INVOLUNTARY ELECTROSHOCK IN NEW YORK STATE

www.MindFreedom.org DENDRITE — December 6, 2000

COPY & POST to appropriate places on & off Internet:
NEWS ALERT: human rights & “mental health system.”
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INVOLUNTARY ELECTROSHOCK IN NEW YORK STATE:

A 25-YEAR-OLD MAN IS SLATED TO RECEIVE FORCED
ELECTROSHOCK AT PILGRIM PSYCHIATRIC CENTER

HIS SISTER SAYS, “OUR WHOLE FAMILY IS AGAINST
FORCING ELECTROSHOCK ON MY BROTHER. WE HOPE
THE PUBLIC WILL SPEAK OUT.”

LONG ISLAND, NY — Adam Szyszko may receive
electroshock against his expressed wishes any day
now at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. And his family
is asking the public to help defend his rights.

Because psychiatric drugs had been so harmful for
Adam, his psychiatrist wanted to give him
electroshock. Adam said “no.” So Pilgrim Psychiatric
Center took Adam, who is 25 years old, to court to
get a judge’s order allowing forced electroshock
against his will. His family said Adam was so poorly
represented at the hearing that no independent
expert was called to testify and Adam’s own attorney
endorsed electroshock within earshot of the judge.

On November 22, 2000, the judge signed the order
that Adam may be forcibly electroshocked. A new
attorney is now filing an appeal, but in the
meantime Adam’s best chance may be in the court of
public opinion.

Anna Szyszko is Adam’s sister. She told Support
Coalition that the whole family opposes the planned
involuntary electroshock of Adam. Anna said, “I just
think we can try other things instead of doing
something so drastic as forced electroshock. There
are so many worthwhile things that could be tried.”

Anna said that public interest in her family’s
plight is finally giving her hope: “After the
hearing I felt so helpless because it seemed like
everything was stacked against us. I can’t believe
there’s a chance to help him. I hope the public will
speak out.” [More info on Adam's campaign at bottom.]

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ACTION NOW * * * ACTION NOW * * * ACTION NOW

PLEASE E-MAIL A CIVIL MESSAGE TO THESE
THREE NEW YORK GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS:

1. Governor George E. Pataki
2. OMH Commissioner James L. Stone
3. Pilgrim Executive Director Alan Weinstock

E-mail addresses: gov.pataki@chamber.state.ny.us,
lrademacher@omh.state.ny.us,
pgdoamw@gw.omh.state.ny.us

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

To: Gov. Pataki, Commissioner Stone, Pilgrim Director Weinstock:

Stop the plans for forced electroshock of Adam Szyszko at
Pilgrim Psychiatric Center. This electroshock would be
against his wishes, and against the wishes of his family.
Electroshock can cause brain damage, including permanent
memory loss and learning disabilities. There are more humane
and effective alternatives. Please respond to this message.

Signed: [Your name & contact info.]

Optional: Copy your message to Support Coalition at
. Support Coalition
will keep the family informed about public support.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CAMPAIGN TO
STOP THE FORCED ELECTROSHOCK OF ADAM

Adam Szyszko is locked up in Pilgrim Psychiatric Center.
Pilgrim Psychiatric Center was in the public eye
earlier this year. _Newsday_ reported on July 10,
2000 that, “State and national oversight agencies
are investigating recent incidents at Pilgrim State
Psychiatric Center to determine whether three
patients who died Easter weekend and a fourth who is
now paralyzed from the neck down received adequate
medical care and whether their tragic outcomes could
have been prevented.”
See http://mindfreedom.org/RelatedNews/index.html

Who is responsible for policy about forced electroshock
at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center? Good question!

The executive director of the troubled Pilgrim
Psychiatric Center is Alan Weinstock. In an
interview he told Support Coalition, “We don’t
usually discuss the forms of treatment that are used
here at the facility. We have used shock, obviously.
But I don’t really have a position on involuntary
electroshock. Pilgrim Psychiatric Center is one of
28 state psychiatric facilities under the NY Office
of Mental Health in Albany. I’m an administrator,
not a clinician. I have a clinical staff and
clinical director and licensed psychiatrists who I
entrust with the care and treatment of my patients.
We have a consumer council here at the hospital and
I meet with them myself. We support consumer
empowerment. But clinical direction comes from
Central Office in Albany. We do not engage in
clinical activity that hasn’t been directed to us
from Central Office. I’m not familiar with the state
policy on involuntary electroshock. Now that you have
raised my attention I’m going to absolutely take a
look at it.”

The NY Office of Mental Health (OMH) must have a
policy about forced shock, because an attorney
specializing in New York mental health law, speaking
off the record, guestimated that nearly every month
there might be one or two involuntary electroshocks in
the New York state mental health system, using
similar court orders. Ironically, OMH’s web site
states OMH’s values and priorities include, “Recovery
is the process of gaining control over one’s life…
Respect is esteem for the worth of a person including
recognition of dignity, diversity and cultural
differences… Safety is an environment free from
hurt, injury or danger… Individualized service
plans are designed around the needs and desires of
an individual.” See: http://www.omh.state.ny.us/

What’s unique about Adam’s situation is that the
family is speaking out against the forced shock and
the public is finding out about it. When fighting similar
instances of forced electroshock in Wisconsin, Illinois,
California, Missouri and Wisconsin, Support Coalition
activists have seen intense public interest. Because of
such human rights violations, the Presidents National Council
on Disability has even recommended phasing out
electroshock. See the NCD Core Recommendations:

http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/privileges.html#exe

For more information about electroshock, also see:

http://www.ect.org

http://www.breggin.com/electroshock.html

http://mindfreedom.org/electroshock/electroshock_node.html

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Additional action: You can also write, fax & phone the
three decision-makers individually with civil messages:

1. Governor George E. Pataki
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Telephone: (518) 474-8390,
Fax: (518) 473-7669
E-mail:

2. OMH Commissioner James L. Stone, MSW, CSW
New York State Office of Mental Health
44 Holland Avenue
Albany, New York 12229

Telephone: (518) 474-4403
Fax: (518) 474-2149
E-mail:

3. Alan Weinstock, Executive Director
Pilgrim Psychiatric Center
998 Crooked Hill Road
West Brentwood, NY 11717-1087

Telephone: (631) 761-2609
Fax: (631) 761-2600
E-mail:

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Or e-mail: office@MindFreedom.org. Donations tax deductible.

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