Shock treatment survivor continues to speak out|
By Marlene Deschamps
The Westend Weekly
May 16, 2001
Some time back the Westend Weekly published a story about Wayne Lax. He is anti electro shock and has joined a growing world wide group who are trying to get the practice banned. There are conflicting attitudes toward these treatments. Most of the doctors (but not all) still insist it is effective and not barbaric.
The patients who have received these treatments, again with exceptions, say they have lost years of their lives, have long lasting or permanent memory loss and want it stopped. Wayne, along with many others take every chance to speak with anyone who will listen and give their accounts of horrible ordeals some encounter.
Wayne has had his story published in many periodicals and newsletters. He was interviewed extensively by the BBC both for booklets and for an upcoming documentary which will be shown at a future date. The London, England based BBC has interviewed people from all over the world in regards to shock treatments and the lasting effect they have. Wayne was so angry when he recovered that he used his anger to try and help others. He has lawsuits against doctors in Kenora and Thunder Bay which are still pending.
Despite the fact that these doctors said he would never be able to live on his own he now sits on the Board of Directors for Changes Recovery Homes, Kenora; a regional representative for the Northwest Ontario Patient Council and is a member of Sunset Country Psychiatric Survivors, The Association for Community Living, People Advocation for Change and Empowerment and many other associations that deal with good mental health. He was in Fort Frances last week for Mental Health Week
Wayne maintains there are reasons for people taking medication and he does recognize there are some very good psychiatrists, but the use of shock treatment in combination with powerful drugs is not the answer for some of the problems. He has a real concern for the fact that many facilities for patients with mental disorders are being closed or amalgamated. He is afraid the inexpensive use of shock treatments will increase to maintain compliance enabling institutions and hospitals to discharge these patients sooner.
He asked if the big new super jails the Province is building might end up warehousing former mental patients. He cited a statistic where women and the elderly, particularly elderly women, have been the prime targets of electroshock. In Canada and the USA, approximately 70% of shock survivors are women. 45% -50% are over 60 years old and several are 80 years and older. Although psychiatrists claim that depression or "clinical depression" is the main indication to administer electro-shock, people with other conditions such as anxiety, mania, post-partum depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia and dementia have also undergone electroshock.
Wayne's story is included in a new book by Scott Simmie, "The Last Taboo," a collection of stories by the famed journalist who was featured in a documentary for the CBC. This book may be available at the local Library soon. There are other books on the subject such its Remembrance of Patients Past by Geoffrey Reaume, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in his teens and is himself a former psychiatric patient. Mr. Reaume is a Hannah post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto. You can get his book from the 0xford University Press 416-441-2941 ext 2900 or visit the web site www.oupcan.com. Another book which I have read is Wendy Funk's "What Difference Does it Make." This was the answer she got from her doctor when she told him the shock treatments were robbing her of her past.
Wayne had with him a plaque he received recently. It is the "Courage to Come Back Award," given by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health Foundation. The Honorary Chair, Silken Laumann, is the Olympian who displayed courage to come back in the Olympics. She states, "your extraordinary courage is an inspiration to us all." He was nominated for this award by his sister, Joyce Roller of Thunder Bay. Joyce is one of the people who stood by Wayne and supported his fight to get well.
Wayne is very busy these days, traveling to speak and meet with anyone that needs and wants his help. It is what continues to make him well. He is also busy trying to piece together his past with the help of his records and recollections of his family and patients of the facility he formerly was admitted to. With over 100 admissions he has a lot of people to talk to.