Dr. Bonnie Burstow: shock is a form of violence against women

Dr. Bonnie Burstow explores electroshock as a form of violence against women. She is a feminist therapist, an anti-psychiatry and anti-fascist activist. She is also the former co-chiar of the Ontario Coalition Against Electroshock and is the author of Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence.

Two versions:
An edited version runs just under 30 minutes and the full speech runs just over 60 minutes.

Listen to an edited version (30 min) or full speech (60 min)

Comments (8)

leia phillipsOctober 6th, 2007 at 10:18 pm

i am 57 years old i was given 2 series of 7 electric shock treatments at cleckley hopsital—it was not because i was depressed or for any other reason than because i ran away from home all the time because my mother burned me with cigarettes and beat me with razor straps (my adopted mother) I have spent my entire life trying to remember what i forgot–i luckily have somewhat come through an awful experience and turned it around. I cannot begin to tell you the pains that have surrounded this for me. I remember waking up once and not knowing how to walk. I remember playing the piano well and after the shock treatments had no idea of how to play. I have been told that the amount that was given to me is illegal. I am blessed to have not become a vegetable. please stop the violence of hurting people. it is barbaric. it took a lot of work to a place that i can even speak about it
i am trying now to write a book about coming out on the otherside of obstacles

Teresa ExumJanuary 8th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I am a friend of Leia Phillips and we have known each other since childhood and I cannot believe the barbaric treatment that she received at Milledgeville. She was just a runaway, not a psychopath. How inhumane to be diagnosed incorrectly or better yet, have doctors who did not give a shit about their patients. I personally abhor this treatment and believe that those who indulged in it will be duly punished one day.

sgetsJuly 11th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

the biggest threat to medical professionals must come from patients not from the law, police, or non associated people in society. that is the only time they will stop. get your records, get the names, and they will never do it again. know where they live. yes it is that serious. they must be held responsible to patients for the work they get paid for by taxes. if they want to live their lives with their medical educations then they should work in another field. very few people with medical educations treat patients for no othe reason than to be able to perscribe medications and perform procedures for their own families. it is sickening to see deeply embedded cultural doctors practicing in clinics where strangers need to have themselves examined. if someone does not understand the helplessness of being subjigated by these people they should get a dog and become familiarized with the medical world through a veterinarian who of course uses veterinary medications and equipments for their own families. if you are sick and you are not a doctor you will die.

sgetsJuly 11th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

i think that this site is alarmist. most shock is life saving and other than that it is used to restrain a violent or legally bound person. the terms “mentally ill” don’t really make sense either.

Susan SilverNovember 22nd, 2009 at 6:47 pm

I was arrested for a DUI. No drugs or alcohol were found,but my behavior is an issue. I was given etc treatments against my will at the age of 11. The docs told me parents that is what I needed. I am now 59,and looking for a therapist who can diagnose PSTD.I live in Campbell Ca. 95008.

Can anyone help.I was feeling tired so I crossed over two lanes to get off the freeway. The officers had no idea who they were questioning. I minute I was tired,the next two police man had to call for backup. Six police officers for a 59 yr old women who weighs 120 pounds. 5’4. Need a therapist,psychiatrist,just need help.
Thank you

JediJuly 16th, 2010 at 2:12 pm


Sadly, it isn’t nearly alarming enough, because if it was, if people understood and the damage that creating a grand ma seizure – a closed head injury- inside of a human beings BRAIN and calling it “therapy” or life saving IS the Madness, is insane. So are the “laws” that support it. Restraining a violent person has NOTHING to do with shocking someone’s brain.
If you read most ethical therapist, like Dr. Breggin, who has worked in the most oppressive back wards of mental hospitals yet he NEVER restrained or medicated a violent patient- they talked to them and calmed them down. He is teaching EMPATHY as an alternative method of meeting violence with greater violence.
All these abusive practices are- in reality- is a group of unskilled, untrained, inhumane bullies exerting their will to control and further damage a weaker beings in crisis. Most of the “violence” in the so called mentally ill population can be directly attributed to the dangerous mind altering drugs given to them. See Dr. Grace Jackson’s Drug-Induced Dementia- a perfect crime, or the numerous cases Breggin has tried in court of spell binding from these drugs. Further review the numerous school shooting incidences where these kids were almost all on psychotropic drugs.
If you get that “mental illness” is a misnomer- based on the FACT that there is NO scientific evidence to support the bio-chemical imbalance theory of any psychiatric label or test to prove it exists (even the president of the APA admits this) then how can you support these brutal, inhumane “treatments” for false diagnoses and erroneous labels that do nothing more that support dr’s getting rich, “undesirable populations being tortured and further harmed with brain damaging drugs and electro shock?
Please keep reading and learning- you are on the right path of understanding the pseudo-science of sickiatry.

David TownsendMarch 27th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Excellent writing until now


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