CCHR Exhibit, “Electroshock: Therapy or Torture?”, Held in Tallahassee Rotunda

Those touring the exhibit learned about the dangers of electroconvulsive therapy and many signed a petition asking lawmakers to ban this brutal practice.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a watchdog organization that investigates and exposes abuses in the mental health industry, held a two-day exhibit on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock, in the Florida Capitol last week. Horrified to learn that from 2015-2020, ECT has been administered to children in Florida with some of them being in the 0-5 age group, CCHR is calling for a ban on the use of the ECT device.


Calling the continued use of ECT one of the worst abuses in mental health today, CCHR notes that ECT is also now being used to purposefully alter and destroy memories. “The use of ECT, particularly on the vulnerable, including children, pregnant women and the elderly is barbaric,” stated the President for the Florida chapter of CCHR, Diane Stein.


Held in Tallahassee, the exhibit provided facts on the dangers of ECT and free copies of a documentary entitled “Therapy or Torture? The Truth about Electroshock”. The documentary, produced by CCHR International, exposes the inhumane practice and its damaging effects, including cognitive and memory dysfunction, neuropathological changes, brain damage and death. [2,3]


Visitors to the exhibit were educated on how ECT sends up to 460 volts of electricity through the brain in order to induce a grand mal seizure, a type of seizure that involves a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, masked by an anesthetic. Many visitors were surprised to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never required clinical studies that prove electroshock is either safe or effective, despite being used for more than 80 years. Visitors also learned that while psychiatrists claim modern is less brutal than it used to be (as accurately portrayed in the Academy-Award-winning film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) when patients use to break bones from the violent convulsions it produced, the voltage and amperage in today’s ECT is actually higher. The muscle relaxants now administered just make it appear less brutal. Additionally, the side effects of the most commonly used muscle relaxant for ECT include: cardiac arrest, prolonged respiratory muscle paralysis and potentially life-threatening and/or fatal allergic reactions. [4,5,6,7]


According to Dr. Norman Shealy, Neurosurgeon, “One fact about ECT: It damages the brain. Period… ECT should have been banned 50 years ago.”


CCHR is very much in agreement with this viewpoint and is calling for a ban on the use of the ECT device not just in Florida but across the country. Individuals are encouraged to report instances of damage and death as a result of ECT and to sign the petition to ban ECT in Florida and nationally.


About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, first brought psychiatric imprisonment to wide public notice: “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health,’” he wrote in March 1969.


[1] Ethics and Religion Talk: Is It Ethical to Erase Memories Using Electroconvulsive Therapy? therapidian.org/ethics-and-religion-talk-it-ethical-erase-memories-using-electroconvulsive-therapy


[2] “Electric shock in pregnancy: a review,” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Vol. 29, 2014, Issue 2, tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14767058.2014.1000295?journalCode=ijmf20.


[3] cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/memory-and-cognitive-effects-of-ect-informing-and-assessing-patients/DD5C63934357779765BA7ADF308275AE


[4] Jonathan Emord & Associates, Citizens Petition filed with the FDA Commissioner, 14 Aug. 2016, pp. 14, 27 and 42, emord.com/blawg/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1-ECT-Citizen-Petition.pdf. 4) “An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas, 1993-1998,” 1 Aug 2001, ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.52.8.1095


[5] Op. cit., John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped”; John Breeding, Ph.D., “Chapter 9: Electroshock,” wildestcolts.com/psych_opp/d-electroshock/1-shock.html


[6] Nancy Kerner and Joan Prudic, “Current electroconvulsive therapy practice and research in the geriatric population,” Neuropsychiatry (London), Feb 2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000084/


[7] Anectine® (Succinylcholine Chloride Injection, USP) Label, FDA.gov, accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/008453s027lbl.pdf

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