ireland Mary Maddock said " Electroshock is a barbaric practice. I received 13 sessions of it after the birth of my daughter and it left me with permanent memory loss and dysfunction. We call for a total abolition of the practice."
The Cork protest takes place outside The Peace Park on The Grand Parade from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday May 16th and all are welcome.
An Evening with Terry Lynch
who will be interviewed by Patrice Campion
on his new book
The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’
Personal testimonies will be given by Colette Ni Dhuinneacha, Barbara Barrett, John Sawkins and Mary Maddock on how the ’Depression Delusion’ impacted their lives followed by questions from the audience.
‘ Sing it from the Mountains’ composed by Mary Maddock will be sung by Susan Mendez.
8.00 pm Tuesday 8th September
in the Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork.
" This is so true. My next book on similar theme will be published by Sept 2015, "Depression Delusion, Volume One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance". This delusion needs to be blown out of the water for once and for all. " Dr Terry Lynch
Mindfreedom Ireland Press Releases