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Activist and author Leonard Roy Frank, a long time supporter of MindFreedom International, attended the Food & Drug Administration hearing in January 2011 to speak out about the device used for electroshock. Here is both his written and spoken testimony, courtesy of Leonard.

Spoken and written testimony by Leonard Roy Frank to FDA ECT Hearing

Date Published:

Jan 27, 2011 04:00 AM

Author: Leonard Roy Frank

Source: MindFreedom

[2 PARTS: 1. WRITTEN TESTIMONY, 2. SPOKEN TESTIMONY]

Leonard Roy Frank

1. WRITTEN TESTIMONY (780 WORDS)

 

 

THE ELECTROSHOCK MACHINE IS AN INSTRUMENT OF INFAMY

 

My name is Leonard Roy Frank. I’m 78 years old, live in San Francisco and have been active in the struggle against electroshock for almost 40 years. In 1974 I co-founded the Network Against Psychiatric Assault (NAPA) and published The History of Shock Treatment, in 1978 and The Electroshock Quotationary, an e-book, in 2006. I am here today to urge the commission to recommend that electroshock devices not be reclassified from a “high-risk” to a “low-risk” category because these instruments of infamy can and often do cause tremendous harm.

 

I know this from having studied the professional literature on electroshock for many years, from having spoken with and read about hundreds of people who have been electroshocked, and from having undergone the procedure myself.

 

In 1963 I was forced to endure 85 shock procedures, 50 insulincomas and 35 electroshocks. As a result, my memory for the three most recent years of my life was obliterated. In addition, my high school and college educations were effectively destroyed. Every part of me – spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical – was less than what it had been. I believe I never recovered fully from these repeated brain assaults which rendered my life since then less abundant.

 

The brain is a terrible thing to damage, and brain damage is electroshock’s bottom line. The surest indicator of this brain damage is memory loss which is practically universal among survivors. But electroshock psychiatrists deny that electroshock causes brain damage. 

 

The American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force Report, The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy: Recommendations for Treatment, Training, and Privileging (2nd edition, 2001) stated that “In light of the accumulated body of data dealing with structural effects of ECT, ‘brain damage’ should not be included [in the ECT consent form] as a potential risk of treatment.”

 

This is one of modern psychiatry’s biggest lies. The scientific evidence contradicts this claim. The best example of such evidence I’m familiar with is the 1957 report by psychiatrist David Impastato, a leading electroshock advocate who some believe introduced electroshock in the United States in 1940. In the largest and most detailed review of electroshock-related deaths ever published, Impastato studied 254 deaths, all but 40 from published reports, and found that “66 patients” died from “cerebral” causes. In other words, they died from electroshock-caused brain damage. There’s no mention of Impastato’s findings in the APA’s Task Force Report; nor is the study listed among the 1,200 articles in the Report’s reference section.

 

The telling remarks at a meeting of electroshock psychiatrists by another leading electroshock proponent supplies anecdotal support for the fact that the procedure causes brain damage. Psychiatrist Paul H. Hoch, a past commissioner of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, said “This brings us for a moment to a discussion of the brain damage produced by electroshock.... Is a certain amount of brain damage not necessary in this type of treatment? Frontal lobotomy indicates that improvement takes place by a definite damage of certain parts of the brain.”

 

Electroshock psychiatrists have had more than 70 years to prove that their procedure is “safe and effective,” and they haven’t been able to. During that time, with no moral or scientific justification, more than 7,000,000 people in the United States alone have been electroshocked. Even today more than 100,000 people a year in this country are being electroshocked, along with— according to one electroshock psychiatrist’s estimate — another 1 to 2 million people throughout the world. The time is now to call the psychiatric profession to account for its inhumanity and criminality, and the Food and Drug Administration is the place to begin. I say “criminality” because electroshock is rarely, if ever, administered with genuine informed consent: the absence of the brain-damage risk from the consent form makes the electroshock consent process entirely fraudulent. If the law considers touching another person without their consent an assault, then administering an electric shock with an electroshock device to another person without their genuine informed consent should be regarded as aggravated assault, a felony punishable by a term in a state prison.  

 

Because it destroys memories and ideas, electroshock violates these hallmarks of American liberty: freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. This leads me to say, there is no place for electroshock in a free society, and no society where it is sanctioned or tolerated is justified in calling itself free.

 

If the body is the temple of the spirit, the brain may be seen as the body’s inner sanctum, the holiest of holy places. To invade, violate, and injure the brain, as electroshock unfailingly does, is a crime against the spirit, a desecration of the soul.

 

 

     2. SPOKEN TESTIMONY (575 WORDS)

 

My name is Leonard Roy Frank. I’m 78 years old, live in San Francisco and have been active in the struggle against electroshock for almost 40 years. I am here today to urge the commission to recommend that electroshock devices not be reclassified from a “high-risk” to a “low-risk” category because these instruments of infamy can and often do cause tremendous harm.

 

In 1963 I was forced to endure 85 shock procedures, 50 insulincomas and 35 electroshocks. As a result, my memory of the three most recent years of my life was obliterated. In addition, my high school and college educations were effectively destroyed. Every part of me – spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical – was less than what it had been. I believe I never recovered fully from these repeated brain assaults which rendered my life since then less abundant.

 

The brain is a terrible thing to damage, and brain damage is electroshock’s bottom line. The surest indicator of this brain damage is memory loss which is practically universal among survivors. But electroshock psychiatrists deny that electroshock causes brain damage. 

 

The American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force Report, The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy (2001), the most authoritative text on the subject, stated that “In light of the accumulated body of data dealing with structural effects of ECT, ‘brain damage’ should not be included [in the ECT consent form] as a potential risk of treatment.”

 

This is one of modern psychiatry’s biggest lies. The scientific evidence contradicts this claim. The best example of such evidence I’m familiar with is the 1957 report by psychiatrist David Impastato, a leading electroshock advocate. In the largest and most detailed review of electroshock-related deaths ever published, Impastato studied 254 deaths, all but 40 from published reports, and found that “66 patients” died from “cerebral” causes. In other words, they died from electroshock-caused brain damage.

 

Electroshock psychiatrists have had more than 70 years to prove that their procedure is safe and beneficial, and they haven’t been able to. During that time, with no moral or scientific justification, more than 7,000,000 people in the United States alone have been electroshocked. Even today more than 100,000 people a year in this country are being electroshocked.  

 

The time is now to call the psychiatric profession to account for its cruelty and criminality, and the Food and Drug Administration is the place to begin. I say “criminality” because electroshock is rarely, if ever, administered with genuine informed consent: the absence of the brain-damage risk from the consent form makes the electroshock consent process entirely fraudulent. If the law considers touching another person without their consent an assault, then the law should regard  administering an electric shock with an electroshock device to another person without their genuine informed consent as aggravated assault, a felony punishable by a term in a state prison.

 

Because it destroys memories and ideas, electroshock violates these hallmarks of American liberty: freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. This leads me to say, there is no place for electroshock in a free society, and no society where it is sanctioned or tolerated is justified in calling itself free.

 

If the body is the temple of the spirit, the brain may be seen as the body’s inner sanctum, the holiest of holy places. To invade, violate, and injure the brain, as electroshock unfailingly does, is a crime against the spirit, a desecration of the soul.

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Ron Unger, chair, MindFreedom Lane County affiliate

Ron Unger LCSW is both an human rights activist and a therapist who specializes in alternative approaches for "psychosis." Said Ron, "As a young person, I had my own experiences that could have been labeled 'psychotic' but got through them without mental health system intervention. I am proud to be a member of MindFreedom, the world's leading coalition fighting for radical reform in the mental health system!" Ron created MFI's "Truth Injection Campaign." You can find out more about Ron's views on his blog [see 'related content' link below image view].
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