The bill that would abolish involuntary shock therapy in Connecticut, particularly forced “electroconvulsive therapy” (ECT or electroshock), presently has published written testimony from nineteen individuals (and some unpublished testimony) and a copy of a report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here’s the third part of my breakdown of the written testimony, with some relevant information. (I exclude my own testimony and that of State Representative Sandy Nafis and State Senator Paul Doyle, as we spearheaded the bill.)
See the end for hyperlinks to my other articles on electroshock.
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David McCannon, former patient
David McCannon wrote about his experience as a psychiatric patient and with electroshock:
My name is David McCannon and I was a chronic mental health patient for 7 years. I have been on many psychiatric drugs and even had ECT and nothing work. ECT has done more harm than good for me. I now realize that ECT has the same effect as performing a lobotomy on the frontal lobes of your brain. If treatments like antidepressants were giving on voluntary bases, and these drugs were a last resort, not used as primary treatment, ECT would be banned long ago in my opinion. I support bill HB 5298. Please vote yes for this bill. I am over 2 years free from SSRI Antidepressant drugs, and I no longer struggle with depression and I no longer have a desire to end my life. If I have been giving the information I needed about worsening of depression that antidepressants can cause, and I knew sooner that I was not a good candidate for these drugs, ECT would have never been considered. Please stop this insanity.
Writing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, Joe Lee gives a passionate plea to end forced electroshock. An excerpt:
I write to your from Australia after hearing about the chance that the US state of Connecticut could become the first US State to pioneer an end to the horrific practice of forced electroshock. I know many people with mental diagnoses live in sheer terror of these laws allowing forced shock to be on the books. Laws which permit forced electroshock run contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has condemned the practice of forced electroshock in recent years.
The eyes of the world are upon you, human rights advocates from as far away as Australia wait to see what the outcome of this attempt to ban this horrific practice in Connecticut will be. Please vote in favor of liberty and human rights and dignity, and against forced electroshock laws.
Other members of the public, in favor of Bill 5298
The testimony of Rich A. describes a horrid experience at Connecticut Valley Hospital (CVH), where he was forced to listen to a patient undergoing “wet sheet pack treatment.” He urges, “Please put all of this sordid history behind you and commit to treating EVERY person in the state, institutionalized or otherwise, as the human beings they, and we, all are.”
Rebecca, in the state of New York, cites the 1999 qualitative study by psychologist Lucy Johnstone entitled “Adverse psychological effects of ECT.” I also cited that study in my article dated November 21, 2012.
Florence Miller, also in New York, writes, “Doing such a thing to anyone is a horror out of the Soviet Union of the 1930s! I am amazed forced electroshock is legal anywhere!”
Laura Borst, in Houston, Texas, says, “I read that some people who had it [electroshock] suffered such severe memory loss that they were unable to recognize their loved ones.”
Lennard J. Davis, a Distinguished Professor in multiple departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago, remarks that “to forcibly subject an American citizen to this very risky treatment is completely unacceptable in a civilized community.”
There is also heartfelt testimony from a patient advocate, but I’m excluding it from this summary because of an attached message about confidentiality.
Unpublished testimony: John Breeding, psychologist
Psychologist John Breeding, based in Texas, emailed written testimony to the Public Health Committee on March 1. His testimony has not yet been published to the Webpage displaying the written testimony. Breeding’s letter struck me in that he points out that Connecticut would not be the first state to prohibit involuntary electroshock, a fact of which I was unaware.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in strong support of the proposed legislation to ban involuntary electroshock in Connecticut.
I am a psychologist in Texas, where forced electroshock has been illegal since 1993. The humane thing to do in Connecticut would be to do the same.
Electroshock as a practice is not only dangerous and damaging, but also ineffective in helping people. Regarding the former, as electroshock involves the sending of massive (up top 400 volts) of electricity into the brain and induces a grand mal convulsion, it always causes brain damage; the only question is how much. The most obvious indicator of brain damage is memory loss, which always happens with electroshock, and is often severe. Regarding ineffectiveness, the data is clear that even those who feel that they have obtained a short–term benefit generally relapse within 3 to 6 months. The documents section of the website of our Coalition for the abolition of Electroshock in Texas provides a wealth of specific research data on electroshock (www.endofshock.com).
In short, electroshock always causes brain damage and memory loss, and does not work. This is why, after decades of use, electroshock devices are still classified as experimental and unproven by the FDA. In any event, given such a dangerous and ineffective procedure it is unconscionable to force it on people. Forced electroshock should absolutely be abolished, and it a moral duty of state governments to protect their citizens from such dangers. I urge Connecticut to follow Texas’ lead and ban forced electroshock.
John Breeding, PhD
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My other articles on electroshock and Bill 5298, in ascending chronological order:
January 14, 2012: Letter to Three Connecticut Politicians about Involuntary Electroshock
November 21, 2012: A summary of references against electroshock treatment
February 4, 2013: Proposed Bill 5298 and a second summary of references against ECT
March 5, 2013: Bill 5298: the written testimony, part 1
March 7, 2013: Bill 5298: the written testimony, part 2