ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) involves the application of two electrodes to the head to pass electricity through the brain with the goal of causing an intense seizure or convulsion. The process always damages the brain, resulting each time in a temporary coma and often a flatlining of the brain waves, which is a sign of impending brain death. After one, two or three ECTs, the trauma causes typical symptoms of severe head trauma or injury including headache, nausea, memory loss, disorientation, confusion, impaired judgment, loss of personality, and emotional instability. These harmful effects worsen and some become permanent as routine treatment progresses. Dr. Peter R. Breggin
Big Lie #1: “ECT is safer than childbirth”
This quote comes from Dr. Max Fink, a leading proponent of ECT. If one out of every 200 women were dying in delivery it would be front page news.
Big Lie #2: “ECT doesn’t cause brain damage”
One picture will refute that. The illustration below (MRI on the right, CT left, same patient) depicts a large hemorrhage from ECT. Hemorrhages, large and small, cause permanent seizure disorders in some patients.
Another MRI study documented a breakdown of the blood brain barrier and cerebral edema – brain swelling – after each and every shock. (Mander et al: British Journal of Psychiatry, 1987: V 151, p 69-71)
Big lie #3: “ECT is new and improved”
The whole point of ECT is to trigger a convulsion and there is simply no way around the brain’s threshold: 100 joules of energy, a typical “dose,” whether brief pulse, square wave, sine wave, AC or DC, unilateral or bilateral, with or without oxygen equals the energy it takes to light up a 100 watt bulb for one second or drop a 73 pound weight one foot. And it’s the energy that does the damage.
Big lie #4: “ECT is a ‘Godsend'”
(Dr. Fink again). In March of this year, Dr. Sackeim published a study in JAMA showing a “relapse rate” of 84% within six months of stopping ECT. It is no coincidence that improvement ceases just as the concussive effects are finally waning. Sackeim’s solution?: more ECT. Call it “maintenance” or call it “continuation,” just don’t stop. (JAMA. 2001;285:1299-1307).
Big lie #5: “No one knows how ECT works”
On the contrary, everyone knows how ECT works. It works by erasing memory and terrifying people.
The “Five Big Lies” is an excerpt from the testimony of Dr. John M. Friedberg, MD, Neurologist, before the Mental Health Committee of the New York State Assembly on May 18, 2001.
Get the Facts
For an exhaustive list of articles and information on electroshock therapy, see Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s ECT Resources Center.