A protest against the psychiatric practice of electroshock held in Cork on Saturday heard calls for the total abolition of the procedure.
The Cork protest was part of a simultaneous 30 city international campaign.
Public testimonies were given by a number of recipients of the procedure who all spoke of the trauma, brain damage and enduring memory loss they experienced.
Latest figures from The Mental Health Commission reveal that 244 people were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012 with twice as many women than men being recipients.
The practice involves shocking the brain with an electric current to deliberately induce a seizure or grand mal convulsion.
It is an extremely controversial procedure with proponents claiming it is an essential treatment for people who do not respond to other methods.  Opponents say it is outdated and dehumanising and call for its total abolition and for more effective alternatives  to be made available.
The recently published Report of the Expert Group set up to review the 2001 Mental Health Act has opted to retain the practice but has recommended it should not be forced on people against their will while, at the same time, agreeing with proposed legislation under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill that will still enable electroshock to be administered as “a life-saving treatment .. or where the patient’s condition is otherwise treatment resistant”.
The protest was organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a human rights survivor activist group opposed to forced treatment and was their 7th such event since their inaugural protest in 2007.
Jim Maddock,
MindFreedom Ireland.
086 0624445
021 4894303

MindFreedom Ireland do not consider that' ECT' can be therapy as it causes brain damage and therefore it should be abolished.

Doctors should not use brain damage as a 'treatment'. It shows how deprived our 'mental health' services are when electroshock is still offered to people in severe emotional distress.

It should never be prescribed for any citizen against their will. No 'mental health' laws should allow anyone to be coerced to receive brain damaging electroshock at any time. The long, sad history of electroshock, including modified electroshock has caused more harm than good.

Therefore the Irish government should protect all its citizens and put an end to electroshock. Not to have put an end to electroshock without informed consent is outrageous.

" Yet another treatment procedure comparable in repulsiveness was the use of electric shock so as to alter an individual's vision of his unhappy life. To the end of my days in psychiatry I could not accept that an electric shock would transform the parent mourning for a dead child, or the spouse for a lost partner, from being deeply depressed to being the classic 'happy man'. To me it was wholly reminiscent of the many futile, sometimes dangerous, procedures used in desperation by us in the 1930s to safe the life of the dying consumptive.........My job as house physician was to provide a completely purposeless ritual presence. I would stand at the head of the patient as he was anaesthetised and then apply an electric terminal at each side of the patient's skull........A series of standard shocks was then applied through the terminals.....Later, as a consultant psychiatrist, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would I submit a patient to the procedure. What is more I found that they had NO NEED OF IT. The unexplained rational of the procedure was much too reminiscent of the use of cupping, blood-letting and the application of leeches." Dr Noel Browne, Irish Psychiatrist, author of 'Against The Tide'





A public protest meeting against the psychiatric practice of electroshock, also known as ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ (ECT) will be held at 2pm on Saturday May 10th outside The Peace Park on Grand Parade in Cork city.


It will be the 6th such protest organised by MindFreedom Ireland which campaigns against the abuse of human rights in the field of psychiatry. A number of recipients of electroshock will address the meeting.


Electroshock involves the passing of an electric current of up to 400 volts through the brains of people who are depressed, deliberately inducing a convulsion or grand-mal seizure.  Though administered under general anaesthetic and muscle relaxing drugs, the recipient can still display intense facial grimacing and twitching limbs.


Proponents of the practice claim it can help people who are severely depressed though they cannot say exactly how.  Opponents point to the brain damage and particularly the memory loss that follows and say that 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’.


The most recent figures from The Mental Health Commission show 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.


As is the case world-wide, twice as many women than men were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012, the oldest being a woman of 92.


Also under the Mental Health Act, the consultant psychiatrists are not obliged to honour the person’s wishes if these are written in an Advance Directive.  There is no legal comeback for anyone feeling they have been harmed or for a next-of-kin to intervene if they feel the ‘treatment’ is wrong.


Founder of MindFreedom Ireland Mary Maddock said “Electroshock is a barbaric assault on the individual.  As a young mother after the birth of my daughter, I was subjected to 16 sessions of it and suffered permanent memory loss as a result.  I have spoken to many others both in Ireland and abroad and all have received permanent brain damage.  MindFreedom Ireland is calling for the total abolition of electroshock.”


A 2007 study by Dr. Harold Sackeim of Columbia University, New York – a lifelong defender and promoter of electroshock – confirmed that it causes permanent brain damage and dysfunction thus validating those who reported permanent adverse effects said Linda Andre, Head of the American Committee for Truth in Psychiatry.


“It seems odd to have one branch of medicine working on better ways to prevent and treat seizures while another is intentionally causing them” said Dr. John Read, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool who added “I am convinced that in 10 or 15 years we will have put ECT in the same rubbish bin of historical treatments as lobotomies and surprise baths that have been discarded over time.”


New York psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin says “Psychiatry is the only place where you damage the brain and call it a cure.”




Jim Maddock,

MindFreedom Ireland.

1st May, 2014.


Phone: 021 4894303.  Mobile: 086 0624445.