Electroshock treatment—also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)—and psychosurgery “treatments” are reportedly trying to stage a comeback. Yet, since their inception, these procedures have been dogged by conflict between the ECT psychiatrists who swear by them, and the multitudes of victims and families of victims whose lives have been completely ruined by them.
So who is telling the truth? Anyone who has seen and been sickened by a recording of an actual ECT or psychosurgery procedure knows the answer too well. They have all the marks of physical torture methods that might instead belong in the armory of a KGB (secret police of the former Soviet Union) interrogator, rather than in the inventory of a “medical practitioner.” However, very few people have seen such recordings, including, it would seem, those who legislate their mandatory use—and fewer still have witnessed them firsthand.
Psychiatrists deceptively cloak these procedures with medical legitimacy: the hospital setting, white-coated assistants, anesthetics, muscle paralyzing drugs and sophisticated-looking equipment. The effects of shock treatment are horrific, but the full ramifications are not explained to the patients or families. Worse, when objections are raised, they are overruled.
That those procedures are extremely profitable to psychiatrists and hospitals, while resulting in continued long and expensive psychiatric “care” afterward, guaranteeing future business and income to the psychiatrist, is not mentioned in conversations to convince the unwilling or unsuspecting.
And, as Maria Garcia [not her real name] would attest, if all else fails, psychiatrists will readily resort to coercion or fear to extract “consent” for treatment.
Maria, a middle-aged Hispanic housewife, consulted a psychiatrist after feelings of depression persisted and was prescribed psychiatric drugs. After experiencing uncontrollable body movements—the direct result of drug-induced damage to her nervous system—the psychiatrist recommended ECT. She refused, but when later admitted to the hospital for drug detoxification treatment, ECT was recommended again. Although she resisted, the psychiatrist told her, “Your fears are nothing but Cuban superstitions” and “unless you have these treatments you are going to die.” She was given five shock treatments.
Her husband relates what happened: “As a result of the ECT treatments…my wife’s memory has been greatly impaired….Although she spoke English as a second language for fourty-two years, she has lost most of her ability to speak and understand it….The whole experience has been a deception, a lie, a bully’s punch….Her depression was not cured and her memory is quite defective now…we are both enraged at what has taken place. I feel as if she had been raped right in front of my eyes.”
With literally billions in profits realized from ECT and psychosurgery, there is an appalling level of misinformation about them today, most of it spread by psychiatrists. There are many scientists critical of the procedure.
Dr. John Friedberg, a neurologist who researched the effects of ECT for over thirty years, stated, “It is very hard to put into words just what shock treatment does to people generally.…it destroys people’s ambition, and…their vitality. It makes people rather passive and apathetic.…Besides the amnesia, the apathy and the lack of energy is, in my view, the reason that…[psychiatrists] still get away with giving it.”
Mary Lou Zimmerman understands about losing her ambition and her vitality at the hands of a psychiatrist. In June 2002, a jury ordered the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to pay $7.5 million (€6 million) to the 62-year-old following a horrific psychosurgery operation. Mrs. Zimmerman had sought treatment for compulsive hand washing after she read glowing reports about the procedure on the clinic’s website. The reality was a nightmare. She was subjected to an operation in which four holes were drilled into her head and sections of her brain, each approximately the size of a marble, were removed. After the ordeal, she found she was unable to walk, stand, eat or use the bathroom by herself. Her attorney, Robert Linton, stated, “She lost everything—except her awareness of how she’s now different.…She is completely disabled and needs full-time care.”
Today, the psychiatric industry in the United States alone takes an estimated $5 billion (€4 billion) from ECT per year. In the US, 65-year-olds receive three hundred and sixty percent more electroshock than 64-year-olds, since Medicare (government health insurance) takes effect at age 65, evidence that the use of ECT is guided, not by medical compassion, but by profit and greed. Although psychosurgery is less common today, up to three hundred operations are still performed every year in the United States, including the notorious prefrontal lobotomy.
In spite of their sophisticated trappings of science, the brutality of ECT and psychosurgery verifies that psychiatry has not advanced beyond the cruelty and barbarism of its earliest treatments. This report has been written to help ensure that just as whipping, leeching and flogging are now unlawful, these “treatments” should be prohibited or prosecuted for the criminal assault they are.
President, Citizens Commission
on Human Rights International