A protest against the psychiatric practice of electroshock held in Cork on Saturday heard calls for the total abolition of the procedure.

The Cork protest was part of a simultaneous 30 city international campaign.

Public testimonies were given by a number of recipients of the procedure who all spoke of the trauma, brain damage and enduring memory loss they experienced.

Latest figures from The Mental Health Commission reveal that 244 people were given electroshock in Ireland in 2012 with twice as many women than men being recipients.

The practice involves shocking the brain with an electric current to deliberately induce a seizure or grand mal convulsion.

It is an extremely controversial procedure with proponents claiming it is an essential treatment for people who do not respond to other methods. Opponents say it is outdated and dehumanising and call for its total abolition and for more effective alternatives to be made available.

The recently published Report of the Expert Group set up to review the 2001 Mental Health Act has opted to retain the practice but has recommended it should not be forced on people against their will while, at the same time, agreeing with proposed legislation under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill that will still enable electroshock to be administered as “a life-saving treatment .. or where the patient’s condition is otherwise treatment resistant”.

The protest was organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a human rights survivor activist group opposed to forced treatment and was their 7th such event since their inaugural protest in 2007.


Jim Maddock,
MindFreedom Ireland