Increase in use of electroshock is alarming – Quebec

Friends in Quebec stage a protest in Montreal,  Friday to bring attention to he alarming rise in use of  electroshock in Quebec,  highlighting the risks, and also just how little is known about it’s effects.

They also spotlight  other, non-violent approaches that instead of controlling people seek instead to enable them to connect and express themselves,  drawing on the arts and transcultural approaches that work by helping people learn and grow and without causing irreparable damage to brains and lives.

CBCNews |Montreal
7th May 2016

Increase in Quebec use of electroshock therapy alarming, advocates say

Psychiatrist says arts and culture can be used as alternative treatment for mental illness

By Melissa Fundira, CBC News Posted: May 07, 2016 6:18 PM ET Last Updated: May 07, 2016 6:18 PM ET
celine-cyrCéline Cyr, one of the founding members of the Comité Pare-Chocs, says she hopes the government will ban ECT, but fear that austerity measure will instead increase its use. (Melissa Fundira/CBC)
Dozens of protesters gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin in downtown Montreal to call for an end to the use of electroshock therapy in Quebec.

In electroshock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a brief electric pulse is applied to the scalp, causing a convulsion. It is often used to treat depression.

the event for last 10 years, said the treatment causes brain damage, proof of its effectiveness is “shaky,” and yet it is still being administered for several mental health issues from depression to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“It’s too destructive, it’s too risky and it’s still a controversial experimental treatment,” said founding member Céline Cyr. “It should not be allowed in 2016.”

Pare-Chocs commissions statistics on the use of the treatment every year, and the numbers are alarming, she said. The latest data collected by RAMQ, the provincial public health insurance agency, show that the use of ECT has:

Increased 58 per cent between 2011-2015 (6,761 to 10,690 ECT treatments)

Increased 25 per cent between 2014-2015 (the highest annual increase in the last five years)

Increased 400 per cent at Rimouski Hospital in the last year
Increased 70 cent at Chicoutimi Hospital in the last year

Nearly doubled at both Hull and Charles-LeMoyne hospitals in the last year

Of the people who received the treatment, 60 per cent were women — many of them elderly — and some shocks were even administered to youth, Cyr added.

Francine Santerre, another founding member, said psychiatrists would never prescribe ECT to their patients if they knew its side effects.

Santerre was given the treatment 167 times between 1980 and 1984 at Lakeshore General Hospital. She said she was misdiagnosed and now lives with the consequences of ECT.

“I have some problems of concentration, to learn and to think. I’m a little bit slow,” she said.
Francine Santerre, comité pare chocs

francine-santerre-comite-pare-chocsFrancine Santerre has been treated with ECT 167 times. She says she now suffers from memory loss and has a hard time concentrating. (Melissa Fundira/CBC)

The group hopes Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette will ban the treatment but Cyr said she was afraid austerity measure would only mean an increase in the use of ECT.
Art and culture as an alternative

dr-vitor-pordeusDr. Vitor Pordeus, a Brazilian psychiatrist who spoke at the protest, said ECT was an “aggressive” approach that was justified in scientific milieus that look at the body as a machine.
Dr. Vitor Pordeus

Dr. Vitor Pordeus, a psychiatrist from Brazil, says his own experience with mental illness has changed the way he sees the treatment of mental health. He now uses theatre with mental health patients and has seen an improvement in their communication skills. (Melissa Fundira/CBC)

“In this model of the body as machine, there are no spaces for subjectivity, spirituality, emotions, affections,” Pordeus said. “I was a doctor like this… until I had a mental disease myself.”

Pordeus said he suffered from severe depression and found a cure in theatre — an approach he has since used on his own patients.

“The clinical experience is very clear and there is no doubt that there are many options — education, culture, theatre, poetry, painting, sculpting, all kinds of expressive means — that help to heal mental diseases,” he said.

Pordeus, who is about to study transcultural psychiatry at McGill University, said “mental diseases are very, very related to blocks in communication,” and expressing oneself through the arts has been shown to improve communicational levels in those suffering from mental illness.

“All of them have improved [and] all of them have developed a higher level of communication,” he said, adding that many have also been able to get off medication.

Pordeus said treating mental illnesses through arts and culture, unlike ECT, is cheap, easy and has no side effects.

“We must accept this common challenge of promoting mental health through culture.”


If electroshock works so well, and the Docs are so smart, then  how come they cant tell when their shock machine ain’t got no juice? 


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2 Responses to Increase in use of electroshock is alarming – Quebec

  1. conneil39 says:

    I certainly support your protest. I am now ready to print my book -AFTERSHOCK – Raised Consciousness Crumbles the Rotten Psychiatric System. (Get a copy from my e-mail [$10]) Every one of us who has brain damage due to forced ECT (and body changing Psych drugs) must tell their story and join groups that protest to inform the public and compassionate therapists that there are alternative healings to bring mental balance. Do not support a continuation of damage-producing systems.


    • Hi conneil39

      Not with you at all on the “must” and command to “do not”.
      Even well meant its not for me or you or any of us to decide what others do.
      It’s a personal choice like any other.

      There’s more than enough folks in the world telling each other what to do.
      – that’s actually a big part the problem.

      I choose not to join that chorus.

      Still, that said good on you for telling your truth – each one of us who does so changes the landscape that we all live in.



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