Electric Convulsive Therapy

I am now a sadder but a wiser woman, and one who can say with certainty that knowledge and freedom are happiness” Hannah Greally

Prof Ivor Browne writes “Over many years studies of ECT have shown no long-term benefit, only a temporary relief of symptoms due to confusion and brain damage”. He finishes with this line “The only real, lasting change comes when we help a person to bring about the painful work of change within themselves” [1].

Psychiatrist Dr Bob Johnson has written an informed consent form for Electric shock, which outlines the risks involved [2]. Psychiatrist Dr Michael Corry wrote an article entitled Barbaric age of electric shock ‘cure’ must vanish [3].

There is a short video about Psychiatric survivor and mental health activist Mary Maddock, who was subjected to Electric shock back in the 1970s, three days after the birth of her first baby! [4]. Mary is a co-founder of Mind Freedom Ireland. When it comes to modern day Psychiatry in Ireland this is what the Sligo woman now living in Cork has to say in a book called Soul Survivor, which she co-wrote with her husband Jim in 2006 :

“very little if anything, has changed over the last thirty years. The ‘experts’ still call the shots. The medical model is dominant, the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory is still propounded, depression is still a ‘disease’ and drugs are still the main form of treatment. More and more ‘disorders’ are being invented to be treated with more and more drugs, to the delight of the pharmaceutical companies whose profits grow and grow. Every year, a new crop of patients join the conveyor belt, just as we did in 1976. Pre-teen children are prescribed Ritalin. ‘A pill for every ill’ is becoming the norm. And yet, despite all that, two stark facts remain – 70% of admissions to psychiatric hospitals are re-admissions and the suicide rate in Ireland has never been higher” [5].

In 2016, a 16-year-old girl with an eating disorder was forced to receive up to 12 sessions of Electric shock, according to this Irish Times article [6]. I would love to know where this young girl is now and how she is doing. I know of another young girl who had a cocktail of drugs forced upon her via the High Court. I went to see her recently. She is damaged and suffering on a daily basis for several years now. Her family is also suffering. There has to be a more humane way of helping our young people.

I sat beside a lady in a private hospital that was going through Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT). She wasn’t allowed in the garden. My heart went out to her. I found out later this hospital had one of the highest rates of ECT in the country ! I watched a documentary on mental health where a woman seemed to benefit from Electric shock but by the end of the programme she had relapsed. So what appeared initially to be a “miracle cure” seemed very much short lived.

I would suggest writing an Advance Directive and specifying whether or not ECT would be a treatment option that you find acceptable.


[1] Debate on electric shock therapy, Prof Ivor Browne, June 2008 ~


[2] An informed consent form for ECT, Dr Bob Johnson ~


[3] Barbaric age of electric shock ‘cure’ must vanish by Dr Michael Corry, 2008~


[4] Mary Maddock: a survivor of ECT and decades of Psychiatric drugging ~


[5] Soul Survivor by Mary Maddock, 2006 ~


[6] A 16-year-old girl with severe depression associated with an eating disorder is to receive up to 12 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) !


In memory of my sane father who was a gentle man and should have turned 78 in 2018. He was subjected to this barbaric treatment back in 1970s Ireland and possibly the early 1980s. It affected his memory. Rest in Peace.




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