Ban ECT and Restore Human Rights to the Field of Mental Health

Citizens Commission on Human Rights demands that the APA cease advocating forced electroshock and other coercive practices

Hundreds protested outside the American Psychiatric Association (APA) convention in San Francisco over the APA’s ongoing support for the electroshocking of 100,000 Americans each year, most of them women. The protest was organized by Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health industry watchdog that helped get electroshock treatment, also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), banned from use on children under 12 in California. CCHR, however, says the practice of inducing a seizure, by sending hundreds of volts of electricity through the brain, is so draconian and torturous it should be universally banned.

In September 2018, members of the United Nations Human Rights Council called for “all mental health care and services” to be “based on the free and informed consent of the individual concerned” and recognized ECT, among other practices, as “constituting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and as amounting to discrimination against users of mental health services, persons with mental health conditions and persons with psychosocial disabilities.”

In 2013, Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, included forced electroshock in calling for an “absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities.”

A retrospective review of the clinical trials published in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry found no evidence that ECT is effective at improving depression symptoms—but it did find a high risk of permanent memory loss.

Jim Van Hill, Executive Director CCHR Sacramento, delivered an open letter to the outgoing president and the president-elect of the APA, calling for a ban on ECT.

“CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS denounces the hypocrisy of the APA claiming it is ‘charting the future of mental health’ when it continues to advocate coercive practices, such as forced electroshock treatment (ECT)—which is an assault on 100,000 Americans, including 5-year-olds, every year,” Van Hill wrote.

CCHR’s traveling exhibit, “Psychiatry, an Industry of Death,” is currently across the street from the Moscone Convention Center. CCHR welcomes all concerned citizens to tour the history of psychiatry, and to join its efforts in informing and uniting those who want to restore basic human rights to the field of mental health.

Citizens Commission on Human Rights was cofounded in 1969 by professor of psychiatry Dr. Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology. With headquarters in Los Angeles, CCHR International guides a global human rights advocacy network of some 180 chapters across more than 30 nations. CCHR Commissioners include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, legislators, government officials, educators and civil rights representatives.

CCHR Sacramento and Jim Van Hill are featured in an episode of Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network. 

Available on DIRECTV Channel 320, DIRECTV STREAM, and AT&T U-verse, the Scientology Network can also be streamed at, on mobile apps and via the Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV platforms. Satisfying the curiosity of people about Scientology and Founder L. Ron Hubbard since it launched with a special episode featuring Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige, Scientology Network has been viewed in 240 countries and territories worldwide in 17 languages.

The Scientology Network premiered its new season Monday, April 10

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.

Church of Scientology Media Relations
(323) 960-3500 phone
(323) 960-3508 fax