Former Mental Patients Suing Hospitals Over Electroshock

I was surprised to come across this tidbit of information today. It’s from an article in Stuff, a New Zealand rag, Shock treatment ‘needed’.

The retired Timaru woman has every reason to have an opinion on the 250 former psychiatric patients who are suing psychiatric hospitals throughout New Zealand over their treatment and the use of ECT. Miss Lister also received the treatment, but her views of it are very different to those taking the legal action.

New Zealand has 250 former patients to take on electro-shock!? If it didn’t have much of a survivor movement in the past, it certainly has one now.

The news media picks up on one woman who didn’t mind ECT so much, but preferred LSD. She goes back to the time when they experimented with that substance legally on psychiatric patients. There are, let’s see, at least 250 people out there with harsher views on the subject of ECT.

I did a little Google search of my own to see what this is all about, and one thing is for certain, if anything is going on here, the press don’t seem to have picked up on it yet. I did find an earlier more balanced article in Stuff again, Electroconvulsive therapy endures.

Women receive ECT nearly twice as much as men do, and elderly women receive the most. Reasons for this could include loneliness and isolation, specialists say.

You don’t mean those elderly women, already at a risk for Alzheimers and dementia, do you?

Why do I call them survivors?

Memory returns within six weeks after treatment for 95 per cent of patients, but “it might take a bit longer” for the other 5 per cent, she [psychiatrist Pamela Melding] says. The greatest risk was to people with cardiovascular problems, but this was monitored and considered before treatment. Muscle pains, ringing in the ears, headaches and nausea are other adverse effects.

A certain number of these patients die during the procedure. Shock, coupled with cardiovascular problems, for instance, can produce a cadaver.

My feeling is that this lack of coverage has something to do with the way mental patients and former mental patients are treated in general.

“We will look back on ECT as we now look back on lobotomies.”

Such were the concluding sentiments of University of Auckland psychologist and researcher John Read.

Having seen the ups and downs of the movement against shock in this country, the USA, I would say celebrating is still a bit premature. I would also wager that the eclipse won‘t happen without direct action, but the good news is at least New Zealanders have the people to make a start at changing things for the better where people facing mental health treatment are concerned in their homeland.

4 Responses

  1. The article about the woman from Timaru was in response to one a few days back
    I agree that celebrating is a bit premature. I hope this isn’t just an opportunity for lawyers to make some money.
    On the subject of LSD, psychiatrists are still experimenting with hallucinogenic substances

    • Thanks, for showing us this article. Imagine a girl is being shocked for her sexual preferences. This is before deviant sexual preference was ousted from the DSM. This shocking leads to what in the trade circles is referred to as “self-injurious” behaviors. The labeling which started at Neurotic Personality Disorder slides to Schizophrenic. In other words, a girl like other girls is made to act out (worse) by her treatment, and a girl who should probably not have been hospitalized in the first place. (My opinion.) Scary, isn’t it?

      Psilocibin and ketamine (an active ingrediant in Ecstacy) are among the illicit drugs that have been looked at in the case of depression. Alright, I suppose, but your failures could lead to a person being put on a neuroleptic drug, just as happens when anti-depressants and stimulants are used to excess. The chemical fix isn’t the only fix, unfortunately, far too often it’s the only fix conventional contemporary psychiatry knows. Many people who experienced, and survived, the drug culture of the past, finally came to the realization that there is no high like a natural high. This natural high, in fact, was the result of millions of years of evolution. Trying to improve upon it has always resulted in more misses than hits.

  2. After she passed away, I discovered that a lady I had been acquainted with had been subjected to electric shock therapy for her sexual preferences. Doctors showed her pictures of her girlfriend then administered electric shocks so she would associate the pain with her preferences – I call this torture. It made no difference save to cause her harm; she loved her girlfriend until her dying day.

  3. For Mr. Forest- I had my ECT done back in December 2002. I was next to a man in his mid twenties who was having it done because his parents thought it would “cure” him of his homosexuality.

    I know it failed for me. I wish I knew how he did long term on his.

    Thank you for posting this piece.

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