Involuntary Shock Treatment To Be Banned in Ireland

Courtesy of Talla Trialogue on Twitter, I recently read an article in on this topic.

Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, has reportedly stated that “…the law will be changed so that unwilling patients will no longer be forced to receive ECT.”

At present, if an individual refuses ECT, his refusal can be overridden by the signatures of two psychiatrists.

However, not everyone is in favor of the ban on forced ECT.  There’s an article by Marie Feely, Proposed ban on Involuntary ECT criticized published in irishmedicalnews in January 2012.  The article reports on a survey of consultant psychiatrists published in December 2011.  Ms. Feely writes:

“The study found that for involuntary patients who have capacity to consent but are unwilling to do so, 32 per cent of respondents said they would prescribe the treatment.” (Emphasis added)

I have written on ECT before, here and here.  There are two aspects of ECT that in my opinion merit particular attention.

1.  There is no significant difference in outcome for real ECT vs. sham ECT (in which the individual is prepared, anesthetized, but not actually shocked).  For references and discussion see Bracken et al Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm.

2.  Loss of retrograde memory is a common and devastating side effect.  Linda Andre’s book Doctors of Deception is very informative reading on this matter.

Ireland’s move to ban forced shock “treatment” is a great step forward, with regards to civil rights and curbing the abusive, dehumanizing,  and destructive power of modern biological psychiatry.

I imagine that there has been a great deal of work done by survivors, activists, and others on this matter, and it is gratifying to see the dogmatic certainty of psychiatry being successfully challenged.

Psychiatry is founded on spurious premises and destructive practices.  It is like a sand castle, and the tide is coming in.

  • Sweet63

    One thing I don’t get – is it just assumed that these ECT patients don’t have any work to do? I have enough cognitive problems just trying to do my job, without adding any more. How do people cope? I know only one ECT victim and she seemed okay to me but did jump from job to job until taking early retirement.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming back. Interesting point. Psychiatrists like to promote the notion that the “illnesses” they “treat” are serious, even life-threatening. This is their standard justification for using “treatments” that cause truly awful damage. The rationale is that they were “weighing the risks” of the “treatment” against the risks of leaving the “illness” untreated.

    So if someone emerges from several courses of shock “treatment” with such severe memory loss that he/she can’t hold down a job – that’s just written off as a necessary side effect, and the assumption is made that the person would be faring much worse if the electric shocks had not been given.

    I think your general point is very pertinent. Life is challenging. I would be hard pressed to identify any time in my life, after the age of about five/six, at which I didn’t have at least one significant challenge/problem on my plate. And I think this is true for most people. Challenges arise and we deal with them, but there’s always another coming along behind. The good life is not one that’s free of problems/troubles; rather, it’s one where the problems get faced and resolved.

    And this is one of the great shortcomings of modern psychiatry: Their clients are generally no better off in terms of facing and resolving problems after “treatment” than they were before. And in many cases, they’re worse off.

    Always nice to hear from you. Best wishes.