Electroshock Treatment & Brain Damage

“All ECT (electric shock) does is produce brain damage. …If you want brain damage, it’s your prerogative… there’s no more effective way than ECT. It’s more effective than a car wreck, or getting hit with a blunt instrument.1.
– Dr. John Friedberg, Neurologist

Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.”2. – Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize-winning author who killed himself after complaining that psychiatric electric shocks had ruined his career by destroying his memory.

ECT is one of a number of drastic psychiatric treatments, including insulin coma and psychosurgery, that relieve suffering temporarily. All of them “work” by destroying brain tissue. That is their common denominator.”
– Committee for Truth in Psychiatry

The History of ECT

The story of electric shock* began in 1938, when Italian psychiatrist Ugo Cerletti visited a Rome slaughterhouse to see what could be learned from the method that was employed to butcher hogs. In Cerletti’s own words, “As soon as the hogs were clamped by the [electric] tongs, they fell unconscious, stiffened, then after a few seconds they were shaken by convulsions…. During this period of unconsciousness (epileptic coma), the butcher stabbed and bled the animals without difficulty….

“At this point I felt we could venture to experiment on man, and I instructed my assistants to be on the alert for the selection of a suitable subject.”

Cerletti’s first victim was provided by the local police – a man described by Cerletti as “lucid and well-oriented.” After surviving the first blast without losing consciousness, the victim overheard Cerletti discussing a second application with a higher voltage. He begged Cerletti, “Non una seconda! Mortifierel” (“Not another one! It will kill me!”)

Ignoring the objections of his assistants, Cerletti increased the voltage and duration and fired again. With the “successful” electrically induced convulsion of his victim, Ugo Cerletti brought about the application of hog-slaughtering skills to humans, creating one of the most brutal techniques of psychiatry.

*Electric shock is also called electro-convulsive “therapy” or treatment (ECT), electroshock therapy or electric shock treatment (EST), electrostimulation, and electrolytic therapy (ELT). All are euphemistic terms for the same process: sending a searing blast of electricity through the brain in order to alter behavior. Read the electrical details of exactly how it is done.

Current Usage

Many people think that shock treatment is no longer used. This is not so. ECT has been experiencing a resurgence within the psychiatric community, especially as a way to keep elderly folks quiet and manageable in nursing homes.

In his detailed and extensive article, Electroshock: Scientific, Ethical, and Political Issues, Peter Breggin states:

Contemporary ECT is more dangerous since the current doses are larger than those employed in earlier clinical and research studies. Elderly women, an especially vulnerable group, are becoming the most common target of ECT. Because of the lopsided risk/benefit ratio, because it is fundamentally traumatic in nature, because so many of the patients are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, and because advocates of ECT fail to provide informed consent to patients – ECT should be banned.

An elderly person’s physical strength is already decreased without the added harm and incredible stress put on them by running high voltage current through their skulls. It is also becoming more common as a “solution” to handle depression with children.

“Drugs do… quiet them down. So does a lead pipe to the head”.4.
-Dr. Jerome Avron Associate Professor of Social Medicine at Harvard University


Electrical Force – Not Good For Living Things

A baseball bat strike to the head will cause a person to alter their behavior and become controllable. Repeated hits will quickly render them docile and easy to manage. This is not an invalid or simplistic analogy. ECT involves tremendous force applied to the body, brain and mind via strong electrical current. On a certain level bio-chemical processes are basically electrical. Nerve functioning is electrical in nature. ECT disrupts and confuses the electrical activity of the body and especially the brain (and associated mind). Research into “bio-electrical” energy fields around living organisms indicates energy patterns and flows around the body and organs which are not yet understood. Strong electrical jolts of ECT most likely have negative and harmful effects to these energy fields, the purpose of which modern science barely understands.

No psychiatrist could ever even start to guess at how ECT “works” and gets it’s “results”. This is also equally true for the effects of psychiatric drugs. There are various “theories”, but these are the result of wishful thinking, guessing and contrived scientific presentations.

ECT IS NOT SAFE or EFFECTIVE, and no amount of misinformation, PR, contrived studies, belief by practitioners (delusion) or ignorance will make them otherwise.

Mental Health Patients Rights

Although CCHR does not condone or promote any specific practitioner, medical organization, practice or group, we have found the below resources to be helpful for individuals looking for more information on the subject of patients rights in relation to ECT and alternative treatments:

International Campaign to Ban Electroshock (ICBE) — Founded in 2007 by ECT survivor Sue Clark-Wittenberg, ICBE deems ECT to be barbaric, unethical, inhumane, and torture.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) — Their mission is to help end the drugging of California nursing home residents. The goal of their campaign is to stop nursing homes and doctors from misusing dangerous antipsychotic drugs and other types of psychoactive drugs to chemically restrain residents and to replace drugging with individualized care.

MindFreedom International — is a nonprofit organization that works to win human rights and provide alternatives for people labeled with psychiatric disabilities.