Personal stories of ECT

Shocking but true
Slavery, rape, arrest. They're all just the ups and downs of life for Michelle Shocked, one of the music world's true survivors.

I forgot giving birth after electric shock treatment
A woman who says she lost her memory after receiving electric shock treatment at Christchurch's Hillmorton Hospital wants the practice outlawed.

Why gay men flee Bangladesh
Bangladesh, with a population of 133 million, is the ninth-largest country in the world, and the second-largest Moslem country in the world after Indonesia. Bangladesh is also a democracy, with a British-style parliamentary system. One of the less pleasant legacies of British rule is Section 377 of the Penal Code, which provides: "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life." The man also reported being raped by police, forced into electroshock treatment and ordered by his family to enter into an arranged marriage.

Improvement's a shock to system
ELECTRO convulsive treatment (ECT) or electric shock therapy, as it was once known, conjures images of cruel doctors holding mentally ill patients down as they fry their brains with electricity. Yet a little delving into the method will lead one to discover that the treatment is commonly used and effective in beating depression. Tania (not her real name) from Mulgrave has suffered from depression for some time and earlier this year reached the lowest point of her life. After trying anti-depressants and spending months in and out of hospital, her doctor suggested she try ECT.

Fighting postpartum depression: Descent into darkness
The mothers are searching for their daughters. They are always searching for their daughters, even though their daughters have been dead for more than a year now.

The Lost Years
"I wanted it ... I begged for it ... I craved it."
He wanted shock treatment - demanded to have volts of electricity charging through his body, convulsing muscles and disrupting brain functioning in an artificially induced seizure. They call it therapy but they admit that they don't even know how it really works. Epileptics are given medication to suppress naturally occurring seizure activity because of potential damage yet psychiatric patients are given electroshock convulsive therapy (ECT) to cause the same effect.

Shock treatment survivor Wayne Lax continues to speak out
Wayne Lax from Kenora is a psychiatric survivor. He spent from the mid 1960s until 1992 in and out of hospitals in Kenora, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. During those hospital stays he was subject to about 80 shock treatments. He was prescribed various medications at various times without any monitoring of the results of those medications. At one point he was on 17 different medications that were supposed to overcome his depression. He was also consuming alcohol on a regular basis.

High as a kite
Wayne Lax shouldn't have been 'flying high' in his taxi - but he was. Lax says he drove cab in Kenora from 1959 till 1986, including much of the period during which he was under medication and receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as shock treatment. Physicians and doctors are required by law to inform the ministry of transportation if they believe a patient is medically or mentally incapable of driving.

Shock therapy hindered recovery
A Kenora man who says he endured almost 25 years of progressive memory loss, coupled with hallucinations and bouts of confusion and depression, thinks he shock treatment he underwent may have contributed to his troubles.

Lax takes to world stage
His story centres on what he believes to be the inappropriate use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or shock treatment. ECT is a recognized psychiatric tool, but it has come under increasing scrutiny as survivor after survivor has come forward to relate personal stories about its often profoundly damaging effect.

Former cabbie on a crusade
Lax who suffered from deep depression and extreme alcoholism after the death of his brother was treated by doctors with two types of medical practises. One involved pharmaceuticals arid the other was electro-shock therapy. At one point he was on 17 different drugs per day and all the while was shock treated 80 times in that period of time. With that in mind one would think that he was incapable of driving and that medical professionals would have notified the Ministry of Transportation of his constant impairment.

People behind the stories
As a psychologist, Theresa, 64, helped countless people cope with mental health problems but never experienced them herself. Until, at age 59, a major depression hit. Her own psychoanalyst dumped her. She just said "can't help you any more, you're too far gone. You're no longer my patient," Theresa says. Theresa's colleagues recognized the symptoms of depression and recommended hospitalization inpatient experience with disdain. "The doctors were very condescending. There was no psychotherapy at all. They didn't believe in that. They only wanted to treat me with drugs."

Speak out against shock
I spent 25 years in a state of confusion and despair. My brother died and I turned to alcohol. I had 108 admissions, and approximately 80 ECT treatments. They were treating me for an addiction; they did this with ECT treatments; the doctors kept giving me more and more medication (every drug under the sun), up to 17 different pills per day. As a result of the shock treatments, I am missing large portions of my memory and suffer chronic severe back pain from not enough relaxants.

Psychiatric Survivor tackles road safety
"I don't want to knock anybody. I want change."

Wayne Lax of Kenora, after 25 years haunted by alcoholism, extensive drug therapy, and more than 80 shock treatments, is now taking a stand against impaired driving. But it's not specifically drinking and driving he has his sights on - Lax said patients taking prescription drugs also pose a hazard on the road.

Comeback story an award winner
Wayne Lax doesn't remember his wedding day. He doesn't remember his suicide attempts. He doesn't even remember much about his son. That's because over a 25-year period he was in hospital 108 times, medicated with up to 17 pills a day, and subject to 80 electroconvulsive shocks.

The terrible legacy of Lake Alice
(New Zealand) In Niuean, the message said: "I have been given electric shock by the people, Mum. The pain is very bad."

Into the Darkness Into the Light
Local patients report radically different effects from electroshock therapy. An extensive article from Newsday.

Shocking Treatment - Electroconvulsive therapy's return stirs debate on use
George Ebert is not certain how many of his memories are missing. He can recall that during a 1971 tour of Ohio with his family, his mental state first began to deteriorate. He recalls hurriedly trying to "cleanse" his life by throwing away most of his belongings, and attempting to hitchhike in the middle of the night from Columbus to Texas with his son in tow on a search for God.

Why I believe ECT is unlawful
Sarah Panton, who was herself given ECT as a patient, explains why she believes the treatment should no longer be used. This was a paper presented at the UK Advocacy Network 2000's annual conference.

Talking about ECT
At Shocked TV, you can view videos of patients discussing their experiences, as well as doctors expressing their views. These are available in the Real Player format. You can get that for on the page.

Making progress
Wendy Funk: Canadian survivor battles to stop controversial therapy

Ruined Lives
Two women share their experiences with ECT, saying it ruins lives.

Family talks about ECT
Told ECT would help their family members, they say it instead left a trail of death and misery.

Ex-patients want end to shock treatment
"Undergoing treatment like being hit by a sledgehammer"

Shocking treatment still torture for some
"It's a hell of a good treatment. If I ever needed to, I'd have it. I'd give it to my wife and parents too."

She was shocked
Electroconvulsive therapy helped to treat her intractable, dangerous depression. But the author was surprised to find out how much of her memory was wiped out.

Quite a bit more on the issue of memory loss in the media section and the legislative section. More personal stories....