LOS ANGELES, CA: The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International’s latest documentary, “Therapy or Torture: The Truth about Electroshock” is a gripping exposé about a psychiatric “treatment” that most people think was banned as torture in 1976 when the film One Few over the Cuckoo’s Nest won multiple Academy Awards. Jack Nicholson’s character in Cuckoo’s Nest, Randle McMurphy, was punitively subjected to electroshock—the passage of a brain-damaging 460 volts of electricity searing through the brain. Today in the U.S., about 100,000 people still receive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), including children younger than five, the elderly aged over 90 and thousands against their will. With a $5.4 billion a year shock industry at stake, psychiatry doesn’t want ECT prohibited, despite over 108,000 people signing CCHR’s ongoing petition supporting a ban. Sign here.
So barbaric and damaging is the practice that on November 23, 2019 (at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. PST) the Scientology Network is airing “Therapy or Torture,” offering a voice to those harmed by shock treatment and their families.
CCHR, a 50-year mental health watchdog, says the powerful humanitarian documentary is vital not only for families but also for legislators who have the power to outlaw ECT. The film explores the shock industry’s consumer fraud and betrayal: telling patients electroshock is “safe and effective,” when there are no clinical trials proving this. Psychiatrists and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have also excluded brain damage as a documented adverse effect of ECT, despite one U.S. ECT device manufacturer that sells the device for about $20,000, recently admitting such damage can be permanent.
Patient testimony, legal depositions and health care and biomedical experts refute claims that electroshock “helps.” The documentary details how the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has labeled coercive ECT as “torture,” which governments should prohibit. A July 2018 UN Human Rights Council report on “Mental health and human rights” also called on governments to recognize that forced psychiatric treatment, including ECT, are “practices constituting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment….”
Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said psychiatrists falsely assert that ECT has “significantly improved” because the body no longer thrashes about with the use of anesthesia that relaxes the muscles during the violent grand mal seizure that ECT induces. She states: “They misleadingly claim that modern electrode placements can minimize the devastating memory loss that patients experience, while arrogantly admitting they don’t know how electricity ‘works’ and that it cannot cure.”
Eastgate wrote a series of articles for the group’s TruthAboutECT.org blog pointing out the long-term damage from ECT and the fact that two-thirds of those brutalized by it are women. She also appears in the documentary candidly talking about how, as a 22-year-old, she was electroshocked when a psychiatrist misdiagnosed her hypothyroidism as “depression,” drugged her, which exacerbated her condition, and then electroshocked her multiple times. “For me personally, it was like a grenade going off in the body, assaulting every nerve and cell. The damage is unquestionable and no amount of anesthetic, muscle relaxant or a skull to buffer the force changes that. For years afterwards, doctors and chiropractors, not knowing my history, would ask if I’d been in a car accident or suffered from head trauma and could date it to the time I’d had ECT.”
She said she was inspired to find CCHR that challenged the use of electroshock and obtained the first legislative protections against it, including its ban on children in several U.S. states. She has dedicated more than 40 years to helping CCHR, counting hundreds of patient safeguards the group has achieved. This includes getting an electroshock and drug practice called “Deep Sleep Treatment” banned—also covered in the documentary. Eastgate adds: “That practice killed 48 patients and a judge that presided over a government hearing into it determined that ECT given without proper consent—including misinformation about it or lack of information—was assault. The government stepped in and prohibited it and that precedent needs to be applied today to all ECT: ban it.”
“Therapy or Torture” is a compelling argument using facts, studies and patient stories to prove that newer methods of electroshock have not resulted in fewer adverse effects and that no one would “consent” to it if all information of its damage was made known, any more than they would consent to being tortured.
In 1969, CCHR was established by the Church of Scientology and renowned professor of psychiatry and author, Dr. Thomas Szasz, who stated: “And if some doctors harm—torture rather than treat, murder the soul rather than minister to the body—that is, in part, because society, through the state, ask them, and pays them, to do so.”
“The Scientology Network’s airing of ‘Therapy or Torture’ will make the truth about electroshock broadly accessible and help in the humanitarian endeavor to put an end to physically harmed methods being used in the name of mental health care,” Eastgate says.
Watch the documentary premiere on Nov. 23rd on DirecTV Channel 320 or online here.
 A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013, p. 21, para 85, www.ohchr.org/Docuemnts/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.53_English.pdf
 “Mental health and human rights: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development,” Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, Human Rights Council, 10-28 Sept. 2018, p. 14, point 46
Release ID: 88935222