Monday, 20 April 2015

Dear Prof Matthews: why are female patients in Carseview Centre Dundee being put under pressure to have ECT?

Another letter sent this morning by Email to Professor Keith Matthews, psychiatrist on the Advanced Interventions Service (DAIS) based at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee and Head of Neuroscience at the University of Dundee.  Copied in to his psychiatrist colleagues at DAIS, the Cabinet Secretary for Health at Scottish Government and her fellow MSP in Dundee, the CEO of NHS Tayside, the Director of National Services Division at NHS and the Head of the Scottish Mental Health Research Network:

Strapline: why are female patients in Carseview Centre Dundee being put under pressure to have ECT?

"Dear Professor Matthews

I am wondering if you can answer this question? 

I remember your article and quote in the Courier piece from October 2011: "Professor defends electroconvulsive therapy against Hollywood's portrayal":

where you say "ECT is one of the single most effective treatments in the whole of medicine."  A shock to the brain or a knock on the head is more important than for example penicillin or insulin?

I am hearing, again, that female patients in the Carseview Centre, Dundee, are being put under pressure to have ECT.  I heard it first back in early 2013 when my middle son was a patient in Ward 1 at Carseview and an older female patient in the dining room, about my age, said to another patient that her psychiatrist wanted her to have ECT but she didn't want it.  The other patient, a young man, former Game student at Abertay, told her to refuse it.  That's what he was doing.  However the woman said that her doctor wouldn't discharge her until she agreed to the ECT.  Soon after this the woman capitulated, got the shock treatment and got discharged.  She had entered the ward with a black eye and left it with a knock on the head.  Same difference I suppose.  

Please excuse my flippancy.  I am really very angry and upset that women should be pressurised to accept electroconvulsive therapy when they don't want to have it.  It happened to my mother many times, in Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, in the 1950's and 1960's.  Forced ECT.  Against her will.  My mother was not suicidal or depressed.  Rather she experienced altered mind states, nervous breakdowns as they were then called, now "psychoses".  My mother was a gentle woman who was sensitive and caring.  She didn't deserve to be abused in psychiatric settings because of feeling emotional pain at the circumstances of life.

I am hearing that it is women who have diagnoses of OCD and/or depression who are being put under pressure to have ECT in the Carseview Centre, Dundee, by both nurses and doctors.  I am thinking that there has to be a link with the work that you do at the University of Dundee and the Advanced Interventions Service.  It cannot just be coincidence when there are so many factors in common.

On 16 May 2015 there is to be an international Day of Protest against Electroshock:

And here is a recent article, for interest, by Dr Bonnie Burstow on Mad in America: Protesting ECT: A Moral/Existential Calling:


"That noted, ECT has been proven conclusively to cause extensive brain damage (see Zarubenko et al., 2005) and extensive and enduring cognitive impairment — memory loss in particular (see Breggin 1991 and Sackeim et al., 2007). Moreover, however the so-called therapeutic effect may be theorized, it has been demonstrated to be no more effective than placebo (see, for example, Ross, 2006). Now admittedly, there have been ample studies that report effectiveness. As clearly demonstrated by Read and Bentall (2010) though, such studies are inherently flawed, with, for example, no criterion of improvement provided or improvement being predicated solely on the subjective opinion of caregivers."

"Additionally — and not surprisingly, given what has been revealed to date, as Breggin (1991) and Burstow (2015) have demonstrated — there is a one-to-one ratio between the damage done and the so-called therapeutic effect. An added reality which helps one ferret out the truth of what is happening here is that ECT is overwhelmingly given to two particular constituencies — women and the elderly. (For a strong feminist and anti-ageist analysis, see Burstow, 2006) Albeit the largest and most extensive study in ECT history (Sackeim et al., 2007) conclusively establishes that these are the very groups that incur the greatest damage from the procedure."

I hope that you are able to respond to this Email and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.   I cannot stay silent when I hear of women being subject to abuse in psychiatric settings.  I could not stay silent when it was happening to my son in Stratheden Hospital.  

Yours sincerely,

Chrys Muirhead (Mrs)"

cc Prof Douglas Steele, Dr David Christmas, Lesley McClay, Shona Robison, Joe Fitzpatrick, Deirdre Evans, Prof Steve Lawrie

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