The Brutal Truth About Electroconvulsive Therapy

by Bruce Boyers

A recent article by Dr. Gary Kohls, a former natural mental health physician, details the brutal facts and figures of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)—leading anyone to wonder why it was ever practiced at all, let alone why it is still being practiced today.electroshock

ECT is usually administered when every psychiatric drug avenue has been worn out. According to the author, “ECT is usually only recommended when every imaginable, potentially brain-damaging psychiatric drug cocktail of neurotoxic or psychotoxic psychiatric drug has been tried and failed (or actually made the patient worse).” He points out that psychiatrists can become rich if they have enough over-medicated patients at their wits’ end.

According to the article, ECT usually affects both short and long-term memory, often permanently destroying it. Any perceived temporary “improvement” comes about simply because the patient can no longer recall traumatizing events.

Dr. Kohls’ article includes excerpts from another piece written by Leonard Roy Franks, an ECT survivor, in 2001. Franks’ article goes into great detail as to the actual practice of ECT, with such facts as:

  • ECT involves the administration of anesthetic and muscle-relaxant drugs prior to applying 100 to 400 volts of electricity for .05 to 4 seconds to the brain, thereby triggering a grand-mal convulsion lasting from 30 to 60 seconds.
  • The group most commonly administered ECT are those diagnosed with depression. For this group an ECT series usually consists of 6 to 12 individual electroshocks, administered three times a week on an inpatient basis. For people diagnosed with manic depression (now more commonly known as “bipolar disorder”), a series may consist of as many as 20 seizures usually administered at the same rate but sometimes given daily. For people diagnosed with schizophrenia, as many as 35 electroshocks may be administered in a single series.
  • ECT effects include fear, confusion, disorientation, amnesia, apathy (“emotional blunting”), dizziness, headache, mental dullness, nausea, muscle ache, physical weakness, and delirium. Most of these effects subside after a few hours, but amnesia, apathy, learning difficulties, and loss of creativity, drive, and energy may last for weeks or months, or even permanently.

In his article Franks made this conclusion: “Over the last thirty-five years I have researched the various shock procedures, particularly ECT, have spoken with hundreds of ECT survivors, and have corresponded with many others. From these sources and my own experience as someone who underwent ECT in combination with insulin comas (in 1963), I have concluded that ECT is a brutal, dehumanizing, memory-destroying, intelligence-lowering, brain-damaging, brainwashing, life-threatening technique. ECT robs people of their memories, their personality and their humanity. It reduces their capacity to lead full, meaningful lives; it crushes their spirits. Put simply, electroshock is a method for gutting the brain in order to control and/or punish people who fall or step out of line, and intimidate others who are on the verge of doing so.”

Since 1969, Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights has been exposing such brutal crimes of psychiatry.

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