Protest held over brutal medical procedure electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on patients


A protest against a medical procedure critics say is from a “bygone era” took place
recently as a health group condemned the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on its patients.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) protesters pitched up outside the Maudsley hospital in Camberwell to protest about “brutal” treatment given to people with mental health illnesses, as portrayed in films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Electroconvulsive therapy sends up to 450 volts of electricity through the brain in order to make the patient have a seizure that involves a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions which can lead to brain damage and memory loss.

NHS guidelines say: “During ECT, a carefully calculated electric current is passed to the brain through electrodes placed on the head.

“The current stimulates the brain and triggers a seizure, which helps relieve the symptoms of depression.”

Brian Daniels, a key organiser at CCHR, has been investigating abuse cases in psychiatry for 20 years, and says the continued use of the treatment is “startling”.

Mr Daniels said: “The reason for the protest is to help people who have been affected by the treatment to come forward and talk to us about it and to raise awareness.

“Most people, when they talk to us, say: ‘Really? Is it still going on?’”

“The justification for continuing use of this treatment is that it helps people with difficulties and troubles, but actually it’s like being hit with a cricket bat.

“Memory loss, brain damage and physical damage are just some of the problems that can occur as a result of the procedure, but many psychiatrists still support it.

“In the past people have broken their teeth and bones, and what psychiatrists say is that it is more humane today with relaxants and anaesthetic, but the damage is still the same and they’ve started using higher voltages,” added Mr Daniels.

“The really scary thing is some patients are not giving consent to this treatment. If they are detained under the Mental Health Act any resistance to the treatment can be overruled.”

The most recent report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists showed that in 2016-17 more than 40 per cent of ECT procedures in the UK were done without consent under the Mental Health Act.

Mr Daniels added: “The effects are incredibly damaging, some patients can’t remember their family members any more and often create an insular living experience for themselves.”

The only other hospital in South London where electroshock therapy is performed is the Woodlands Unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.

A spokeswoman for the Maudsley Hospital said: “Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used as a treatment in the UK for some people with severe mental illnesses, in keeping with NICE guidelines.

“The Trust currently meets all the best practice standards for the running of ECT

(Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Soggybread)

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16 thoughts on “Protest held over brutal medical procedure electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on patients

  • Fionna Bowie-Macdonald

    Barbaric practice!! Man’s inhumanity to man!!

    • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) needs to be abolished! I’m disgusted in knowing ECT still exists!

    • David Windsor

      Carefully calculated current? Compared to what successful electrocution?

      • Kathryn Rippley

        I was given ECT treatments. They knock you out know with propofol now so you don’t remember anything but it didn’t do a thing for me although I am one of the lucky ones who didn’t have any memory loss or other side effects. It should be outlawed.

  • A friend of mine received this the effects were devastating. She is missing entire segments of her memory. She did not know who her husband was following the 18th “treatment”

    • It’s terrible electroconvulsive therapy ever existed and repulsive that it’s still being used!

  • Fiona Shah

    Good to see people protesting against this – my friend’s sister died from complications after receiving ECT.

    Psychiatrists should try it out on themselves if they think it’s safe treatment.

  • Israel Ben-Avraham

    I was given it at the age of16 against my will after being raped the person was found guilty there was no such thing as Male rape then1984 he spent less time in prison than I did sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, recently I have developed epilepsy a seizure caused me a major bleed on the brain fell on hard floor needed a two and a half hour craniotomy brain surgery nearly died I wonder?

    • Ect is a nice acronym but brutal. I had once 240v thru my finger and omg it hurt. It was so painful and lasted for nearly an hour at full throttle . I could not imagine anything could be that painful. My whole body was in agony.

      Electro shock 460v through brain.

      40% without consent.

      What are they descendants of Nazies.

  • Hartley Patterson

    The “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” is a front group for the Church of Scientology which opposes all forms of psychiatry. See the Wikipedia article about it.

  • Jane London

    I hate Scientology however if they are going to try and stop ECT then I stand by them. I had it and it’s dreadful. I’m lucky the damaging results weren’t as bad as it is for some. I’ve never been the same though and have big blocks of loss of memory and my day to day memory is not as good as it was before and it happened in the 60’s. All over being beaten black and blue by my ex husband. I was his victim and then the doctors. I did not speak about it again until recently, I deliberately kept quiet until I heard it was still going on and then I spoke out and my story is on their page. It’s an evil, barbaric, brutal “treatment” done to block out everything so you don’t remember anything to get upset about only it doesn’t take the upset away, just the good memories. I’ve never forgiven them nor will I. I wasn’t depressed, just dreadfully upset I’d had to break my marriage vows because as a lawyer said strongly, my mother took me to him, “he could murder you if you don’t get out” his beatings were so bad.

  • Christine Dalton

    My mother was given ECT , it made her docile no life left in her. It was about 50 years ago.
    It destroyed her marriage and our family.
    Probably should have been a medical negligence claim at the time.

  • I was given etc first at the age of twelve. Which I believe is totally against the law this was in late 70’s and early 80’s it has left me lost far from memories of good things and the memories I do remember as a survivor of historical abuse is well words can express. Relationship s are very difficult I’m a loner my child is now an adult . But my life was robbed by my abusers as well those who robbed my brain

  • Philip Jackson

    This treatment should be banned. It was used on me without my knowing what it was back in the seventies after an unrequited love brought on a mental health issue. I wasn’t violent depressed or a danger to anyone. I complained about the inability to think properly and function properly after the treatment for the next 20 years. After 20 years God chose to deliver me from this evil by the gift of a holy master which returned me to (almost) normal.

  • Finding out how humans can soulessly experiment on animals, us humans included – maybe a result of our daily demands?

    It is horrible how this experiments can destroy the mind and brake the spirit. We can see it everyday if we dive into the process of our desires – from food to clothing, our devices, our lifestyles, we are all demanding for tortures beyond ECT to occur daily to children – all of god’s children.

    The pain this topic reveals is a sign of how abuse is Universal, and universally wrong.
    Change should begin within – and we should change.

    There is one tool in this report which we can agree is alarming – consent – this should be re-evaluated.

    Consent should be respected, loved, understood.

    Bless you all

  • April Smith

    I had a total of 6 ect treatments. My doctors convinced me that this was my only hope bc I had tried everything else over the last 20 yrs. I watched a video and it looked safe. With each treatment I was put to sleep. The side effects I experienced were headaches, a broken tooth, and memory loss. But my symptoms did not improve. I think it should be outlawed.


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