The mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) New York protested psychiatry’s ongoing use of electroshock treatment (ECT), especially on toddlers and children when it marched on the annual conference of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in New York on Saturday, May 5. CCHR’s international headquarters, based in Los Angeles, supported the protest and the need for a ban on all uses of electroshock. It said thousands of adult patients have condemned ECT as causing them brain damage and memory loss. Such physical abuse, if committed by anyone but a psychiatrist, it says, would constitute a crime, and when given to children should be meted the highest penalties. Through recent Freedom of Information Act requests filed with U.S. states, CCHR established what has been withheld from Americans for years—that children aged five and younger are being electroshocked. Autistic children are also undergoing it, despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) never approving ECT’s use for autism. One autistic teenager was electroshocked 260 times.
Attorney Jonathan Emord and his co-counsel Kendrick Moxon have filed a Supplement to their Citizen Petition of August 2016, protesting the FDA’s Proposed Order to reclassify and make more readily available the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Device used to give “shock-treatment.” The reclassification would make it easier for doctors to give the treatment. Shock treatment is well-known as the punishment given actor Jack Nicholson in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. More recently it was portrayed in the TV series Homeland when given to the star, destroying her memory and intelligence. Memory loss and brain damage are the central issue in the attorneys’ filing. An NAACP Resolution calls for a banning of electroshock treatment on children, youths and young adults up to the age of 21. The Resolution points to four U.S. states—California, Colorado, Texas and Tennessee—having banned the pediatric use of electroshock and a United Nations report on Torture that recommends “an absolute ban on all forced” electroshock. African Americans are more at risk of this potentially brain-damaging procedure as: “psychiatrists now diagnose African American men in mental hospitals as having a serious mental disorder at a rate of up to 1,500 percent higher than white men,” according to the Resolution.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the electroshock therapy (ECT) device to remain on the market without requiring clinical studies proving safety and efficacy, and is considering the American Psychiatric Association’s written proposal to expand ECT’s use on the general public, including on children. According to the FDA’s mission statement, the FDA “is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety” and “efficacy” of medical products, including “medical devices” (the ECT device included). Due to the documented risks attributed to ECT, we are calling on the FDA to prohibit its use.