Shock Machines – Letter to Editor from Don Weitz

March 31, 2004

Letters Editor
The Toronto Star
fax: 416-869-4322

Dear Editor:

As hi-risk or unsafe medical devices, I call readers’ attention to
electroshock (“ECT”) machines (“Medical devices called risky,” Mar.31).
Auditor-General Sheila Fraser probably did not specifically mention
electroshock machines in her recent audit report on Health Canada. However,
since 1978 the US government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
officially classified these hi-risk machines in “Class-III”, its lowest
approval category which indicates unsafe or high-risk. Nevertheless, Health
Canada hasn’t evenĀ  bothered classifying these machines, it hasn’t bothered
to evaluate or conduct independent tests of their medical safety. Instead,
it hasĀ  routinely relied on the self-serving, biased reports of the
manufacturers (US-based companies Somatics, Mecta). FDA also has refused to
conduct independent medical safety tests, it still relies on manufacturers’
unsubstantiated claims of safety and effectiveness.

In Canada, shock machines are used by hundreds of psychiatrists on
thousands of patients everyday as a so-called “safe, effective and
lifesaving” treatment for “depression”, “bipolar mood disorder” and
“schizophrenia”. Shock machines may be wired to satisfy electrical
engineering standards, but they’ve never been proved medically safe. These
machines deliver an average of 175-200 volts of electricity for 1-2 seconds
during each “treatment”, but they’re capable of delivering as much as 400
volts – at least 2 times the electical energy coming out of your home
electrical outlet! Nevertheless, they’re declared “safe”, “effective”,
even “lifesaving”. Shock machines always cause harm by inflicting brain
damage, permanent memory loss, other intellectual disabilities, and
sometimes death – all scientifically documented facts in the
medical-psychiatric literature for over fifty years.

I personally know of many psychiatric survivors in Canada and the US who
have been permanently traumatized and disabled by “lifesaving” electroshock
and its “safe and effective” engines of destruction. Today the main targets
of electroshock are women and elderly people, especially women over 60,
which means the administration of shock is also sexist and ageist, a form
of elder abuse.

Health Canada claims it’s protecting our health and safety from hi-risk
medical devices. Really? I say prove it – start inspecting these
memory-destroying, brain-disabling machines and publish the reports of your
inspections. These infernal machines should be banned, so should

Don Weitz

Comments (1)

kikMarch 10th, 2017 at 11:51 pm


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