Linda Andre’s new book scheduled for 2008 publication

Linda Andre’s new book scheduled for 2008 publication

If you visit next year, expect that I’ll be promoting Linda Andre’s new book! And you’d better plan on buying.

Her book was purchased this week by a major publisher!

This book will shed light on an industry that has fed on a plague of self deception, of defensiveness, and of outright lies. Might as well put the shock industry on official notice: the chipping away at your ivory wall continues. This time, Ms. Linda Andre will be wielding a jackhammer.

I confess I’ve had a peek, and the writing is stunning. That’s not a surprise to me and won’t be to anyone who knows Linda’s skills. It may be a surprise to the “gang” (Sackeim, Ricky and friends), who won’t be able to conceive that she’s far more articulate than they are.

This book will illuminate the practices of an industry the way that my favorite book “And The Band Played On” by Randy Shilts did regarding the AIDs epidemic and the Reagan Administration’s failure to react. In a year’s time, Shilt’s book will have to accept its role as “second-favorite” book.

Please check back in a year, or head to your favorite bookstore to purchase Linda Andre’s upcoming book.

Congratulations, Linda!!!!!!!

Two more blogs of note has a blog and has been documenting the ongoing Eli Lilly legal challenges:

MindFreedom Blog

Next blog is from the makers of the film “Side Effects,” and includes news about the pharmaceutical industry. I’ll soon be viewing and reviewing their new film “Money Talks – Profits Before Patient Safety.” The trailer intrigued me and this looks like it could be a dandy!

Mo Productions

CIA brainwashing victims seek Canada court action

Monsters and Critics

Americas Features
CIA brainwashing victims seek Canada court action
By James Stairs
Jan 19, 2007

Montreal – In a case that sounds like science fiction, a Montreal court is deciding whether a class action lawsuit can be brought against the Canadian government on behalf of more than 250 psychiatric patients who were unwittingly subjected to radical experiments in the 1950s.

The so-called MK-ULTRA tests were part of a secret mind-control programme funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Canadian government in the 1950s.

The Cold-War-era experiments, carried out by a Scottish doctor in Montreal, included forced isolation, induced-comas, electro-shock therapy and the use of hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD and paralysis-inducing narcotics.

Lawyers for Janine Huard, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, told a Montreal court last week that their client suffered for years as a result of Dr. Ewan Cameron’s experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric hospital based at Montreal’s McGill University.

The experiments were part of a controversial secret CIA programme, aimed at uncovering techniques of mind control and led by Cameron, who died in 1967.

MK-ULTRA was launched by the CIA in 1953 and headed by the American chemist Sidney Gottleib. It reportedly funded projects both at home and abroad, including the Montreal study, and hoped to be able to find ways to extract information from prisoners and influence foreign leaders through brainwashing.

The project was brought under scrutiny in 1974 when newspaper reporters uncovered that MK-ULTRA had drugged unwitting subjects in the US with hallucinogens and secretly observed their actions. The project had been disbanded a year earlier and all record of its activities were destroyed.

Cameron’s research specifically revolved around ‘psychic driving’ – a potential cure, he believed, for depression and dementia that involved erasing patients memories and then building them back up again.

Huard said that she first came under the care of Cameron, a former president of the World Psychiatric Association, when she consulted him in 1951 regarding a case of postpartum depression after the birth of the second of her four children. She was in his care another two times up to 1962.

The court heard that Huard and hundreds of others were test subjects for Cameron’s ‘de-patterning’ experiments, which included the repeated playing of recorded messages while patients lay in a drug-induced semi-comatose state.

Huard said that she underwent electro-shock treatments and was administered dozens of unknown pills a day, keeping her semi- conscious.

‘She never knew that she was being subjected to these experiments or that she was being used by Dr. Cameron and his staff as a guinea pig,’ Alan Stein, Huard’s lawyer told the court.

The aftermath of the tests, she said, left her unable to function normally, afflicted by memory loss, depression and by migraine headaches.

‘I came out of there so sick that my mother had to live with me for ten years,’ she told reporters. ‘I couldn’t take care of my children any more.’

The CIA paid Huard and several others 67,000 US dollars each as part of a 1988 class action settlement.

In 1994, the Canadian government compensated 77 of the most severely incapacitated former patients 100,000 US dollars each for damage they suffered from the programme.

Huard and 252 others were denied compensation at the time, since the long-term affects of the testing were not deemed serious enough to warrant payment.

In 2004, a court overturned one of the decisions and awarded 100,000 Canadian dollars (85,259 US dollars) to Gail Kastner, a former patient who had undergone severe electro-shock therapy to treat her depression in 1953 at the hospital but whose claim had been previously deemed ineligible.

This decision, Huard’s lawyers argued, opens the door for the current class-action request.

Lawyers for the government did not dispute Huard’s claims but argued that the tests happened too long ago for her to make another attempt at compensation.

‘They demolished me,’ Huard told reporters as she entered the court. ‘They gave me terrible drugs, electroshocks, and made me stay in a bed with a mask over my face listening to recordings for hours a day. I was afraid.’

No timetable has been given regarding a decision from the court.

Doc who strangled nanny is locked up; he’d had ECT

Oct 7 2005

By James Glover, Liverpool Echo

MEDICAL chiefs were never warned that killer doctor Abdalla Eltom was suffering mental problems.

The Sudanese surgeon was yesterday locked up indefinitely after he admitted killing his children’s nanny at the family home in Park View, Thornton.

Liverpool crown court heard the 52-year-old surgeon strangled 48- year- old Premawatnie Dolamullage with a necktie after he stopped taking medication for a mental disorder.

Father- of- three Eltom worked in the casualty department of Ormskirk general hospital, but gave up his job suffering from severe depression after he sent home a patient in April 2002 who later died.

But the General Medical Council (GMC), the body which licences doctors and surgeons to practise in Britain, would not necessarily have been notified of this and would not have known that Eltom was taking medication and was not mentally stable.

A GMC spokesman said: “We were never made aware of any concerns over the doctor.”

Eltom came to believe he had contracted HIV and that his food was inedible and dirty and he was put on anti-depressants.

After receiving electroconvulsive therapy his condition appeared to improve and he stopped taking his medication in January.

But on January 25 he snapped, murdered his nanny in the sitting room of his home and then walked into Crosby police station to announce: ” I ‘ ve killed someone – I’ve strangled her.”

It was more than a week after the killing when police were finally able to name Eltom’s victim because they could not find a relative who could confirm her identity.

Miss Dolamullage did not have any relatives in this country so police had to contact the authorities in Sri Lanka, who were still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, to try to find a family member who could identify the nanny.

Eltom was charged with murder, but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Ahmed Nadim, defending, told the court: “This is a tragedy for the victim, her family, for the defendant’s family and for the defendant.”

Judge Mr Justice Royce sentenced Eltom to an indefinite hospital order.

UK: Landmark judgement for suicide victim

Editor’s note: This man, who committed suicide after a workplace accident, had ECT just three months before his suicide. According to an editor in the UK, the employer’s lawyers originally considered pursuing the hospital, but changed their minds.


Corr v IBC – Court of Appeal Judgment.
Date:     19 Sep 2006
Text     Corr v IBC – Court of Appeal Judgment.


The claimant was a Maintenance Engineer employed by IBC. He sustained injuries as a result of an accident at work on 22 June 1996. He was almost decapitated, in the event he sustained severe head injuries, underwent several operations including the reconstruction of his right ear, he suffered tinnitus, severe headaches, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe depression. His severe depression led to him committing suicide in May 2002. Following the suicide his employers, IBC Vehicles, alleged that there was no duty to protect against suicide and that in any event the suicide was not foreseeable. They also sought to blame the treating health trust although later discontinued their action in that regard. The case proceeded to the High Court in April 2005. The trial Judge found that an employer’s duty of care did not extend to the prevention of suicide and that the suicide was too remote. The Claimant’s widow was awarded approximately £85,500 and on our advice appealed to the Court of Appeal in December 2005 on the basis that the judgment was wrong and that the claimant’s widow should be entitled to claim for dependency representing an award for loss of her husband’s future income and pension. The claimant was represented by the TGWU who also funded the appeal. This case was of significant importance both to victims of suicide and for the law in general in that it was the first employers’ liability case heard in England since 1957 when under the old law; it was held that a defendant should only be liable for “foreseeable” damage. The Court of Appeal after hearing extensive arguments by both parties’ representatives overturned the High Court ruling by a majority decision. It held that the claimant’s suicide was symptomatic of depression and that as his “depression” was foreseeable that was sufficient. Further, given our unchallenged psychiatric evidence, namely that one in ten sufferers of severe depression go on to commit suicide, it was also held that the suicide was in any event foreseeable. The court increased the initial award to £633, 000 which is very satisfying given that Mr. Corr left a widow and two young children. This case demonstrates the real benefits of union membership which helped bring about a change in the law and justice for the victim and his family.

Gay victims of Franco era to win compensation

By Graham Keeley in Barcelona
28 December 2006
The Independent

In the dying days of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, Antoni Ruiz found out for himself what thousands of others had already suffered for being gay.

Antoni, then just 17, from Valencia, eastern Spain, told his mother he was homosexual and his family sought advice from a nun. “She went straight to the police and I was arrested and sent for trial,” said Mr Ruiz.

“I spent three months in prison. I was raped there and in the police cells and psychologically tortured by both the guards and the prison doctor.”

Now, 31 years later, Mr Ruiz and a dwindling band of others who suffered General Franco’s ruthless repression of homosexuals, may finally be offered compensation by the state.

The Spanish government may offer money to those who were sent to mental hospitals, tortured, imprisoned or who suffered a lifetime of persecution. The Spanish Justice Minister, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, is considering granting victims a pension of €800 (£540) a month, plus a one-off €12,000 payment for what they suffered under the regime. It could be introduced in two months.

Many homosexuals were prevented from working under the Franco dictatorship because of their “criminal” records, meaning they never contributed enough money to receive more than the minimum pension.

Mr Ruiz, president of the Association of Ex-Social Prisoners, said the move would be a victory. “This is not just about economic compensation but remembering homosexuals who suffered under unjust and dictatorial laws,” he added. A few hundred survivors will see the payments – many of the thousands victimised have since died.

During Franco’s homophobic dictatorship, gays were jailed or locked up in sinister mental institutions known as “correction camps”. With echoes of the Nazi atrocities against gays, they were given electric shocks in the belief that this would rid them of their homosexual urges. Inmates were forced to watch pornographic films featuring women in an effort to show them a sex life that was deemed “natural” by the conservative authorities.

As part of their nationalist, Catholic ideals, the Franco regime and its Falangist supporters considered homosexuals a threat to the “macho” Spanish male.

General Queipo del Llano, who broadcast to the nation, once said: “Any effeminate or introvert who insults the movement will be killed like a dog.”

The most famous gay man killed by the regime was the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who wrote Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. Considered a subversive, he was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in Granada in 1936.

Homosexuality was designated as an offence under the “law against delinquency and criminals” introduced in 1954. But towards the end of Franco’s regime, it was increasingly viewed as an illness rather than a crime. In 1968, the psychologist Lopez Ibor said: “Homosexuals should be seen more as sick people than as criminals. But the law should still prevent them proselytising in schools, sports clubs and army barracks.” Jail terms of up to three years were imposed under laws covering “public scandal” or “social danger”.

Homosexuals, almost all of them men, were packed off to mental hospitals, where some were given electric-shock therapy.

Lower middle class or working-class gays without powerful friends in the regime to protect them were the main victims. For others, the situation was different. The historian Pablo Fuentes said: “It is not uncommon to hear homosexuals from the upper classes and the aristocracy speak about the Franco period as a great time.”

Many gay people who suffered at the hands of the regime are reluctant to raise the issue because of the horrors it brings back or because they still fear society’s attitudes.

Even after Franco died, persecution of gays continued. They could be jailed until 1979. And although thousands of political and other prisoners were pardoned in 1976, gay people were made to serve their sentences. In 2001, Spain finally pledged to wipe clean the criminal records of gays convicted under Franco.

The present Socialist government legalised same-sex weddings and gay adoption in 2005, against opposition from the conservative opposition and the Roman Catholic Church.

Pedro Zerolo, president of Spain’s Federation of Gays and Lesbians, said: “What we want is a declaration of moral rehabilitation for those people who had part of their lives stolen by the state.”

Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits note: This article is appearing in numerous publications and websites, so to avoid repeating the same information again and again, an ongoing list of publications will be posted below.


Electroconvulsive Therapy Causes Permanent Amnesia and Cognitive Deficits, Prominent Researcher Admits
12.21.06, 3:38 PM ET

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a stunning reversal, an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2007 by prominent researcher Harold Sackeim of Columbia University reveals that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) causes permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect individuals’ ability to function.

“[T]his study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings,” the study notes.

For the past 25 years, ECT patients were told by Sackeim, the nation’s top ECT researcher, that the controversial treatment doesn’t cause permanent amnesia and, in fact, improves memory and increases intelligence. Psychologist Sackeim also taught a generation of ECT practitioners that permanent amnesia from ECT is so rare that it could not be studied. He asserted that most people who said the treatment erased years of memory were mentally ill and thus not credible.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that more than 3 million people have received ECT over the past generation. “Those patients who reported permanent adverse effects on cognition have now had their experiences validated,” said Linda Andre, head of the Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, a national organization of ECT recipients.

Since the mid-1980s, Sackeim worked as a consultant to the ECT device manufacturer Mecta Corp. He never revealed his financial interest in ECT to NIMH, as required by federal law, and, until 2002, did not reveal it to New York officials as required by state law. Neuropsychopharmacology has endured negative publicity over its failure to disclose financial conflicts of journal authors, resulting in the editor’s resignation and a promise to disclose such conflicts in the future; yet there is no disclosure of Sackeim’s long-term relationship with Mecta, nor did Sackeim disclose his financial conflict when his NIMH grant was renewed to 2009 at approximately $500,000 per year.

The six-month study followed about 250 patients in New York City hospitals, an unusually large number; most ECT studies are based on 20 to 30 patients. Sackeim’s previously published studies were short term, making it impossible to assess long-term effects. “However, in other contexts over the years — court depositions, communications with mental health officials, and grant protocols — Sackeim has claimed to follow up patients for as long as five years. This raises serious questions as to how long he has actually known of the existence and prevalence of permanent amnesia and why it wasn’t revealed until now,” Andre said.

Besides finding that ECT routinely causes substantial and permanent amnesia, the study contradicts Sackeim’s oft-published statements that ECT increases intelligence and that patients who report permanent adverse effects are mentally ill.

“The study is a stunning self-repudiation of a 25-year career,” Andre said.


Other publications that have picked up the story:

Dec 22 2006:

Medical News Today
Dallas News – Healthcare & Hospitals
Philadelphia Weekly
Genetic Engineering News

New Zealand: 350 more patients allege abuses

350 former psychiatric patients to seek compensation from government

Oct. 6 2006
New Zealand Radio

The lawyer for 350 former psychiatric patients seeking compensation from the government says there’s no difference between his clients and another set of patients who have already been paid substantial compensation.

The 350 claim they were mistreated at State-run mental asylums in the 1960s and 70s.

Their accounts of abuse are similar to those of former patients at the Lake Alice psychiatric hospital, who are sharing $6.5 million in compensation paid in 2001.

About 200 of the group have already lodged legal claims; and more are expected to do so, saying they suffered physical and sexual abuse. They also say electric shock treatment was used as a punishment.
Govt stance

The new group’s lawyer, Roger Chapman, says that puts the government in a tough position.

He says it’s difficult, morally, to defend a stand of this kind by a government that accepted that it had an obligation to the Lake Alice patients.

The cost of taking the claims through the courts will fall on the taxpayer through legal aid.

The first hearings are a year away, and Mr Chapman expects many more former patients will come forward in the meantime.

Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss and Brain Damage

Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage – Psychiatry’s
Don’t Look, Don’t Tell Policy
by Richard A. Warner

This downloadable paper was written by a paralegal in an ECT case that is currently on appeal. He researched the subject for two years, and decided to put that research to use, in this paper.

Shock Treatment: Efficacy, Memory Loss, and Brain Damage

PDF: 300k

Memorandum re: NY Supreme Court forced shock ruling


September 21, 2006

A New York State intermediate appellate court, the Appellate Division,
Second Judicial Department, has rejected a challenge by MHLS to a lower
court order authorizing involuntary electro-shock treatment of Simone D.,
a patient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, a state hospital in
Queens, New York. The Appellate Division, in its 3-to-2 September 19,
2006 decision, Matter of Simone D. (Anonymous), affirmed the lower
court, with a strong dissent by two justices.

The trial court’s order had authorized the administration of up to 30
shock treatments over a period of six months, with the frequency to be
determined by the hospital’s “ECT team.” Simone D. previously had been
given at least 148 shock treatments over her objection by Creedmoor
under previous court orders.

The testimony of the hospital psychiatrist before the hearing court had
established that previous shock treatment had neither brought about a
remission of Simone D.’s depression nor restored her capacity to make
her own treatment decisions, that the claimed benefits always
dissipated upon the discontinuation of shock, and that the treatment had
never brought Simone D. to a condition where Creedmoor was willing to
discharge her to the community. At the conclusion of that doctor’s
testimony she was asked:

Do you have any hope to offer Simone [D.] . . . other than a lifetime of
court ordered electroshock treatment and depression at . . .
Creedmoor Psychiatric Center?

The doctor answered:

I don‚t have, at this particular time, I don‚t have anything else to
offer her.

Cross examination of the doctor also revealed that shock treatment was
discontinued in 1996, due to a frontal organic brain syndrome secondary
to ECT.

The court severely limited the cross examination of the Creedmoor
psychiatrist by Simone D.’s MHLS attorney, disallowing many questions
about the nature of shock treatment and its effect. For example, when
the doctor was questioned about the nature of grand mal seizures and
epilepsy, objections from the hospital’s attorney were sustained and the
court stated that it was “familiar with that”. At another point, in
precluding questioning about shock treatment, the judge declared, “The
court is familiar with how it is done”.

The court also denied MHLS’s repeated requests that an independent
psychiatrist be appointed to assess the desirability of giving Simone D.
further shock treatment.

The Appellate Division’s majority decision ruled that the trial court
“did not improperly curtail the cross-examination” of the hospital
psychiatrist, noting that the cross-examination covered 44 pages of the
hearing transcript while the direct examination took only 13 pages. The
three appellate justices also rejected MHLS’s argument that the hearing
judge improperly relied upon his own presumed knowledge of shock
treatment. Finally, the panel found the denial of the application for
the appointment of an independent psychiatrist to be a proper exercise
of the court’s discretion.

The two dissenting justices argued that the trial judge “prevented
Simone D. from making a record that could be reviewed on appeal and
instead became a silent witness relying on its own knowledge of ECT.”
The dissent found that to be reversible error, “particularly because of
the extensive course of ECT treatments to which Simone D. has been
subjected since 1995 without long-range benefit.”

Since the Appellate Division decision was 3 to 2, and the ruling was on
points of law and not just on the facts, Simone D. may appeal to the
state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, as a matter of right. The
Appellate Division had earlier stayed enforcement of the forced shock
order pending appeal, and that stay will remain in effect while the
decision is appealed to the high court.

While we are disappointed with the outcome of our first level appeal, we
believe that Simone D. has a very strong case, and we are encouraged by
the forceful dissent. We hope that, with the support of one or more
briefs from friends of the court, we will ultimately prevail.

New York Supreme Court affirms forced shock ruling

[*1] In the Matter of Simone D. (Anonymous), appellant; Kathleen Iverson, etc., respondent.

2005-11405, (Index No. 501166/05)


2006 NY Slip Op 6574; 2006 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 10885

September 19, 2006, Decided


COUNSEL: Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Mineola, N.Y. (Kim L. Darrow and Dennis B. Feld of counsel), for appellant.

Eliot Spitzer, Attorney-General, New York, N.Y. (Michael S. Belohlavek and Patrick J. Walsh of counsel), for respondent.




In a proceeding for permission to administer electroconvulsive therapy to a patient without her consent, the patient appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Rosengarten, J.), dated November 29, 2005, which, after a hearing, granted the petition.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, without costs or disbursements.

In the instant petition, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center (hereinafter Creedmoor) seeks permission to administer electroconvulsive therapy (hereinafter ECT) to the appellant without [**2] her consent. At a hearing held on the petition, Dr. Ella Brodsky, a licensed psychiatrist and the person who administers the ECT at Creedmoor, testified that the appellant suffers from a “major depressive disorder, severe, with chronic features” and was incapable of making decisions regarding her own treatment. In fact, Dr. Brodsky asserted that during a meeting to discuss treatment, at which the appellant, her Spanish-speaking attorney, Dr. Brodsky, and the treatment team were present, the appellant refused to respond or even make eye contact. Dr. Brodsky testified that, although the appellant had benefitted from ECT in the past, such treatments had ceased and the appellant had “decompensated,” i.e., she had become withdrawn, mute, and nonparticipatory, and spent most of her time in a corner in a fetal position. Further, the appellant was not eating properly and had become aggressive and assaultive toward the staff and her fellow patients. Dr. Brodsky noted that [*2] on a prior occasion, the appellant needed to be fed through a tube, which was a “drastic remedy.” By contrast, Dr. Brodsky testified that after the completion of the last course of 30 ECT treatments, the appellant [**3] had gained weight, was eating, drinking, and interacting with others, and “was not aggressive or assaultive at all.” Dr. Brodsky noted that the appellant would be carefully monitored during the administration of ECT to determine her blood pressure, her EKG, her EEG, and her “mini-mental status.” Dr. Brodsky further testified that many other forms of treatment had been tried and failed, including an extensive course of drug therapy, and that ECT was the least restrictive, clinically appropriate treatment for the appellant available at this time. She added, “[w]e don’t have any other choices.”

On cross-examination, counsel for the appellant questioned Dr. Brodsky concerning ECT treatments administered to the appellant in 1995 and 1996 in an effort to demonstrate that the appellant had suffered possible brain damage from those treatments. Dr. Brodsky testified that she had not reviewed the appellant’s ECT records for that time period. She stated that she did not need to review the “old records” because medical assessments were updated so that she could “find everything in the current record, whatever is important for an ECT.” Dr. Brodsky added that the appellant was “regularly” receiving [**4] ECT since 1996. Thus, she opined that what occurred in 1996 was not relevant in assessing the appellant’s current condition.

Counsel also questioned Dr. Brodsky concerning a variety of potential risks involved in the administration of ECT, including whether increases in blood pressure during treatment could induce hemorrhages in the brain, whether treatment could rupture the blood/brain barrier, how the amount of electric current used is determined, the risks of the anesthesia used during the treatments, and whether the patient feels pain during the treatment.

Based on this record, the petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence that the appellant lacked the capacity to make a reasoned decision with respect to the proposed treatment and that the proposed treatment was narrowly tailored to give substantive effect to her liberty interest (see Rivers v Katz, 67 N.Y.2d 485, 497-498; Matter of Adam S., 285 A.D.2d 175, 178-179; Matter of Mausner v William E., 264 A.D.2d 485; Matter of Adele S. v Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, 149 A.D.2d 424, 424-425).

Contrary to our dissenting colleagues’ view, the Supreme [**5] Court did not improperly curtail the cross-examination of Dr. Brodsky. The nature and extent of cross-examination are matters within the trial court’s sound discretion (see People v Rodriguez, 2 AD3d 464; People v Ayala, 280 A.D.2d 552). Respectfully, the dissent focuses only on certain selectively chosen portions of the cross-examination. When the cross-examination is viewed as a whole and properly analyzed in context, it is clear that the appellant’s counsel was permitted extensive questioning on all relevant areas to be considered under Rivers v Katz (supra). Indeed, while the direct examination of Dr. Brodsky encompassed only 13 pages of the hearing transcript, the cross-examination covered 44 pages.

Moreover, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in denying the appellant’s application for the appointment of an independent psychiatric expert. While a court “may” appoint an independent psychiatric expert (Judiciary Law ß 35[4]), here, an independent expert had already examined the appellant. Thus, the court’s determination that “another [expert] opinion would not be necessary” was entirely proper. [**6] [*3]

We disagree with our dissenting colleagues’ assertions that the court relied upon its own knowledge in reaching its determination. There is no indication in the record that the court based its decision on its own knowledge or became an unsworn witness. To the contrary, the court’s determination is amply supported by the medical evidence presented, including the evidence elicited by the appellant’s counsel during cross-examination.

The dissent’s statement that the appellant has been subjected to an “extensive course” of ECT without “long-range benefit” is incorrect. The benefits to the appellant herein are crystal clear. As Dr. Brodsky recognized, although the appellant may not achieve remission, the treatment has improved her quality of life. Namely, with the treatment, she will not remain in a fetal position, she will eat, interact, and not pose a danger to herself or others. These positive responses to ECT cannot be dismissed or ignored.

Accordingly, under the circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court properly authorized the administration of ECT.



DISSENT: CRANE, J.P., dissents and votes to reverse [**7] the order and remit the matter to the Supreme Court, Queens County, for a hearing before a different Justice to consider the issues anew upon taking testimony and, if it deemed it appropriate, after assigning an independent expert to conduct a psychiatric examination and report relevant recommendations, with the following memorandum, in which GOLDSTEIN, J., concurs:

This is a proceeding pursuant to Rivers v Katz (67 N.Y.2d 485) to determine whether the respondent, Simone D., has the mental capacity to withhold her consent to electroconvulsive therapy (hereinafter ECT).

Simone D. was first admitted to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in 1994 and suffers from a severe depressive disorder. Since 1995, she has undergone, over her objection but pursuant to previous court orders, at least 148 ECT treatments. Prior efforts to help her with medication failed to improve her condition. After two unsuccessful applications in July and September 2005 for permission to administer ECT to Simone D., the petitioner applied again in November 2005. The petition and supporting papers showed that without ECT Simone D. becomes depressed, stops eating and drinking, and requires nasogastric [**8] tube feeding. Allegedly, the ECT will diminish her assaultive behavior, enable her to eat, enhance self-care, and promote her ability to socialize.

At a hearing on the petition, the court rejected the request of Simone D.’s counsel that it appoint an independent psychiatrist. The petitioner called one of its psychiatrists, Dr. Ella Brodsky, who opined that Simone D. lacked the capacity to make a reasoned treatment decision and that ECT is the least restrictive alternative because there is no other choice.

Trying to undermine Dr. Brodsky’s opinion, Simone D.’s counsel cross-examined Dr. Brodsky extensively. Simone D. claimed that ECT inflicted pain on her. So, counsel tried to focus on the pain a patient undergoing ECT might suffer. On a prior petition that did not result in court-ordered ECT, Simone D. had been examined by an independent expert who suggested the alternative [*4] of psychotherapy with a Spanish-speaking therapist. This therapy was tried, but for only a few weeks. In an effort to show that this alternative to ECT deserved a longer testing period, Simone D.’s counsel attempted to cross-examine Dr. Brodsky on this subject. In addition, Simone D. had experienced [**9] cognitive impairment from ECT, resulting in its discontinuance in 1996. Her attorney, therefore, tried to cross-examine Dr. Brodsky on the extensive course of ECT administered to his client over the years without permanent improvement.

When Simone D.’s counsel tried to ask questions about the physical pain ECT causes, and also about grand mal seizure, the court interceded and proclaimed that it was familiar with the workings of ECT. When counsel sought to elicit information about hemorrhages and the rupture of the blood/brain barrier caused by ECT, the court sustained the petitioner’s objections. Likewise, the court thwarted counsel when he inquired about the dosage and duration of ECT, the Food and Drug Administration risk classification of ECT machines, and the identification of succinylcholine. These were but a few of the limitations the court placed on counsel as he attempted to show that Simone D. should not be forced yet again to undergo ECT.At the conclusion of Dr. Brodsky’s testimony, Simone D. renewed her application for an independent examination. The court denied the application as unnecessary. After closing arguments, the court found that it was in Simone D.’s best interest [**10] to administer ECT even though it acknowledged that she would probably never “get better”: “she perhaps could die. Perhaps she wants to die. But that’s not for us to determine. We must prevent her from dying.”

The court prevented Simone D. from making a record that could be reviewed on appeal and instead became a silent witness relying on its own knowledge of ECT. The appellant, therefore, was unable to demonstrate the side effects of ECT, the risks of this course of treatment, and the potential alternatives that may be available. This was error in the circumstances of this case, particularly because of the extensive course of ECT treatments to which Simone D. has been subjected since 1995 without long-range benefit.

The court’s reliance on its own knowledge was error in three respects. First, it violates the rule prohibiting a judge from considering, absent the parties’ consent, facts outside the record (see Silberman v Antar, 236 A.D.2d 385 ["(t)he court improperly gave great weight to its own knowledge, based on personal observation of certain facts"]; People v Weiss, 19 A.D.2d 900; People v Lawrence, 19 A.D.2d 899; People v Dow, 3 A.D.2d 979; [**11] Prince, Richardson on Evidence ß 2-205 [Farrell 11th ed]).

Second, the court became an unsworn witness whose “knowledge” of the “facts” and the basis those “facts” form for his conclusion was never scrutinized or tested by cross-examination (see e.g. People v Jie Mei Chen, 26 AD3d 344, 345; People v Dow, supra at 980).

Third, the details of the knowledge possessed by the court are not memorialized in the transcript, thus depriving all appellate courts of the ability to review the entire record and evaluate whether the petitioner has sustained its burden, in this case, by clear and convincing evidence (see Judiciary Law ß 295; People v Harrison, 85 N.Y.2d 794, 795-796; Rivers v Katz, supra at 498; People v Degondea, 256 A.D.2d 39, 41 ["defendant was effectively thwarted from creating an adequate record for appellate review"]; People v Robinson, 209 A.D.2d 648, 649). Put simply, there is no way to determine whether the petitioner met its burden because much of the evidence was [*5] contained only in the court’s mind. [**12]For these reasons, I respectfully dissent and would reverse the order and remit the matter to the Supreme Court, Queens County, for a hearing before a different Justice (see People v Jie Mei Chen, supra; People v Dow, supra) to consider the issues anew upon taking testimony and, if it deemed it appropriate, after assigning an independent expert to conduct a psychiatric examination and report relevant recommendations.

Psychiatrist must pay $55,000 after sex abuse case

Tuesday August 29, 2006

By Martin Johnston

New Zealand Herald

Former New Zealand psychiatrist Dr Selwyn Leeks has been ordered to pay $55,000 in damages for sexually abusing a former patient.

The payment was ordered by an Australian court which found that Dr Leeks “took advantage … of a disturbed psychiatric patient”.

The 77-year-old is also being investigated by New Zealand police over claims by former child and youth patients that he abused them at Lake Alice Hospital near Wanganui in the 1970s.

He escaped a potentially damning disciplinary hearing before the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria last month by effectively surrendering his medical licence in return for the case being shelved.

A five-year investigation into complaints from 50 former Lake Alice patients found a case of unprofessional conduct to answer in 16 of them.

Dr Leeks, who left New Zealand in the late 1970s, is accused of punishing patients with electric shock therapy.

The sexual abuse claim was heard as a civil case in the Victoria County Court.

Judge Jim Duggan said in his verdict: “I conclude that a senior and well-credentialled psychiatrist took advantage of the vulnerability of a disturbed psychiatric patient for the purposes of sexual gratification.”

He awarded the woman $55,000 damages.

Dr Leeks said he had no recollection of the woman, and denied any sexual impropriety.

The Australian woman, who has had depression and anxiety and is now aged 54, claimed Dr Leeks fondled her breasts and put his finger into her vagina during consultations in 1979 or 1980.

She said that when she stopped her visits, he urged her not to disclose what he had done, telling her: “You’re a long-term psychiatric patient and no one will believe you.”

The judge said she made complaints to the police and the medical board, but “these were not taken any further”.

The board’s spokeswoman said yesterday its investigation had been halted by the court case, but it would now consider the judge’s ruling in deciding what action to take.

Steve Green, executive director of the anti-psychiatry group Citizens Commission on Human Rights NZ, said Judge Duggan’s ruling was the first public, official finding of wrongdoing by Dr Leeks. Mr Green said his group was helping 10 more former patients prepare complaints.

The Government has apologised to 183 former Lake Alice patients and paid them $10.7 million compensation.

New Zealand woman wins against abusive shock doc

Patient abused by Leeks awarded $A55,000

Wanganui Chronicle

A VICTORIAN County Court judge last week awarded a woman $A55,000 in damages after finding that psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks had taken advantage of her for his sexual gratification.

The woman was a psychiatric patient, The Melbourne Age reported.

Dr Leeks headed the Child and Adolescent Unit at Lake Alice Hospital, near Bulls, from 1972-77.

Australian judge Jim Duggan said the controversial doctor’s behaviour was reprehensible and a gross dereliction of duty.

The patient, whose history includes physical and sexual abuse and psychiatric illnesses, saw Dr Leeks about eight times in 1979 or 1980.

During the consultations, which became increasingly more sexual, he fondled her breasts and digitally penetrated her.

Dr Leeks claimed he had no recollection of the woman and denied any sexual impropriety.

But Judge Duggan said: “… this was a most serious series of assaults.

“The defendant grossly abused his position and took advantage of a particularly vulnerable patient.”

Dr Leeks, 77, recently undertook not to practise any more, avoiding an inquiry by the state’s medical board into allegations that he had used electric shock treatment to punish children and adolescents in New Zealand in the 1970s.

The board had been investigating the electric-shock allegations for seven years.

But after Dr Leeks promised to give up practising on the eve of a board hearing last month, the board wrote to 16 New Zealand complainants saying it had decided not to proceed with a formal hearing into his professional conduct.


Former Wanganui man Victor Boyd said the Australian finding against Dr Leeks was further evidence that what he was doing at Lake Alice Hospital in the 1970s was not medicine. Mr Boyd now lives in Auckland and is a researcher for the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, an organisation started by the Church of Scientology which investigates mental health treatments.

“The judge believed one of his former victims,” Mr Boyd said.

“What she said was taken seriously. It’s the first time that has happened.

“It’s a pity New Zealand authorities didn’t do a proper investigation in 1977. Instead he went off to Australia with a certificate of good standing from the Medical Council.”

New Zealand police were still interviewing some of Dr Leeks’ patients from the 1970s, and the cases of 34 of them are being reviewed. As a result, the psychiatrist may eventually be extradited to New Zealand to face charges. One former New Zealand patient has made allegations of sexual misconduct, but the bulk of New Zealand complaints are to do with physical abuses.

Cyberonics involved in med journal scandal

NEWS Journal editor quits in conflict scandal

Neuropsychopharmacology’s chief steps down after a paper
he co-authored omitted significant financial disclosures

By Stephen Pincock

[Published 28th August 2006 05:28 PM GMT]

The editor of a leading psychiatry journal announced last Friday (August 25) that he was stepping down after he published a paper about a treatment for depression without disclosing that eight of nine authors–including himself–had financial ties to the company that makes the device.

Charles B. Nemeroff, editor in chief of Neuropsychopharmacology, a publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), will not serve another term as editor, the college told its members in an Email. The decision was made “in part, based on the recent adverse publicity to the journal and the ACNP,” the Email said.

That publicity arose after the journal’s July issue carried a positive review of a vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device made by Cyberonics, Inc, of Houston, Texas. Nemeroff was the lead author for the paper, which described VNS as a “promising and well-tolerated intervention that is effective in a subset of patients with treatment-resistant depression.”

The article acknowledged funding from Cyberonics, and listed coauthor Stephen Brannan as an employee of Cyberonics. But it did not reveal that the eight other academic co-authors were all consultants for the firm.

The story, one of several recent conflict-of-interest cases, first made news in July, prompting the journal to print a correction

This isn’t the first time that Nemeroff has hit the headlines for undisclosed financial ties. In 2003, a review he coauthored in Nature Neuroscience neglected to mention significant financial interests in three therapies that were reviewed favorably (including owning the patent on one of the treatments), prompting the Nature Publishing Group to widen its disclosure policies. At the time, Nemeroff and his co-author Michael Owens said: “Going forward, we intend to provide all financial disclosure information, even if it is not requested by the journal editor.”

Clare Stanford, past president of the British Association for Psychopharmacology and an editor at several journals in the field, said Nemeroff was an influential researcher in his field who was unlikely to have been swayed by the Cyberonics money.

“I don’t believe for a minute that the fact the paper was funded by a company would have influenced his conclusions,” she told The Scientist. “It is unfortunate that he has had to stand down over this incident which is largely a reflection of the scientific community’s paranoia rather than any failing of his professional integrity.”

Not everyone shares her view, however. In a blog entry posted earlier this month on the Health Care Renewal blogspot, Bernard Carroll, scientific director of the Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation, called the incident a “slick, coordinated, public relations-disinformation campaign in which ACNP and its journal were exploited by paid consultants of the corporation.”

Nemeroff, chairman of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine, told The Scientist in an Email that the financial disclosures of all authors were submitted to the journal, but due to an “oversight,” were not included in the print version. “There was absolutely no intent to withhold any information concerning financial disclosures.”

He added that he has served as the journal’s chief editor for five years, during which time the journal has “improved in all objective indices including manuscripts submitted, ISI rankings … I feel that we have accomplished our goals and I have opted not to accept the ACNP Council’s invitation to serve another three years.”

The group Alliance for Human Research Protection, meanwhile, has raised concerns that a professional writer paid by Cyberonics wrote the first draft of the paper. The writer was not listed as an author but was thanked in the acknowledgements.

Ronnie Wilkins, executive director of ACNP, told The Scientist that Nemeroff would serve out the rest of his current term as editor in chief, which ends in December. Earlier this year, he had been voted in for another term.

Meanwhile, the college wants to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again, Wilkins said. “The council met on August 23 … and one of the things we asked the publication committee was to look at our policies and procedures to make sure that we have a checklist to avoid this kind of oversight happening again,” he said.

Stephen Pincock

Links within this article

Charles B. Nemeroff


American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

C. Nemeroff, et al, “VNS Therapy in Treatment-Resistant Depression: Clinical Evidence and Putative Neurobiological Mechanisms,” Neuropsychopharmacology (2006) 31, 1345-1355.
PM_ID: 16880768


A. McCook, “Conflicts of interest at Federal agencies,” The Scientist, July 24, 2006.

D. Armstrong, “Medical Reviews Face Criticism Over Lapses,” Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2006.

B. Carey, “Correcting the errors of disclosure,” New York Times, July 25, 2006.

“Corrigendum: VNS Therapy in Treatment-Resistant Depression: Clinical Evidence and Putative Neurobiological Mechanisms,” Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 31 July 2006; doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301190

S. Pincock, “Full disclosure?” The Scientist, October 1, 2003.

Clare Stanford

B. Carroll, “Money and Medical Journals,” Health Care Renewal, August 8, 2006.

“ACNP journal editor quits amid exposure of conflicts of interest,” AHRP, August 27, 2006. the authors had submitted disclosures in accordance to journal policy, but that the information simply had not been included in the acknowledgement section of the published paper.

Harold Sackeim Mecta deposition video clips

Here are a number of clips from the videotaped deposition of Harold Sackeim (2004). Sackeim was the expert witness for Mecta in a lawsuit in California.

You can read most of the deposition here, in PDF format.

I’m splitting the videos into two pages to reduce your load. If the page loads slowly, or the videos don’t load, try again in thirty minutes…it’s likely YouTube is down.

Richard Abrams is defensive, says Harold Sackeim

Harold Sackeim, king of ECT, discusses his complaints about Richard Abrams, president of Somatics, Inc., saying that Abrams is defensive because of the “fascist” groups, and goes too far with his defensiveness by ignoring the “problems” inherent with ECT. Meow!

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Harold Sackeim tells NY Assemblyman Rivera he “discarded” requests

After making a public offer to evaluate individuals with damage after ECT, Sackeim explains that he told the NY Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx) he discarded the responses. They “spent the day” together. How cozy. Rivera is head of the New York Committee on Mental Health. Harold has more than one cozy relationship, and it’s paid off in a big way for him.

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Killroy was here

An endorsement? No, but Harold admits he’s been here. Everyone, please, a warm welcome to the Lord of the Dance, Harold Sackeim.

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He’s said it, very clearly

Very emphatically: “I don’t dispute that there are some people who have very severe memory loss. I’ve been the one who’s been saying that very clearly.”

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2 million people?

“Uh, what I do know is that probably about 2 million people are receive ECT each year…” When questioned by the attorney asking if he “knows” that, Harold backpedals and says he said “estimate.” A few years ago he told Extra it was a million. I guess that Cyberonics VNS device isn’t working out so well.

Perhaps saying “I do know” and then claiming he said “estimate” is being a tad picky. But consider that this seems to be a habit with him: reinventing himself, parading himself as the champion of the shock patient by criticizing “Dick” Abrams, and claiming he’s a purist scientist, even when he admits statistics were not genuine statistics as claimed, but merely a guesstimate. Since the long-held guess of how many Americans receive ECT annually is 100,000 to 200,000 (usually quoted as 100,000 in the media), where on earth did he get this 2 million figure for the world?

Oh, it’s an estimate. He made it up.

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Follow the money…

Here’s something he can’t make up, because there’s a paper trail. He billed Mecta for $10,875 for pretrial consulting. And that was *before* the trial, or even this deposition, took place. No telling what the final bill will be! His rate is $500 an hour to help Mecta defend against a lawsuit. Notice how he refuses to say the amount, instead, referring to the “rate that’s there.” For whatever reason, Harold Sackeim cannot say the words “I charge $500 an hour.”

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Part 2 of the video deposition