Sunday, 10 February 2013

women, forced treatment and ECT in the psychiatric system - I say NO

I'm compelled to revisit the theme of women and their treatment in the psychiatric system.  Being a woman who has 3 times been under the control of psychiatry, my mother also a conscript and victim, of forced ECT and psychiatric drugging.   Keeping it in the family.  She was kept on a depixol injection until the end of her life in 1998.  My mother was a gentle woman, clever and sensitive, and didn't deserve to be treated like this.

The system has nothing to be proud of.  Grabbing and jagging women, shocking them into sense.  More like keeping them quiet, voices silenced.  Well this woman isn't conforming.  It's not in my nature, regardless of the system's pills and potions, manacles and gags.  I have to speak out.  On behalf of the women in my family and the many other women labelled and disabled by psychiatry.

Bonnie Burstow, feminist and academic, in her 2006 article 'Electroshock as a Form of Violence Against Women' writes of aiming to "fundamentally shift the ECT frame and provide a critical feminist reconceptualization of electroshock".  Burstow has also spoken of ECT as a "gentleman's way of battering a woman".

She says "More specifically, this article argues for and lays the basis for understanding electroshock as a form of violence generally and a form of violence against women in particular.  Correspondingly, it sheds light on the nature of the violence and the manifold effects on women—psychological, social, and physical.". 

In Scotland two-thirds of people getting ECT are women, one third of these getting it involuntarily, and of women over 60 getting ECT then one half are getting it against their will.  Or because they are 'without capacity'.  I'm now 60 so have written an advance statement which says - NO forced treatment, NO anti-psychotics or anti-depressants, NO ECT, NO NMD/brain surgery for mental illness.  

I hope the message is clear, that I am not a masochist or like being forced to do anything.  I don't like mind-altering drugs and don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.  Mental distress doesn't alter the situation.  The psychiatric system is going to have to find an alternative way of working with me if I become mentally distressed, or as they describe it 'psychotic'.


  1. I am a 65 yr old woman and 13 yrs free from psychotropic drugs I was told I needed for life! I am also an electroshock survivor. I do not want to be shocked or drugged again. I do not want harmful invasive 'treatment'. I know there are many other gentler, humanistic ways to really help people in distress. Effective forms of support and guidance are very rare in what is described as the 'mental health' system. I want to choose what is good for myself. Someone who thinks it is right to violate another to provide assistance is the one who really needs help.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S.Lewis

    1. Thanks for commenting Mary. I agree with what you say wholeheartedly, Chrys


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