End the Use of ECT Now Demand Irate CCHR Protestors
ECT is torture, claims the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and psychiatry is inflicting this on 100,000 Americans each year, including veterans, the elderly, pregnant women and children five years old and younger.
Hundreds marched through the streets of San Francisco on Saturday, May 18, to let the American Psychiatric Association (APA), gathered at the Moscone convention center for their annual meeting, to demand the end of electroshock. The barbaric practice passes up to 460 volts of electricity through the brain, causing a grand mal seizure that can result in permanent memory loss and brain damage. “Electroshock is torture, not therapy” read the placards they carried.
CCHR spokesperson Rev. Frederick Shaw led the protest. A former Los Angeles CountySheriff's Deputy and who serves as Executive Director of the Inglewood-South Bay branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Shaw is incensed that pregnant women, children and the elderly are being electroshocked. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never demanded shock device manufacturers provide clinical studies to prove the device is safe and effective, he said. They are still on the market despite one of the manufacturers conceding last year that ECT can cause permanent brain damage.
To drive the facts home, CCHR brought its traveling exhibit, Psychiatry an Industry of Death, to San Francisco to educate those attending the convention about the history of psychiatry and its human rights abuses.
Opening the exhibit, Shaw spoke of the 20178 national NAACP Resolution condemning the use of ECT, particularly on u children, adolescents and young adults. Jan Eastgate, President of CCHR International, spoke of how CCHR helped obtain the precedent California law in 1976 that bans electroshock treatment on children and adolescents. “This ban needs to be expanded to all age groups and worldwide,” Eastgate said, “because electroshock causes harm, electroshock creates brain damage and electroshock ruins lives. CCHR has been documenting this for 50 years. We are the voice of patients and families who want to see an end to physically damaging practices in the field of mental health.”
Other speakers included James Sweeney, Political Liaison for the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC) and Founder and Managing General Partner of Sweeney and Associates, an advocacy and consulting firm. He supports a ban on ECT and spoke about the history of racism.
Psychiatry’s blatant abuser of human rights through the use of ECT includes these facts:
- Pregnant women, even in their third trimester, are electroshocked despite adverse events that include miscarriage, premature labor, stillbirth, fetal heart problems and malformations.
- Women are 2-3 times more likely than men to receive ECT. Approximately 70% of shock survivors are women and 45-50% are over 60 years old, with 10-15% being 80 years and older.
- Hundreds of U.S. veterans are given electroshock every year, according to Veteran Administration statistics.
- ECT adverse effects include cardiovascular complications, stroke, cognitive and memory impairment, prolonged seizures; worsening of psychiatric symptoms and death.
- A July 2018 United Nations Human Rights Council report on "Mental health and human rights," called on governments to recognize that forced psychiatric treatment, including ECT, are "practices constituting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment….
- A February 16, 2013, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment report defined procedures such as electroshock without the consent of the patient as a form of torture.
- Australian psychiatrist, Niall McLaren wrote that any psychiatrist who says, "'You need ECT' is really only saying, 'I don't know what else to do.' I will repeat: No psychiatrist needs to use ECT."
CCHR is a mental health watchdog group established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late professor of psychiatry, Dr. Thomas Szasz from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. CCHR has been instrumental in obtaining informed consent rights for patients and a prohibition of ECT on children and adolescents in California, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and in Western Australia—the latter enforcing criminal penalties, including jail, if electroshock is administered to anyone younger than 14. As a nonprofit, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission and actions to curb psychotropic drug use in foster care. Click here to support the cause.
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