A public protest against the controversial psychiatric practice of electroshock will take place in Cork on Saturday, May 16th 2015.
The protest will coincide with similar events being organised in over 30 cities and 9 countries around the world and is being held to honour the memory of American recipient Leonard Roy Frank, a lifelong opponent of electroshock who died earlier this year.
It is being organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a Cork based survivor/activist group and will be their 7th such annual protest. Personal testimonies will be given by people who have been the recipients of electroshock.
In the 2013 Annual Report of The Mental Health Commission, the Chairman John Saunders states “The Commission is still concerned that ECT can be administered to detained persons against their will.” The recently published Report of The Expert Group on The Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 states that “there are diverging views both within and outside the psychiatric profession on the necessity and/or efficacy” of electroshock.
The practice involves passing an electric current through the brain provoking a grand mal seizure or convulsion. Proponents claim it can help people who are severely depressed while opponents point to the brain damage and particularly memory loss associated with the procedure and say any claimed benefits are only temporary, necessitating even more and more programmes. A single programme can involve up to a maximum of 12 separate treatments.
Latest figures from The Mental Health Commission reveal that 311 programmes or 2152 single ‘treatments’ were given to 244 people in Irish hospitals in 2012. Twenty seven people were electroshocked without their consent in keeping with Section 59b of the 2001 Mental Health Act which still allows for it to be given to a person who is “unable or unwilling” to consent, on the say-so of two psychiatrists. Promised legislation to omit the word ‘unwilling’ has yet to be enacted.
As is the case worldwide, twice as many women than men were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012, the oldest being a woman of 92 while 52 women and 17 men between the ages 70 to 89 were also recipients.
Member of The Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault and author of the recently published book ‘ Psychiatry and the Business of Madness’ Toronto academic Bonnie Burstow said “All of us in our own cities in our own different ways will be together protesting on May 16th. How wonderful that Cork, Ireland is once again part of an international protest against electroshock.”
In addition to Leonard Roy Frank, MindFreedom Ireland are dedicating their protest to the memory of the late Dr. Michael Corry, Dr. Aine Tubridy and John Mc Carthy all of whom passionately campaigned for its abolition.
MindFreedom Ireland was founded in 2003 and in 2006 held what was Ireland’s first public protest against electroshock. In 2011 it hosted a conference addressed by, among others, Limerick psychotherapist and author Dr. Terry Lynch, American journalist and founder of Mad in America Robert Whittaker and American lawyer Ted Chabasinski who had received electroshock as a child of 6 in Belleview Hospital in New York. He, along with fellow survivors Deborah Schwartzkopff and Mary Maddock, are the chief co-ordinators for the world wide May protest.
Founder of MindFreedom Ireland Mary Maddock said ” Electroshock is a barbaric practice. I received 13 sessions of it after the birth of my daughter and it left me with permanent memory loss and dysfunction. We call for a total abolition of the practice.”
The Cork protest takes place outside The Peace Park on The Grand Parade from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday May 16th and all are welcome.