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CHRUSP mission - and "forced electroshock" or "electroshock"

CHRUSP mission - and "forced electroshock" or "electroshock"
Tina Minkowitz - Wed Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:02AM
Comments: 36

We have made a slight change in our mission statement, saying that we work for an end to "forced drugging, forced electroshock and psychiatric incarceration." It used to say "forced drugging, electroshock and psychiatric incarceration". A supporter asked us to clarify the ambiguity.

Our original intention was to address forced psychiatry of any kind and to also address the need to change from a medical model to social/spiritual/personal model by promoting the kinds of support people want.

I have heard respected advocates against electroshock offer different reasons for opposing it entirely. One reason is that "it is not possible to have free and informed consent to electroshock." Another is that it is simply too harmful, too brain-damaging and there are alternatives. I am open to hearing from you about what you think on this issue and would reopen the question of whether CHRUSP should oppose all electroshock based on your comments.

If we oppose electroshock, should we similarly oppose neuroleptic drugs? There are people who have had seriously traumatic brain-damaging effects from the use of neuroleptics. And we know that there is little if any free and informed consent for these drugs either. So long as there is a threat of coercion, discrimination and pressure from families, courts and society to numb and repress our feelings, so long as alternatives are few and far between, so long as doctors minimize and dismiss the serious adverse effects - consent to psychiatric drugs of any kind is neither free nor informed.

I would like to know the views of CHRUSP friends and supporters on where you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable treatments, services and supports - those that should be promoted, those that should be allowed with free and informed consent, and those that should be opposed under any circumstances. And on what basis you make the distinctions. Personal experience is very relevant. And by putting this in categories or a logical framework I don't mean to repress your creativity in responding. The purpose is to think about what position we should advocate in CHRUSP and hopefully to feed a more general discussion on this topic in the user/survivor movement as a whole.


Comments: 36


1. Kent Reedy   |   Mon Dec 27, 2010 @ 11:48AM

There will always be some people who say they benefitted from electroshock, and some will say so very adamently and to a very large audience (e.g. Kitty Dukakis). So I think it is definitely better to just be against electroshock that is forced or coerced rather than all electroshock -- it is much harder for anyone to credibly accuse you of taking away their right to a beneficial treatment that way. I think it is mostly the role of the dominant powers to prevent people from having access to something that might harm them -- dissenters can be most effective by only supporting the right to not be harmed by someone else.

Even if it is true that "it is not possible to have free and informed consent to electroshock", I don't think there is any chance that it will ever be totally abolished until it is first not allowed to ever be given forcibly. But I think there should be more liability for the people who give ECT to have to compensate the people they shocked for the damage that results, even if electroshock was consented to.

The same should be true for the drugs as well -- the people who give them should be held personally liable for whatever damage they cause, even when the person taking them didn't object. Some people do take the drugs willingly, but they should still be able to collect some kind of compensation when the drugs do terrible things to them.

If psychiatrists were held more to account for the provable physical damage that they routinely cause, then I think they would do a lot less of it.

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