ECT MachineDictionaries define “harmful” as coming from the word harm, which means “causing or likely to cause physical injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted.”

In the alternate world of psychiatry, “harm” becomes a good thing, where intentionally firing 70–150 volts of electricity through a person’s brain and causing a grand mal seizure is a “a safe and effective therapy.”

But the harm doesn’t end with this traumatic physical experience (which can last up to 30 minutes and can include repeatedly induced seizures.) [i]

Proven Memory Loss from ECT

Here is what the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry says about the “possible memory side effects” from this procedure:

“Memory loss is one of the greatest concerns of people who receive ECT. Two different kinds of memory loss may occur during the course of ECT treatments. The first is the loss of short-term memory during the period of time that you are having ECT treatments. Some examples of short-term memory loss include forgetting what you had for lunch or not remembering talking to someone earlier in the day. Your ability to remember new information will generally return to your normal level within a few weeks to a few months after the treatments are finished.

“The second type of memory loss that may occur involves memory loss for past events. Recent past events (2 to 6 weeks before treatment) are more sensitive to ECT. However, some patients may describe “spotty” memory loss for events that occurred as far back as 6 months before beginning ECT. This memory impairment is potentially permanent…” [ii]

British Psychiatrists Rave about ECT but Patients Not Thrilled

The Royal College of Psychiatrists report that when researchers analyzed experiences with ECT, those who found the procedure helpful ranged from 30% to 80%. This breaks down to only 30% of patients finding ECT helpful compared to 80% of psychiatrists who have a positive attitude about the treatment.

This Monty Python-like statement was made by the psychiatrists without a trace of humor.

Continuing in this same vein, the Royal College of Psychiatrists also admit that “Some memory problems are probably present in everyone receiving ECT. Most people feel better after the course of ECT has finished and a few weeks have passed.”

These British psychiatrists also state that “some people do complain that their memory has been permanently affected, that their memories never come back.”

Finally, “It is not clear how much of this is due to the ECT, and how much is due to the depressive illness or other factors.” [iii] Really? This genuine inability to observe cause and effect is why psychiatrists have not been able to cure anything in over 200 years.

How Exactly does ECT Work?

It depends who you ask. Here are some theories expressed by mental health experts:

  1. “The theory goes like this — depression isn’t caused by too little brain activity. It’s actually caused by too much brain activity, an overactive brain that has accidentally “hot-wired” multiple brain networks together. (How and why this hot-wiring occurs is still a mystery.) So how can ECT undo this hot-wiring? It’s theorized that ECT may undo this hot-wiring, and return the brain’s neural networks to normal functioning…” – Dr. John M. Grohol , Expert and Researcher for mental health online[iv]
  2. “It clearly rejigs the electrical wiring of the brain in some way…when somebody’s having a heart attack and their heart stops, you get them going again by putting the paddles on their chest…ECT is the kind of cerebral version. But why it is that electricity rejigs the wiring of the brain is [not totally known].” – Edward Shorter of the University of Toronto, a social historian of medicine[v]
  3. “No-one is certain how ECT works. We do know that it can change patterns of blood flow through the brain and change the metabolism of areas of the brain …” – Raj Persaud, Royal College of Psychiatrists[vi]

These child-like comments made by men who are influential in their field would be humorous if the treatment were not so potentially devastating. It is doubtful that any of those commenting would willingly undergo ECT to “rejig” their brain’s electrical wiring or “undo the hot-wiring.”

What ECT Really Does to the Brain

Linda Andre for the National Head Injury Foundation reported the actual effects of ECT in a detailed paper:

“Another common claim of shock doctors and publicists, that ECT “saves lives” or somehow prevents suicide, can be quickly disposed of. There is simply no evidence in the literature to support this claim. The one study on ECT and suicide (Avery and Winokur, 1976) shows that ECT has no effect on the suicide rate.

“Case studies, neuroanatomical testing, neuropsychological testing, and self-reports that remain strikingly similar over 50 years testify to the devastating effects of ECT on memory, identity, and cognition.

“Recent CAT scan studies showing a relationship between ECT and brain atrophy or abnormality include Calloway (1981); Weinberger et al (1979a and 1979b); and Dolan, Calloway et al (1986).

“The vast majority of ECT research has focused and continues to focus on the effects of ECT on memory, for good reason. Memory loss is a symptom of brain damage and, as neurologist John Friedberg (quoted in Bielski, 1990) points out, ECT causes more permanent memory loss than any severe closed-head injury with coma or almost any other insult to or disease of the brain.” [vii]

That psychiatry continues to promote this devastating “treatment” is reason enough to question  their sanity and block them from access to patients, young or old. The fact that they are now promoting ETC for treating children and the elderly has outraged many.

Victims of this abuse continue to speak out; when their voices reach a crescendo, perhaps this barbaric treatment will finally be outlawed.

[i] http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/psychology/psychology-and-psychiatry/electroconvulsive-therapy

[ii] https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/psychiatry/programs/neuromodulation/electroconvulsive-therapy

[iii] http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/therapies/electroconvulsivetherapy,ect.aspx

[iv] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/03/20/how-does-ect-work-in-the-brain/

[v] http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/10/29/electroconvulsive-therapy-what-it-is-how-it-works-and-who-it-helps

[vi] http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/therapies/electroconvulsivetherapy,ect.aspx

[vii] https://www.ect.org/effects/headinjury.html