Shock Therapy Makes a Comeback

• How did society get to a point where causing brain damage is proposed as a viable therapy?

By James Spounias —

If you’ve seen the riveting scene involving electroshock in Milos Forman’s famous movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, you may remember Jack Nicholson violently shaking, moaning, and writhing in pain and discomfort, as if he was being given a seizure by mad scientists. Nicholson’s character lost all sense of self after being shocked. If you thought electroshock wasn’t used anymore, you’re wrong. Electroshock is still being used, but under a new name: It’s now called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and for the past few years it has been making a comeback.

Manufacturers of ECT devices are attempting to have them reclassified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—which regulates drugs and medical devices in the United States—from Class III devices that “usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury,” to Class II, which includes, for instance, motorized wheelchairs, contact lens care products and condoms.

Critics of ECT claim that electroshock device manufacturers have never undertaken proper clinical studies to prove the devices are safe and effective, although such studies were ordered by the FDA way back in 1979.


Only those completely brainwashed by the mainstream media and medical profession would believe that a device running electrical current directly to the brain should be in the same legal regulatory category as a wheelchair. The establishment defends electroshock today as it has since the 1975 release of the blockbuster movie mentioned above.

In 1990, The New York Times blasted the film in an article noting “The Quiet Comeback of Electroshock Therapy,” stating “shock therapy has retained the tarnished image given it by Ken Kesey’s novel [One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest]: dangerous, inhumane, and overused.”

The technology hasn’t changed much since Italian psychiatrists in 1938 used electric shock to make pigs more docile prior to slaughter.

AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke to John Breeding, Ph.D. who is a practicing psychologist in Austin, Texas and has been highly critical of electroshock therapy over the years. Breeding maintains the website “End of Shock” and is an activist for the Coalition to End Electroshock in Texas. He is also the author of the book, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses.

Even without thorough testing, we know that electroshock causes brain damage and memory loss, and may bring on cardiovascular complications, epilepsy, and, in some cases, death, according to Breeding. The medical establishment admits to death rates of one in 10,000 patients, but Breeding contends studies reveal the death rate is actually one in 200 patients. Even accepting the establishment’s number, electroshock is anything but safe.

Breeding states: “Electroshock is a psychiatric procedure that involves the production of a grand mal convulsion, similar to an epileptic seizure, by passing from 70 to upwards of 600 volts of electric current through the brain for one-half second to four seconds.”

In Cuckoo’s Nest, the public saw Jack Nicholson thrash in agony in response to shock therapy. But today, anesthetic, tranquilizing, and paralyzing drugs are used prior to ECT to minimize fear, pain, and the risk of violent muscle spasms that caused fractured bones, particularly in the spine, before the use of muscle paralyzing drugs, according to research from Breeding.

According to the Coalition to End Electroshock in Texas, the cost of a typical electroshock series for a hospitalized patient in the U.S. is between $50,000 and $75,000. Outpatient use, either in a hospital or psychiatrist’s office, runs $1,500 to $2,000 per session. Government and private insurance plans usually cover most, if not all, of the cost. Perhaps it’s not surprising that psychiatrists who specialize in electroshock often earn two to five times more per year than the average psychiatrist.

How dangerous is electroshock therapy?

It’s a controversial question because the establishment minimizes danger, arguing that the risk of danger is slight compared to the benefits. Critics strongly advocate against electroshock and note that it always causes damage to the brain. The only question is the degree of damage.

Breeding explains: “The brain naturally operates in millivolts of electricity, and ECT administers on average between 150 and 400 volts of electricity to the brain, a force sufficient to induce a grand mal seizure, rupture the protective blood-brain barrier, and incite glutamate toxicity. Glutamate is a powerful neurotransmitter released by nerve cells in the brain and is responsible for sending signals between nerve cells. In glutamate toxicity there is too much glutamate that leads to over-excitation of the receiving nerve cell, which can cause cell damage and/or death.”

The psychologist adds: “It is a prima facie, commonsense, obvious fact that ECT causes brain damage. After all, the rest of medicine, as well as the building trades, do their best to prevent people from being hurt or killed by electrical shock. People with epilepsy are given anticonvulsant drugs to prevent seizures because they are known to damage the brain. The Electroshock Quotationary, a collection of quotations, excerpts, and essays about the history and nature of electroshock, by shock survivor Leonard Roy Frank, includes the testimony of Peter Sterling, a University of Pennsylvania neuroscience professor, describing the nature of ECT-caused brain damage, dated May 31, 2001, to the New York Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health at a public hearing on ECT. Sterling affirms the obvious: that massive amounts of electricity directly into the brain cause profound damage.”

Breeding tells AFP that autopsies and diagnostic testing often spot clearly identifiable brain damage done by electroshock.

How does the establishment justify electroshock?

Most people who end up receiving electroshock therapy suffer from severe psychological difficulties that were either never treated properly in the first place or were made worse by psychiatric pharmaceutical assault. For them, electroshock is a treatment—if it can be called that—of last resort.


This begs the question, as Breeding asks, “Do these patients truly give informed consent to electroshock?” No, Breeding contends, because they are already in a severely compromised state.

Many of those treated with ECT require further electroshock treatments because the relapse rate is extremely high and “maintenance” treatments are almost always given, according to Breeding.

There is a serious concern that if the classification of electroshock devices changes from Class III to Class II, it would be a public relations boon to promote the use of the therapy, making it more appealing to a broader number of “customers.”

Emigrate While You Still Can! Learn More . . .

Breeding notes that electroshock is promoted for severely autistic children, the elderly, and pregnant women—situations where pharmaceutical intervention is not always viable.

The current and prospective use of electroshock therapy should waken people to the larger issue: How did society get to a point where causing brain damage is proposed as a viable therapy? Disrupting memory and one’s “spirit” as a means of managing a class of people who are largely victims of the very treatments that brought them to despair is a sorry stain on our culture and society.

We need to step back, re-examine what brought us here, look at the numerous ignored and suppressed treatments, and experience a new dawn to break ourselves of this horrific cycle.

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James Spounias is the president of Carotec Inc., originally founded by renowned radio show host and alternative health expert Tom Valentine and his wife, Carole. To receive a free issue of Carotec Health Report—a monthly newsletter loaded with well-researched and reliable alternative health information—please write Carotec, P.O. Box 9919, Naples, FL 34101 or call 1-800-522-4279. Also included will be a list of the high-quality health supplements Carotec recommends.

3 Comments on Shock Therapy Makes a Comeback

  1. May someone please help me? I suffer from PTSD from a brutal rape three years ago. I also lost a fiancee and had a midterm during almost the beginning of my third trimester, all during this time—is it a wonder I was sad? I wasn’t even diagnosed with depression. In this world emotions are silenced by psychiatry be it harmful medications or inhumane and sickening treatment you wouldn’t even do to animals. Are we going to bring back forced sterilization now? Put homosexuality, feeble-mindedness, female hysteria and the crime of being a person of color of a different culture back into the DSM?

    I am a 30-year-old disabled woman who came back “home” to the house of my parents so I could take online school before residing in a communal dorm (NOT mental facility…dorm for those in wheel chairs, etc) in one of the best universities in the country, if not the world.

    I have been doing incredibly well with a heavy course load as I am able to prop myself up in bed in certain positions and position the laptop and use dictation software.

    Until three days ago…

    I found out my parents had plans to involuntarily commit me due to nothing I can think of except to get rid of me and their embarrassment of having a daughter who publicly speaks out about the criminality of healthcare, patient dumping, and the dupe of psychiatry. I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail and harassment for this, including my family, with who I am partially estranged, so perhaps that has something to do with putting me somewhere that will make me forget how disgusting these “treatments” are.

    Dianna Loper Posthauer: This IS truly rape of the soul.

    I have not been able to work for the last three days due to finding these things out and how they have spread vicious lies and slandered my name on the Internet. I am not using my public name or email due to this, but I would really appreciate speaking with someone. They have said I am simply “unwilling” and “lazy” and “desiring a reason so as not to do school work” when really my PTSD has been blown apart, as is my heart, spirit and soul in this gross betrayal of my person and my humanity. I have lost possibly my scholarship to this university due to driving while drinking, smoking, having back-to-back panic attacks to find a place to live so I could continue school, which I would have to restart, and they would possibly rescind my scholarship. School would not then be possible due to bankruptcy as a result of hospitalizations for my severe SLE, RA, and kidney failure.

    I said that I wouldn’t be taken alive to that facility because at least in jail, getting the death penalty for murder, being beaten to death or even resorting to suicide, my soul would not be lost. Killing myself would be the last resort because then they would say, “oh, things would be SWELL if she had ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY.”

    I want people to know if I had to take myself out (as many tribes of all races and cultures have done for years from the Romans invading Jews on a hillside refuge community they had built, to slaves being taken away from Africa, jumping off into the water). You do not have to be sick to refuse to be subjected to something worse than death.

    I also want people to know that if I end up in prison, I am a political prisoner and there was a premeditated reason for it in case of a severe emergency. Now I am almost scared enough to turn myself into the cops saying I’ve been stealing cars or assaulting people or….jeez, I have no idea. Just something that would at least enable me to start a new life after serving maybe five years as a model prisoner who has emerged literate and rehabilitated, then maybe I’d even get a full scholarship! (somewhat sarcastic).

    I’m not paranoid, it’s all over their computer I am now using when I should be using this for school. I’m too frantic and scared to do anything else but try to find solidarity. They have a plan to commit me and use this loathsome and murderous weapon upon my body, my identity, my memory, my spirit, my soul.

    They do this at Swedish hospital chain….I have urinated myself, shaken so badly I’ve had to hold my head between my knees while my heart races so as to not fall down. I’m ALREADY epileptic…why on earth would anyone think this is OK?

    my email is [email protected]

    Please help me if you can. I am scared for my life.

  2. Thank you Dr. John Breeding for your comments.

    I can not believe that after so many people have spoken up about what they have been through after having ECT that it is still considered a viable therapy. How can causing brain damage, taking away one’s memory and one’s “spirit” for the rest of their lives even be legal? How can the fact that I for one can not even remember my marriage ceremony, my children’s birth or childhoods, or even remember my own childhood be considered an acceptable outcome of this supposed viable treatment? I have been confused about who my family or friends were talking about when they spoke of this person that was supposed to be me as being a happy, and fun-loving individual who laughed and spent time doing things that I don’t remember or even understand but wish I could because I would give anything to be that person again.

    We must all revisit what we are going to do about this horrific use of electroshock therapy and put a STOP to it NOW before the classification of electroshock devices changes from Class III to Class II. I guess I had allowed myself to believe that this type of therapy had come to be considered the old way of treating psychiatric problems. I let myself believe that it was not used anymore as it was years ago when my depression after my memory of my abuse as a child became known to me was treated by passing from 70 to upwards of 600 volts of electric current through my brain and causing me to become a totally different person then I have been told I was and zapping my memory of life away from me. I dream of a day when I will again be able to remember and look back on my life and smile when I think of, (remember) holding my children in my arms. I haven’t lost my dream even 40 years after my so-called viable treatments of ECT!

  3. This is a crime against the spirit and a rape of the soul! If you Google, etc., Dianna Loper. This will prove my point.

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