Former patient still suffering

USA Today Series

Former patient still suffering

Delores McQueen of Lincoln, Calif., received shock treatment in 1993 at CPC Heritage Oaks Hospital in Sacramento. Her bill: $18,000.

“I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had done any good,” says McQueen, who still suffers from deep depression.

McQueen, who has fought depression much of her life, suffered a relapse after her sister died. She was hospitalized and even slashed her wrists in a suicide attempt.

Her psychiatrist recommended shock therapy. She received more than 20 shocks.

McQueen says shock destroyed large parts of her memory:

She couldn’t remember the names of her children.

She got lost driving once-familiar hometown streets.

She forgot how to ride horses, which she’d once trained and showed.

She couldn’t remember family hunting and fishing trips.

She didn’t know who her old friends were, even when they greeted her at the mall.

She couldn’t remember information she’d just read.

“I was assured the problem was short-term, but my memory hasn’t come back. I’m convinced now that it’s gone for good,” she says.

Doctors told her that depression was responsible for the memory loss. “But I’ve had depression for a long time and hadn’t had memory problems,” McQueen says.

After leaving the hospital, McQueen kept getting shock treatment. The treatment was leaving her confused. She also doubted it was helping her depression. But she was reluctant to go against her doctor’s recommendation.

With her church group, she prayed for God to tell her whether to keep getting shocks.

In November 1993, the hospital called to postpone a treatment.

“I took that as a sign from God,” she says. “When they called to reschedule, I said, `No more.’”

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

Comments (5)

christine mothersellJanuary 22nd, 2007 at 5:46 pm

I am 54 years old and had EST in 1969 as a teenager, involuntarily under the hand of Dr. Harvey Hammer at Morristown Memorial Hosp, N.J. It is sad to say it was in a wing filled with teenagers who all unvoluntarily were going through it as well.

To this day, I still have side effects. Strobes, put me in a migrane and seizure. I have to be careful where I sit in a restaurant if there is an overhead fan, making strobe effects on the table, or around the room. WHen I drive, I have to careful where the sunlight is in relation to fences, that will make a strobe like effect on the road. :( I can not process forms well, and have friends help me. I still have memory loss.

Who says, these side effects will go away? Doctors? Certainly not, for they don’t. I do compensate fairly ok, but it is constant reminder of the barbaric treatment us teens received. I wonder if I have an legal recourse after all this time? Anyone know?

JoeJanuary 26th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

My mother recently received 7 shock treatments for depression, the first week in the hospital she seemed happy over the phone the second and on she was definatly not herself, she came home and the following day she was shaking and was out of her mind, she said she didnt know what she needs but it feels like she is going nuts, and it feels like shes coming out of her skin. Anyone experienced or had family like this after treatments? what needs to be done?

Larry SilverMay 17th, 2009 at 10:15 pm


I also had many Ect treatments by Dr. Hammer over a period of three months and I beginning to investigate the consequences. Feel free to email me at

Jean BoydMay 29th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I too am still suffering and have been visiting this web site for many years. It is very hard to understand what the exact damage we suffer from shock “therapy”. It is very clear what it did to pigs going to slaughter. I don’t mean to be overly aggressive or angry, I know I have to keep an even keel on this and keep myself grounded all the time. It is not an easy task with the damage that has been done to us. However; I do believe one of the major side effects of shock is passiveness and apathy. Who will believe us and who will take us seriously. That is why it continues and continues. The doctors and the lawyers cannot fight this monster without our help. And most underdogs don’t get up without some strength of their own. And I don’t mean that we cannot help one another. I want a class action suit, I have not figured out how but for once I am going to win along with all of you. The doctors and shock machine corporations count on the fact that we will be so sick and not be able to deal with the horrors of the ordeal. That is why we have lawyers. I already know of a Lawyer’s assistant, what it is called, anyway, she is willing to help. My belief is that all people hurt by shock must stand together in a class action in order to be heard and stop this torchure. Look at Guantanomo and look at what happened with Pan AM FL. 103 over Lockerbee. This will take vigilance and whatever the word is for never give up. Persistence.

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