A public protest meeting against the psychiatric practice of electroshock, also known as ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ (ECT) will be held at 2pm on Saturday May 10th outside The Peace Park on Grand Parade in Cork city.

It will be the 6th such protest organised by MindFreedom Ireland which campaigns against the abuse of human rights in the field of psychiatry. A number of recipients of electroshock will address the meeting.

Electroshock involves the passing of an electric current of up to 400 volts through the brains of people who are depressed, deliberately inducing a convulsion or grand-mal seizure. Though administered under general anaesthetic and muscle relaxing drugs, the recipient can still display intense facial grimacing and twitching limbs.

Proponents of the practice claim it can help people who are severely depressed though they cannot say exactly how. Opponents point to the brain damage and particularly the memory loss that follows and say that 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’.

The most recent figures from The Mental Health Commission show 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.

As is the case world-wide, twice as many women than men were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012, the oldest being a woman of 92.

Also under the Mental Health Act, the consultant psychiatrists are not obliged to honour the person’s wishes if these are written in an Advance Directive. There is no legal comeback for anyone feeling they have been harmed or for a next-of-kin to intervene if they feel the ‘treatment’ is wrong.

Founder of MindFreedom Ireland Mary Maddock said “Electroshock is a barbaric assault on the individual. As a young mother after the birth of my daughter, I was subjected to 16 sessions of it and suffered permanent memory loss as a result. I have spoken to many others both in Ireland and abroad and all have received permanent brain damage. MindFreedom Ireland is calling for the total abolition of electroshock.”

A 2007 study by Dr. Harold Sackeim of Columbia University, New York – a lifelong defender and promoter of electroshock – confirmed that it causes permanent brain damage and dysfunction thus validating those who reported permanent adverse effects said Linda Andre, Head of the American Committee for Truth in Psychiatry.

“It seems odd to have one branch of medicine working on better ways to prevent and treat seizures while another is intentionally causing them” said Dr. John Read, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool who added “I am convinced that in 10 or 15 years we will have put ECT in the same rubbish bin of historical treatments as lobotomies and surprise baths that have been discarded over time.”

New York psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin says “Psychiatry is the only place where you damage the brain and call it a cure.”


Jim Maddock,

MindFreedom Ireland.

1st May, 2014.

Phone: 021 4894303. Mobile: 086 0624445.