The ongoing traumatic abuse of psychiatric shock treatment

Munchausen by proxy is a criminal offense, unless you’re a psychiatrist:

shock treatment -> brain damage -> trauma -> depression -> shock treatment

Picture a dark and stormy night, an elderly woman down in a puddle, convulsing. Next to her head, we see a live power-line, still sparking. Entry/exit points on the victim’s temples are evidenced by faint first degree burn marks.

You’re the doctor.

What do you do? Apply the end of the power cord to her temples again?


You give life support, insert an IV, maybe administer an anti-convulsant.

You bring her to the Emergency Room where a brain scan is performed. Later an EEG will be done to see if there is slowing or residual seizure activity. She is closely watched. Confusion is to be expected, the only question is how much and for how long.

Recurrent seizures – called epilepsy -are something neurologists are supposed to do their best to prevent.Yet many psychiatrists are systematically programming entire series of convulsions.

It isn’t that easy to kindle a human brain into convulsing. The brain’s natural resistance to seizing must be overcome with a threshold amount of energy.

The minimum, or threshold amount of energy, – 20 Joules (more for the elderly) necessary to trigger a convulsion is damaging, typically producing an organic brain syndrome usually limited to amnesia and apathy (or in 10 per cent, euphoria) but there have been numerous documented instances of acute cerebral hemorrhages (see illus. and ref. below) and infarcts, ongoing cognitive problems, even spontaneous epileptic seizures both acute and chronic.

Leeching was rationalized on the basis of Medieval notions of humors and very similarly ECT is rationalized on the basis of myths of mental illness. There can be no such THING as a mental illness although as a label it’s equivalent to hanging a sign around a person’s neck: “garbage.”

I don’t care what they say: the mental health business is the stigmatization business and nothing more or less. It’s hardest to see the air we breathe. If you think you have an open mind, test it by reading something by Thomas S. Szasz, M.D.  [Or read  -rw ]

Consider the possibility that there are no such things as “bipolar disorder” and “schizophrenia,” except in the imagination of psychiatrists. Consider the possiblity that these words don’t stand for diseases “just like diabetes,” that they have no concrete referents.

The brain can have disease and it can be proven by testing. The mind cannot have a disease in anything but a metaphorical sense. “Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, inadequate personality” and all the other nonsense syllables in the psychiatric lexicon exist only in the minds of believers. They’ve never turned up on a brain scan or a blood test and they lead to equally imaginary “treatments.”

Electroconvulsive shock is the “auto da fe” of such psychiatric “treatments.” It is no less harmful in 1996 than it was when Cerletti and Bini invented it in Rome in 1938.

“There’s lies, damn lies and statistics.” -Mark Twain-

The Cerletti-Bini sine-wave voltage regulated straight-from-the-wall machine put out 70 Joules while today’s machines are quite capable of administering 150! A Joule is a common measure of energy allowing for comparison of energy in its various forms e.g. heat, electrical, mechanical etc. One Joule =.7373 foot pounds so that 150 Joules might be expressed as a 110 lb weight (.7373X150) falling one foot – on your head.

(reference – among others – Cameron, Douglas. in ECT: Sham Statistics, the Myth of Convulsive Therapy and the Case for Consumer Misinformation published in the Winter/Spring 94/95 Journal of Mind and Behavior, (V 15 p 177).

Doug was on Hard Copy this past February 26. He and Diann’a Loper were instrumental in getting the Texas law in place protecting children from ECT.

See also: Horror Stories From the Mental Health System: Electroconvulsive Therapy: 200 First person Accounts of Permanent Memory Loss – Edited by Cameron.


These THALAMIC HEMORRHAGES were found at autopsy carried out one hour after the death of a previously healthy 57 year old man who received 5 electroshocks (120 Volts, .2 seconds) in October 1949…..”but soon afterwards his mental state deteriorated again, and it was decided to give him another series…”

(after the second shock on November 6) “The patient awoke as usual, and went home. Contrary to his former behavior he kept to his bed this time and fell slowly into a condition of unrelieved drowsiness….Two days later he began to vomit spontaneously …”

He lapsed into a deep coma and died on November 12, six days after his last (the 7th total) shock.

The authors (Liban E, Halpern L, Rozanski J:Vascular changes in the brain in a fatality following electroshock. J Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 1951 V 10 pp 309-318) comment:

“The clinical picture and its obvious development in connection with electroshock treatment indicated a subarachnoid hemorrhage.”

The massive bleeding illustrated above is probably* rare, but some breakdown of the BBB occurs with each and every shock.

Reporting deaths from ECT is rarely done voluntarily. Texas now requires such reports and according to the Houston Chronicle for Tuesday, March 7, 1995: “Eight people died in Texas within two weeks of receiving electroshock therapy….”

These eight deaths among 1600 “recipients” yields a death rate of 1/200, far higher than accounted for by anesthesia alone (3/100,000 x number of “treatments”), but EXACTLY the same statistic found in Impastato’s 1958 review.

Electricity follows the shortest course (fronto-temporal lobes and diencephalon including the thalamus) and the least resistant course (blood vessels, not insulated axons). It induces spasm in the vessel walls, a pressure spike consistently over 200 systolic, and subsequent lactic acid buildup. The blood vessel walls become fatigued, swollen and leaky. This is known as a breakdown of the blood brain barrier (BBB) and it isn’t good for the brain.

MRI scans in 14 patients showed edema peaking 4-6 hours after each and every shock “consistent with an extensive but temporary breakdown of the blood-brain barrier during ECT.” I found Mander’s paper (British Journal of Psychiatry, 987: V 151, pp 69-71) cited in the 1990 FDA proposal to reclassify ECT as justifying it’s safety!

ECT is being used with increasing frequency on the elderly who have a hard time getting respect for anything least of all their minds. And it is actually being promoted as an instrument for screening memory drugs.

ECT is an excellent laboratory paradigm or model for both epilepsy and amnesia. For many years pharmaceutical researchers with drug companies have been using ECT on animals (they sometimes call it ECS, Electroconvulsive Shock, same thing) as an effective screen for anticonvulsants. DILANTIN was discovered by Putnam and Merrit in this way in 1938.

Now with demographics driving, the race is on for memory enhancing drugs and ECT is being used to screen for them.Rats are taught to jump before their floor grid is zapped by learning a signal (a light or buzzer etc – this is called conditioned avoidance.)

Then the experimental animals are given electroshock and a predictable percentage actually forget to jump. Then they are given test drugs, shock and the grid again to see if they do any better. This is OK with me. If a smart drug or a neuroprotective drug really turns up, the Nobel Prize is in order.

The troublesome thing is that the National Institute of Mental Health has awarded MANY millions of taxpayer dollars in grants to Harold (“Are ECT Devices Underpowered?”) Sackeim, Ph.D. (refer to his deposition in Rohovit v. Mecta et al – (Mecta settled) in the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Law No. 54289 ).

Dr. Sackheim is the Director of the public facility, the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Most of the awards are for unspecified work with ECT induced amnesia – probably in humans. The foundation has been well laid: see almost anything recent by Harold Sackeim Ph.D. or check Laura Frochtman, M.D.: Animal studies of ECT: foundation for future research in Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 1994. V30 No 3 pp 321-444)

CLASSIC 1938 ANIMAL EXPERIMENT By ECT Pioneer – “I was there” – Lothar Kalinowsky for those with Netscape 2.0 or better


You really need to see this animation with its granular old time feel and old world charm of a Hitler home movie. This appears to have been the sum total of pre-market trials for the ECT machine. At least on rabbits. They also did a lamb. And coming soon: kittens.

Thesis-antithesis – we may be seeing a backlash to the orchestrated promotion of ECT over the past decade if USA TODAY is any indication of mainstream sentiment. Their excellent series and Editorial the week of December 4-8, 1995 was a terrific exposé.

The effect of a course of ECT on the EEG is dramatic with slow waves persisting up to 6 months afterward.

Anyone reading this probably has a surge protector on their computer. ECT is a power surge 10,000X the brain’s background energy. Convinced?

If you would like to get in touch with those who are working to end the BIGGEST BOGUS TREATMENT OF ALL TIME contact David Oaks or check his website.

*The career path for critics of ECT is usually short which partially explains why autopsy reports on ECT deaths all but disappeared after 1955. Certainly, the deaths continued.

This CT scan (left) and MRI (right) of a VERY LARGE BLOOD CLOT from ECT can be found in: Weisberg, L. Elliott, D and Mielke, D: Intracerebral hemorrhage following electroconvulsive therapy. November 1991, Neurology V 41 p 1849…..

Dr Bonnie Burstow on ECT as violence against women


Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits

Here’s a recipe for “mental health”.  Take traumatized, abused and depressed people and erase or diminish their emotional connections to all their loved ones by wrecking their ability to recall emotionally charged past events, or even destroying their knowledge of a loved one.   Parents forgetting who their own kids are, or even having kids at all.  Wreck their entire social support network.  Leave them naked and alone.   Recurring revenue for psychiatry.

One would have to be a psychopath to do this to vulnerable and trusting people.   No problem.

Medical Psychopath School: Diary of a 3rd Year Medical Student

Of course there are exceptions.  Sometimes brain injury has no obvious manifestation, sometimes it leads to rewiring that improves some aspect of the person’s life.   These are the success stories that you always hear about, never the testimonials of self-described psychiatric survivors such as mindfreedom: .  There is no way to predict the outcome of ECT.   Information storage and cognitive patterns in the brain are probably more unique than fingerprints.

Quite obviously this blunt instrument is evidence of profound ignorance, arrogance and (all too often) conflicts of interest.

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