This is our last newsletter for a while. To save the high cost of
overseas postage we decided to E-Mail it (in text format only,'cause we
don't know which graphic-based attachments you could handle).
Tonight we're also closing down our net connection (and thus our
E-Mail) to save funds. We shall, of course, be in touch from time to
time on snailmail, and you can always fax us on 01535 602736.
For now best wishes from us, and you can be assured we shall
continue to battle on against ECT.
Pat & Roy Butterfield.
(Newsletter text follows).
OUR COLLECTIVE STRENGTH -
HOW MUCH LONGER CAN THEY DENY THE GLARING TRUTH?
Over the past eighteen months I have spoken to hundreds of people
who have had Electric Shock Treatment. In addition I have also
received hundreds of letters from ECT victims. These callers and
correspondents cover mainly England, several from Scotland, Wales,
and now finally from Ireland. We also correspond with survivors from
America, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
The one thing that is significant is that these people have never met
before and few of them have had prior knowledge of literature on
Electric Shock damage, but they all ask similar questions. Why do I
feel like I'm a robot? Why do I have no feelings any more? Why am I so
fatigued all the time? Why can't I remember things as I used to. Why
do I feel different, my family say I'm not the same person? Why wasn't
I told about the seriousness of the memory loss? Why was I forced to
have this treatment against my will? Do other people feel as frightened
as me when they have to visit a doctor? This is just a tiny example of
the kind of questions we are asked at ECT Anon.
Some people experience more than one of the above, plus a wide
variety of physical symptoms which can be debilitating. 99% of people
report memory loss of some degree or another, almost all these
survivors feel that they are changed as a person and know they will
never feel the same again. Their families can confirm this too. It seems
that very few of us can hold down jobs, concentrate, make sense of
the world as we once used to. These just seem to be a few of the many
feelings described. There is such a strong link between all of us who
feel damaged that it cannot be denied that we are telling the truth.
Why would we need to lie about how we feel? The denial by some
members of the medical profession of our symptoms is grossly
insulting. They are denying our truth and manipulating their 'cured'
statistics in many devious ways as I hope to unfold in this article.
When we move on to physical symptoms we have reports of the onset
of Epilepsy, Asthma, Neurological problems, chronic fatigue, head
pains, neck problems, back problems, heart problems, digestive
problems, all of which doctors dismiss as being symptomatic of 'our
It's rather strange, isn't it, that we experience these symptoms
collectively? There is so much evidence falling into our laps it is
startling to see. Yet psychiatrists cannot and will not see that there is
a common denominator that links us all: ELECTRIC SHOCKS TO THE
BRAIN. On the rare occasions that individual survivors gain an
unbiased medical examination and have MRI scans to discover the
cause of their mysterious illness, it has been found that brain tissue
has been scarred, in keeping with severe epileptic fits. One neurologist
bravely admitted that it was due to Electric Shock damage. The patient
was then able to claim disability allowance, due to damage caused by
Electric Shock. Yes, there are honest doctors out there, yet many of
them are too afraid to stand up and be counted. Too cosy in their
positions, too protective of their status. Why can't we all of us who
feel damaged demand brain scans, it should be our right, but could we
trust the results?
Would it really be a truly independent assessment? We all know now
about the case of the missing files/records, the illegible handwriting
that many psychiatrist employ to safeguard their incompetence. The
case of the missing records is a joke outworn, that no longer makes
us smile but enrages us.
How much longer have we to wait before we get the treatment that we
deserve.? How much longer can psychiatrists hide behind their lies
and deceptions, behind their ignorance and incompetence and deny us
the right to proper care and treatment? It's time to stop putting out
their outrageous statements about the safety and effectiveness of
ECT. It's time for them to stop controlling us with their patronising
statements and start listening to us. We are suffering because of a
treatment that is highly dangerous and offered as a first option in
many cases. It is a treatment that should be outlawed, that has no
place in the modern world. It is not a cheap fix, as the writer once
naively believed it to be, but a cheap trick. Is the Government of this
country also fooled by this cheap trick or is there some sinister motive
that we are so far unaware of?
ECT is a scandal that overshadows the BSE scare a thousand fold.
And ECT is a very very expensive treatment indeed.
It costs lives. In Texas where deaths have to be reported following
shock, the elderly are dying at a rate of one in two hundred. We have
similar figures here if we look back to 1978 reports. Why are these
figures no longer available? Why aren't the Government asking these
questions of the RCP? John Major himself asked questions in the
house in 1982 (when he was young, ambitious and caring?) regarding
the safety of the treatment, yet still we have no answers. Where are
his questions today?
It costs happiness. People who would probably have been quite
temporarily depressed, as their circumstances changed, are rendered
utterly unable to return to any kind of normality after ECT. Even
'post-baby blues' , an obviously temporary condition, is treated with
|ECT, and the recipient often emotionally scarred for life.
It costs big money. Benefits have to be paid, often for life, to people
disabled by Electric Shock. Good brains are being destroyed. Our
survivor list is only the meerest fraction of those who are out there,
but it includes people from all walks of life, including many professional
people -teachers, accountants, solicitors- all with their financial
futures destroyed by ECT.
So when the Dept. of Health plant their heads firmly in the sand in
terror of the idea of having to find huge funds for genuine and helpful
treatments if they agreed to supplant ECT, they're not saving money
-they're throwing money away.
If there are any psychiatrists out there reading this -COME OFF IT. Do
you really think you can get away with all this for ever? This situation
has built up quietly over decades, out of sight, fuelled by the need to
deal quickly with large numbers of patients, its technology based on
half-truths, ignorance, and an unwillingness to see harm, until finally
doctors all across the land were doing it. As evidence of the
unacceptable level of harm from ECT has built up to the point that it
has become blindingly obvious, doctors have become obliged to
espouse increasingly unfeasable denials, in order to continue to
protect themselves from accusations of harm.
They are slowly backing themselves into a corner. They cannot now
accept the harm of ECT without admitting they've known it all along
-for the evidence has been around too long now to claim late
enlightenment. And so they have no choice but to go on pretending
that ECT is okay, and hiding behind each other on the premise that if
thousands of them are doing it they can hardly be individually accused
-each just points to all the others for his or her justification.
But this is no justification! Imagine if a mugger is accused of attacking
someone and his answer was: "It's okay - this is my job. This is what I
do. Its a profession. There are thousands of us doing this all over the
But this is exactly what psychiatrists do! They indulge in
premeditated attacks on patients under the guise of helping them,
knowing full well that their actions may result in serious permanent
injury. When a mugger does this he gets jailed. The psychiatrist gets
paid. Shouldn't everyone who knowingly risks harm get the same
One day the damn will burst,, as surely it must, and a tidal wave of
lawsuits will rage through the NHS. Then they'll discover that as they
backed into the corner, they took with them an accumulation of
evidence that points an unwavering finger labelled “culpable” right
back at themselves.
Who's going to make it happen? We're the only ones who can. It has
to be us. No one else cares enough.
BOOKS TO INSPIRE
Rima Handley "Homeopathy for Emotional Health".
How to support and balance your emotions using homeopathic
remedies. This is an excellent book, giving practical advice and
Gael Lindenfield "Managing Anger".
Positive strategies for dealing with difficult emotions.
The New Self-Help Series
Leonard Mervyn "Nerve Troubles".
How to overcome nervous disorders by drug free methods.
Louise Hay "You Can Heal your life".
(Guernsey Press Co).
JM Dechanet "Yoga in Ten lessons".
Margaret Hills SRN "Curing Illness the Drug Free Way".
Shirley Price "Practical Aromatherapy".
How to use essential oils to restore vitality
It's also useful to look at other Thorsons publications Health Series.
COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES & SELF-HELP
In December 1991 the Health Minister announced: 'It is now open to
any family doctor to employ a complementary therapist to offer
treatment on the NHS as long as the doctor remains accountable.'
Surveys show that one third of British GPs possess a skill in one or
more complementary therapies, and 34% of fundholding GPs offer
various complementary services, including homeopathy, acupuncture,
osteopathy, aromatherapy etc. So they are out there, you just need to
seek them out. It's up to us to demand better services, to change our
GP if we are dissatisfied and to find someone who is sympathetic to
Many people have written or asked about alternatives to their
treatment. I have tried to come up with a few ideas mainly taken from
other peoples experiences. This is not meant as advice but merely for
information, just to get you started thinking about other ways to help
yourself or your partner/friend who may be suffering.
It's very important not to come off drugs unless you are supervised by
your doctor. Always ask their advice first.
Many of these therapies are now being offered by some practices.
These doctors are people who listen to what patients want. It's also
important that you make it know what you want too. Doctors don't
know unless you tell them. It's often a good idea to ask around about
practitioners in your area, it's usually better to have a direct
recommendation. You can also ask at your local Health shop; they
often display cards in their windows and can be helpful. Some
therapist have a sliding scale fee, ask them before you decide to try
them. Ask the following associations or a list of practitioners in your
area, or (if you're a woman) go along to your local Well Women's
Centre and ask for information.
Whole or part body massage (neck and shoulders). Massage with
scented oils, can be very beneficial and relaxing. Can relieve head
pain, muscle tension and depression.
Contact The Register of Qualified Aromatherapists, PO. Box 6941
London, N8 9HF tel. 0181 341 2958
Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy (SPNT) PO. Box 47,
Heathfield, East Sussex, TN1 8ZX. tel. 01435 867007
Institute for Optimum Nutrition, Blades Court, Deodar Road, London
SW15 2NU. Tel.0181 877 9993.
We still have a few copies left of their booklet Mental Illness Not All in
the MIND priced £1 inc. postage.
Diagnostic Foot massage-some enlightened GP's may have a
Reflexologist in their practice. Otherwise ring: INTERNATIONAL
INSTITUTE OF REFLEXOLOGY (UK) MEMBERSHIP. Tel. 01732 350629.
National Federation of Spiritual Healers, Old Manor Farm Studio,
Church Street, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, TW16 6RG. tel. 01932
738164. Healer Referral service, send and SAE for info.
World Federation of Healing. Mrs Doris Jones (HH), 10 Gallards Close,
London Road, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. TN4 ONB. Tel.
SEVERE HEAD PAIN? Many survivors complain of this after effect of
ECT. Often it is so debilitating that it is almost impossible to sleep or
function in daily life. Constant pain drains the body of energy creating
a vicious cycle which is difficult to break. Chiropractic has proved to
be a great help to the writer in relieving pain of the head, neck and
back. If you are suffering too it may be worth giving it a shot. I found
relief after only three treatments. For a list of practitioners and more
The McTimoney Chiropractic Association, 21 High Street, Eynham,
Oxon, OXB 1HE. Tel. 01865 880974, send large SAE for info pack.
HYPNOTHERAPY can be useful for all kinds of problems. It is a very
gentle way of facing your past traumas in the hands of an expert.
Some use the David Grove method which is basically about healing the
child within and is very non-invasive.
PSYCHOTHERAPY can also help many people, but it is long term
usually and can be expensive unless you
can be referred by your GP to a good NHS practitioner. For a qualified
Hypnotherapist, contact: Association of Professional Therapists (APT)
57 The Spinney, Sidcup, Kent. DA14 5NE. tel. 0181-308 0249.
The National Association of Counsellors, Hypnotherapists and
Psychotherapists, tel. 01974 241 376. Write to: NACHP Ffnnowen,
Llangwyryfon, Aberystwyth, Dyfed. SY23 4EY.
This treats the whole person -not just a set of symptoms.
One book we highly recommend is Homeopathy for Emotional Health
by Rima Handley. Rima Handley is a practising Homeopath and
Psychotherapist, co-founder of the Northern College of Homeopathic
Medicine at Swinburne House, Swinburne Street, Gateshead, Tyne and
Wear, NE8 1AX.
If you live in the London Area try: The College of Homeopathy,
Regent's College, Inner Circle, London, NW1 7HT.
For a list of Homeopathic Doctors telephone the British Homeopathic
Association on 0171 935 2163 or write enclosing an A4 SAE to: British
Homeopathic Association, 27 Devonshire Street, London, W1N 1RJ.
SELF-HELP... Taking responsibility for your own recovery.
How about starting your own group? It needn't be big -just two or
three of you to begin with, taking turns to offer a room to talk in, with
a time limit, of say, two hours. Set some ground rules at the first
meeting so that you all have a clear idea what you what you hope to
gain from your meetings.
Ask your local MIND office if they know of any groups already
established in your area.
Ask your local CVS if they have any information or are willing to allow
you to use one of their rooms, or ask your local Advocates Office if
they can help you out: this is part of their remit.
Contact UKAN for further information about advocacy: (UKAN United
Kingdom Advocacy Network, Premier House, 14 Cross Burgess
Street, Sheffield, S1 2HG).
There are some excellent advocates groups springing up all over the
UK. You may be able to help out in some way. Sometimes there are
jobs on offer, or you can try voluntary work and apply for a
therapeutic allowance, approx. £40 per week, which would not affect
any other benefit you might be on. Again ask UKAN for information.
Don't just sit there, pick up the phone and ask!
There are many survivors out there in your area -all you have to do is
find them. Fellow survivors are good supporters; they understand
how you feel. Together you can help one another to come to terms
with what has happened to you. You decide on rules, you are in
control and you know how far you want to be involved in any group or
project. Being involved even in the smallest way can pay dividends.
For further help you can contact Una Parker, who is willing to advice
you how to set up a local group. Tel: 01977 714659. Una is a fellow
Remember -ECT Anon cannot be everywhere at once. Now it's your
turn to begin supporting other survivors of ECT. Also, don't forget the
carers of people who have had ECT, they suffer also and need
support. Perhaps some of them may be reading this. Well, how about
setting up your own support groups for carers?
Come on, you can do it! It just takes a little courage and a great deal of
determination. It's got to be worth it if you make the first step towards
your own recovery. Taking that first step is the hardest, after that it
becomes a little easier each time. I have found some wonderful new
friends and I'm sure you can too. Go on, have a go! It's worthwhile.
You can also start your own watchdog group, keeping your eyes and
ears open for abuses of ECT. Let your local Community Health Council
know about your concerns. That way you will be making a very
positive contribution to bringing about change in the practise of ECT.
You have the courage; after all you have survived so far, all you have
to do is acknowledge it. All Survivors are potentially powerful.
Remember the old saying- Together we stand, Divided we fall.
So start up your groups. Band together and decide what it is you can
do to contribute to the campaign for change. Just look at what Alex
Doherty has achieved in Scotland. One man alone, he has gained the
support of MP's, UNISON, numerous survivor groups and local
councils. Just think what we could achieve were we all to band
For example, just imagine what we could do if we all banded together
and began a huge group legal action. It might be a struggle for each
separate one of us to prove a case of harm, but if hundreds of us
stood together, every one of us relentlessly recounting the same type
of harm, it would be compelling evidence. If you're angry enough to be
excited by this idea (after all, didn't ECT take away your job, your
career, your earning power, your health, maybe your ability to ever be
really happy again?) then maybe YOU are the person with the ability
and determination to set this particular ball rolling. In the meantime,
our files and those of other groups just keep on growing, and
psychiatrists just keep on blindly backing themselves into the same
corner. We're ready when you are.
Write letters to the press, keep telling your story, make a fuss and
keep the ECT issue in the public eye. Remember, we are the
EXPERTS, we know how we feel. Let others know, it is nothing to be
ashamed of. All the shame lies at the door of those psychiatrists who
have abused their power out of ignorance, arrogance, laziness.
The following is a statement by UNISON England who now support our
"UNISON has called on the government to set up an independent
inquiry into the use of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) on older
people. The Union is concerned at the increasing number of people
over 65 receiving ECT for dementia and depression. The treatment
-which involves passing an electric current through the patient's
brain- is contentious and experts are divided on its value."
Unison News June 1996.
UNISON SCOTLAND also support the need for change.
If there is anyone in that area who would like more information or
wishes to join them they can be contacted at 40 Melville Street, Hanley,
Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST1 3NB Tel. 01782 260671 Coordinator
The Survivors of Mental Health Services, Room 3, First Floor, North
Wing, St Edmunds House, Lower Baxter Street, Bury St Edmunds,
Suffolk, 1P33 1ET. Tel: 01284 724456
Office Hours 9.30am to 12.30pm on Tues, Wed, Thur. Answer phone at
all other times. They have just published an excellent booklet, issue No
5 - June 1996, challenging the use of ECT.
SORRY -FINAL NEWSLETTER!
Apologies for the brevity and simple layout of this newsletter. Lack of
funds have obliged us to cut down on its size, and this is the last for a
while, so please don't send another SAE. We're going to concentrate
funds in other directions. Thanks to all those who sent donations to
support our publication of the Pippard report expose. Many hundreds
of copies have gone out, into many influential places, and its effects
are now slowly seeping down through the system in myriad ways.
Hopefully it will play its part in bringing about long overdue reforms.
We're still working away, and we still need funds. Remember us when
you win the lottery!
COOK REPORT -KEEP WATCHING!
Thanks to those survivors who had the courage to appear on this
program. The Cook Report have stated their intention of continuing
their coverage of ECT abuses, culminating eventually in a full program
on the subject.
PLEASE -DO YOUR BIT!
Photocopy this newsletter and pass it on to anyone and anywhere you
think it may have the slightest effect in helping even a single person to
avoid the abuse that you and others like you have suffered. DO IT
NOW. DON'T PUT IT OFF. This is YOUR contribution. Pass it on to
Citizens' Advice Bureaux, doctors' and hospital waiting rooms,
Community Health Councils, drop-in centres, etc etc etc... whereever
you think it may help.