Recently, it has been revealed that the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), seclusion and physical restraint in the treatment of psychiatric patients have all increased for the first time in years, according to the Mental Health Commission.

ECT is a treatment formally known as electroshock therapy which involves the administration of small currents to the brain in order to relieve symptoms of psychiatric illness.

There was a 70% rise in the number of ECT programmes given to patients who were either unwilling to receive it or unable to consent.

Mary Maddock underwent ECT. She spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime about her treatment. She couldn't remember the first time but she did receive 13 series of it.

She said: "It's often used as a threat to people, even if they don't receive it.

"When you receive electroshock, as I call it, it's in order to have a seizure, the brain to have a seizure. People know that seizures are not good to have. We know that people forget so many things if they have seizures."

Presenter Jonathan Healy asked does the procedure hurt. Mary responded: "You don't feel it but you feel the affects afterwards. Afterwards, you can't remember a long time preceding that time.

"When I was in the hospital the second time, the so-called hospital I call it, I couldn't remember all the people that came in to see me or anything like that.

"To go back to life after having received this kind of, I don't call it treatment, having received that, to exist afterwards is very, very hard. It's hard to have a job, to provide for yourself."

She went on to detail that the treatment was forced upon her: "It was forced upon me, because it wasn't with informed consent. (correction editor)

"The first time I received electroshock was three days after giving birth. Before that, I had just had a baby and because the doctors misunderstood me at the time of birth, they thought I needed to go to a psychiatric hospital."

She went on to detail her treatment in detail and the impact this had on her afterwards.

"My thoughts began to race, I wasn't able to sort of be the person I was, even at that time," she stated.

"Giving me all this drug treatment that was very bad for me and was changing my personality, I was misunderstood in the hospital as needing to go to a psychiatric hospital in the first place."

She went on to tell Jonathan: "It set you off to a very bad start and this was my early married life. I was a music teacher as well and I had learned a lot of music and was able to memorise it well because I had done a lot of practising. 

"A lot of that was just wiped out. How could I have been the music teacher I could have been?"

She stated that the treatment hasn't changed since the 1970s.

"My reaction is outrage and it's outrage that it's more woman than men. It's 2:1 women get it and are forced to have it and this is not just in Ireland. This is an international trend and the international trend is now that we know that electroshock goes on in the hospitals, people didn't even know that and they still don't know it.

"It's not fine to take your personality away."

You can listen to her story here:

Our voices they have meaning

You don't understand


Composed by Mary Maddock


Mary Maddock's story from survivor to thriver!




. "I can feel change happening in my bones, my gut, my heart... As our voices of truth and resistance grow louder and stronger, the foundations of the Psychiatric-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex are slowly starting to atrophy, bit by bit. There are generations of work ahead of us, but I know in the core of my being that there's a world beyond "mental illness" and "mental health", one where our understanding of suffering and madness has been demedicalized and repoliticized, and one where we come together in community to support one another, instead of relying on paid professionals and behavior modification and pill bottles and institutions.

I am mad in America (heck, I'm mad in the world!) Who's with me?"
I am Laura all the way!"   Laura Delano


I am doing a workshop again this year in UCC titled  ’Critical Perspectives on and Beyond the Therapy Industry’ thanks to critical thinking lecturers in the university. My workshop is titled’ Beyond Psychiatry - Beyond Experts - Beyond Therapy - Back to Ourselves’  It is not easy  to have views outside the box in any fixed system and the educational system is no exception.


 One of the first lecturers I got to know many years ago was Lydia Sapouna.  She is from Greece and  is lively and not afraid to show her emotions.  I initially met her in Tullamore in 2002 where I spoke  in public for the first time.  We got to know each other and we continue to work together ever since.  She  has  also helped many other survivors of psychiatric oppression find their voices. It was speaking out that helped me to value myself, find my true self and  each day continue to grow in confidence.  This would have been almost impossible if I did not get safely free from the drugs which, for decades, continued to alter my true self.  I later got to know more open minded lecturers like Harry Gijbels, Rick Deedy, Orla O’Donovan and Kathy Glavanis and each of them in their own way are turning the wheels of revolution at the University College Cork.


This year yet another lecturer called Karen McCarthy is doing a workshop on Thursday as part of the CVNI conference titled’ A Doing Therapy: Exploring Occupational Therapy as Another Way to Support People in Distress’  I know Karen for a few years having first met her when MindFreedom Ireland spoke as a group at the launch  of  Dylan Tighe’s outstanding play called  ‘Record’ 2011.  She supports our work and has invited our musical group  ‘A little help from my friends” to play and talk  to  her students each November ever since.  It is so good to witness how she is a lecturer with a difference and how the students love and respect Karen.  She is not afraid to be herself.  It is not surprising then that she does not advocate labelling people and putting them into boxes.   She is a breath of fresh air, an inspiration to other lecturers to let down their hair and trust themselves.   Maybe when we have more lecturers like Lydia and Karen the gates of academia will open  and students will be critical thinkers with loving hearts and a minds of their own!


Mary Maddock 9th November 2015


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