Sunday, August 9, 2009

Abolish Electroshock

This is normally not a political blog- but the one thing i am outspoken on is Electroshock Therapy, or ECT. In a nutshell, it did a big number on me, and based on my experiences, and what i know now about it, i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Mary Maddock, of Mind Freedom International, has a petition to abolish electroshock. The petition is here. If this is something you believe in, please sign.

A piece I wrote earlier on ECT is here.


Anonymous said...

Susan, I'm sorry you had to go through ECT. I've never been through it myself, but I have been hospitalized with others who have received it, and they feel much like you do.

Have you heard of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)? It's a non-medication treatment for depression like ECT but without the side effects. It's definitely an alternative for people who have treatment resistant depression but are hesitant to try or retry ECT.

Wishing you the best,

Katharine said...

In my time in rehab I have met many people who've undergone electroshock. I've met about an equal number of people who consider it "the best treatment I ever underwent - a total god send" and "the worst thing that ever happened to me." If some people find it useful, why abolish it all together? I tend to think MFI's stance on electroshock is a little too extreme. I think there's a lot to be said for not forcing people into it, for educating people about the risks, etc. and reforming all the practices related to that, but banning it outright? What about my friends who suffered for years without relief and then ECT was their Godsend? What about them?

susan said...


I have always said, i have seen people get better from this. I have also seen people get worse, or have no effect. My own personal belief is this is horrible, so i am posting it, but my whole stance on this subject is please make an educated opinion , look at both the pros and cons- and then decide. Don't have it forced on you like it was on me. Thats what i am against. Forced ECT.

Like you state, i have a friend who says ECT was a god send and can deal with the memory loss. For me it was a disaster. We agree to disagree and stay very good friends.

susan said...

@Nos, I never heard of TMS, I will have to look at it.

D Bunker said...

Thank You for this post Susan.

ECT causes brain damage. And as you probably know it's Sold to people as being safe, and they are usually told it's a Small electric charge.

The machines output from between 225 Volts@.75 amps, to 450Volts@.90 amps.

.10 amps at those Voltages if applied through your chest can kill you.

ECT Cannot ever be voluntary without those disclosures.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I signed the petition, and send it to my fellow TDG admins.

One of them offered the same argument as Katharine. He proposed that for people for whom it is the last resort, to ban it outright would be unfair. We both had a tough discussion, but I respect his POV-

So I guess I stand on the premise that it should be done with the consent of the patient —although that leaves an ethical conundrum if said patient is not in full possession of its mental faculties—and only as the very last resort; while at the same time supporting research into alternative and less brutal therapis.

herb said...

Dear Susan,

I wanted to take a moment to comment about your blog entry.

I respectfully read your experiences and that of others as it relates to ECT whether favorable or not but I certainly don’t respect anyone’s advocacy to abolish ECT or for that matter any therapy that has benefited another and I especially oppose the effort of David Oaks’ and his Mind Freedom and I’ll quote him directly, “I’m pro-choice”. As stated he is factually incorrect. Oaks’ should have qualified that remark simply because he has advocated for the banning of ECT which would abrogate the right of any reasonably informed patient in collaboration with his/her trusted, caring, knowledgeable and licensed physician to make an un-coerced medical decision. So that would make David Oaks’ and his group only “pro-choice” for the choices he and his people would like others to have.

ECT certainly has its potential devastating side-effects as do many medications or therapies but it too has its place and has been used successfully for patients; my spouse included.

So for that matter why not consider abolishing the use of all medications, devices, treatments or therapies for mood disorders, cancer, heart, lung, liver and kidney as well as surgery so on and so forth that has caused someone serious side-effects. Having read through many blogs I’m inclined to believe if each individual advocating the banning of a particular medication or treatment had their way then society would be left with no therapies and we can regress several hundred years in treatment as well as in life expectancy and we can simply expire naturally to the likes of a few.

Well, no thank you. I personally find life to be precious and something worthwhile to strongly pursue especially when it relates to suicidal ideations going against the very laws of nature and self-preservation.

Maybe the problem lies in seeing things only from what I refer to as the illness of “self” and not being able to consider others.

And while on this subject maybe a better answer lies in education and research into newer alternative and/or adjunctive treatments and therapies as opposed to abolishing any therapy especially when we come to realize that for some long time sufferers the conventional therapies are simply ineffective.


susan said...

Dear Herb,

i do understand where you are coming from. My whole stand on ECT is to let the readers get the pro and con sides and make an informed decision. For every person I have met who has had a positive experience, there is one with a negative.

I just want people to make an informed decision, but for me ECT was the worst thing to ever happen to me. But I am glad to read your points, and respect you as always.

herb said...

Dear Susan,

I am very much in agreement with you as to the importance of educating the patient as well as his/her support persons. In doing so I think it also of utmost importance when reading one’s experiences to especially pay attention to any and all negative reported aspects to any treatment so as not deny or delude the individual of these potential side-effects.

What I strongly object to is the fear mongering and alarmism pervasively apparent in many blogs as it relates to “potential” side-effects of any therapy as well as the abrogation of one’s rights by Mind Freedom and others by calling for the banning of ECT or various other treatment options.

So on one hand Oaks (Mind Freedom) and others promote and advocate for individual rights and on the other hand they have no second thoughts as to denying one’s right(s) to choose his/her therapy.

Unlike Oaks I am not selectively pro-choice.

I on the other hand in years past, as an example, simply shared Joyce’s devastating experiences with Lamotrigine. I did not advocate for banning the drug but objectively as possible shared her/our experiences. Unlike others suffering from what I refer to as “self” was well aware the drug has also benefited others and therein lies but one of a number of major differences in my thinking as well as positive proactive mental health advocacy and activism.

My friendships are enduring as well as very long lasting and are an aside from differences which I may have in my opinions and viewpoints on this and other matters while I respectfully disagree on the issue of abolishing ECT.


herb said...

Dear Susan,

While on the subject of ECT maybe some of your readership might have some interest in perusing some recent medical information relating to this treatment option:

ECT Information


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