Mental Health Watchdog Renews Call for a Ban on Electroshock Device

by | Jul 14, 2020

It hits the head with the force of a 40-pound cinder block dropped seven and a half feet. It’s been described by patients as a grenade going off in your body. It’s called electroconvulsive therapy.

In the wake of a recent study published in the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry calling for the use of electroshock treatment (ECT) to be suspended immediately due to the risk of side effects such as brain damage, the Florida chapter of the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) announced its continued support of the nationwide movement to ban the use of ECT stating that such a ban only makes sense due to reports of damage and deaths. [1,2]

Florida saw a 60% increase between 2015 and 2016 in the number of Medicaid recipients who were electroshocked while Texas, the only state to record deaths within 14 days of electroshock being administered, reported a death rate in recent years that represents an estimated 300 deaths nationally each year. [2]

“The recent admission by an ECT device manufacturer that use of the device could result in permanent brain damage as well as severe memory loss reinforces the need for a ban,” states Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida. [3]

Examples of brain damage and memory loss are all too abundant:

  • In March 2016, a coroner from Sunderland County in the UK determined Elsie Tindle died after electroshock triggered an epileptic fit which caused irreparable brain damage. [4]
  • A 2012 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported a considerable “decrease in functional connectivity” between the prefrontal lobes of the brain and other parts of the brain after ECT. The most extensive long-term follow-up study indicates that “most ECT patients will never recover from the damage in the form of persistent severe mental deficits.” [5]
  • Leading ECT researcher and advocate, psychologist Harold Sackeim admitted in an editorial in The Journal of ECT that “virtually all patients experience some degree of persistent and, likely, permanent retrograde amnesia.” In a January 2007 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Sackeim and colleagues acknowledged that ECT may cause permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect ability to function. [6,7]
  • In 2005, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille ruled that a psychiatrist and Santa Barbara psychiatric facility deceived its patients by failing to tell them that ECT causes irreversible memory loss. The psychiatrist (who had performed shock treatment for over 20 years), admitted that neither he nor anyone else understands how shock treatment works, and that the consent form Johnson provided to patients was “decidedly misleading in a critical regard,” concerning the permanency of memory loss. [8]

However, despite evidence to the contrary, the FDA and American Psychiatric Association continue to minimize adverse effects and tout the merits of electroshock, a 5.4-billion-dollar industry, although there are no clinical trials proving ECT’s safety and efficacy. [9]

Charles Kellner, professor of psychiatry and director of ECT services at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai recently asserted in Psychiatric Times that adverse effects such as the cognitive damage from ECT isn’t a “safety” concern but, rather, a “tolerability” issue. [10]

While some states have enacted limited bans on the use of ECT, California, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas have banned the use of ECT on those 0-12 and 0-16, CCHR strongly believes that a full ban on the use of the ECT device is warranted.

CCHR encourages anyone who wishes to know more about electroshock to visit and to sign the petition to ban the ECT device in Florida and the nationwide petition.

[1] ECT depression therapy should be suspended, study suggests, By Mark Easton, Home editor, 3 June 2020
[2] Jonathan Emord & Associates, Citizens Petition filed with the FDA Commissioner, 14 Aug. 2016, page 27, p. 14 and 42,
[2] “An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas, 1993-1998,” 1 Aug 2001,
[3] Thymatron® System IV Cautions and Warnings
[4] Petra Silfverskiold, “Electric shock therapy led to Sunderland patient having permanent fit,” Daily Mail (UK), 10 Mar. 2016,
[5] Peter Breggin, “New Study Confirms Electroshock (ECT) Causes Brain Damage,” Huffington Post, 9 Apr. 2012,
[6] John Breeding, Ph,D., “Electroshocking Children:
Why It Should Be Stopped,” Mad in America, 11 Feb. 2014,
[7] John Breeding, Ph,D., “Electroshocking Children:
Why It Should Be Stopped,” Mad in America, 11 Feb. 2014,, citing, Sackeim et al., “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings” Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 32, Number 1, 2007.
[8] Charles D. Morgan, “Milestone case: Hospital ordered to cease shocking patients,”


  1. Pam Hubbert

    Thank you for this enlightening article. Who are the crazy ones? Patients or their psychiatrists? I find that this barbaric and archaic “treatment” that is still going on in the 21st century is a testimony to the immorality of those who have either given up on their patients or just see a way to make money off of them. Either way it is a betrayal of any human being who is misfortunate enough to get into their hands.

    • CCHR Florida

      You’re welcome. Many people are shocked to learn that ECT is still delivered at all let alone to children.

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109 N. Fort Harrison Ave.
Clearwater, Florida 33755
Tel: 1-800-782-2878