News & Newsletter



Toddlers being given electroshock in Australia

There is disturbing news from Melbourne, Australia. Toddlers are being given electroshock in Australia. An article appeared in the Melbourne Sun on Sunday, January 25, 2009. The title of the article is called “Child Shock Therapy”. The link for this article is:,21985,24958938-2862,00.html

January 25, a Melbourne newspaper published an article about electroshock (electroconvulsive treatment, ECT) use in Victoria, a state in southeastern Australia. Among other facts, it reported that children under 14 years of age, including some who were 4 years old and younger, underwent 203 ECT “treatments” in 2007-2008. Health professionals usually ignore such horrific news, but this time three professionals have responded with two important articles and a thoughtful letter to the editor denouncing this practice and the use of ECT in general. In addition, two readers of the original article have condemned the electroshocking of children in comments posted on the paper’s site.
2. Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin’s “Electroshock for Children and Involuntary Adults,” was published in The Huffington Post on January 30. The link is:
3. Psychologist Bruce E. Levine’s “Are We Really Okay with Electroshocking Toddlers?” was also published in the Post on the same day. The link is:
4.Neurologist Fred A. Baughman Jr.’s letter to the editor of the Herald Sun(Melbourne), dated January 27, has been posted to several listservs whose subscribers are critical of mainstream psychiatry. To my knowledge, the newspaper has not been published it.
To the Editor:

The medical profession–in this case Australia’s–that does not rise up in outrage against the abomination of electroshocking children must view itself as morally bankrupt. Here being “mentally disturbed” in toddlers, like everything else in psychiatry, has become a diagnosis. Instead, this is a criminal act and needs being criminalized. It needs pointing out that the bioethicist quoted here, Prof Nicholas Tonti-Filippini has no ethics (where does his income come from?) and that Psychiatrist Paul Skerritt, of the Australian Medical Association who says ECT “rewires” a previously mis-wired brain should be advised that there is no such thing as “rewiring” the brain. The fact of the matter is that there is no physical treatment in psychiatry, all of their drugs included, that do not act on symptoms only, by causing diffuse physical damage to the brain.

After testifying to the Parliament of Western Australia in June, 2004 that ADHD was a fraud I wrote the Australian Medical Association and several other Australian medical specialty groups pointing out their obligation to speak out forthrightly (to me and, more importantly to the special committee on ADHD of the Western Australia Parliament) on the fraudulent representation of ADHD to be a disease (when, of course, it is not). The AMA (Australia’s) responded assuring me they were to consider the issue after which they would write to me again. They never did. Their medical officialdom seems to have found making “patients” of normal children as much to their liking as does ours here in the US. That I do not dispute.
5. Dr. Baughman wrote an addendum to his letter to the editor on January 28.
To the Editor:
The electroshocking, electroconvulsing (we dare not use the words “therapy” or “treatment”) of 4 year olds, or of children of any age, is a stain, more indelible all the time, on that nation’s medical profession, government, and, upon the citizens themselves. I urge those who would leave it in place to go see it performed, even on an adult, or view films, especially of the persons status after the assault. You will come away convinced, as I am–a neurologist dedicated to protecting the brain–that electro-shock should be criminalized and totally banned.
6. Eleni Hale, “Child Shock Therapy,” Herald Sun (Melbourne), January 25, 2009. The link is:,21985,24958938-2862,00.html
Children younger than four who are considered mentall disturbed are being treated with controversial electric shock treatment.

Medicare figures show the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy has tripled in Victoria in the private health sector alone in six years.

A VicHealth report confirms more than 18,000 treatments were conducted in Victoria in 2007-2008.

Federal Government statistics show the use of ECT – an electric shock delivered straight to the brain – in the state’s private health system increased from 1944 treatments in 2001-2002 to 6009 in 2007-2008.

About 12,000 treatments were performed in the public health system last financial year.

Medicare statistics record 203 ECT treatments on children younger than 14 – including 55 aged four and younger.

Two of the under-4s were in Victoria.

Last financial year, 6197 ECT treatments were given to Victorians against their will.

This news comes as the Western Australian Government moves to ban ECT procedures for children under 12.

The Victorian Government would not say if it would follow.

The figures have shocked some experts.

Prof Pat McGorry, chair of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, said ECT treatment for children whose brains were still forming was worrying.

“That is of great concern, a very worrying trend and we need to know why,” he said.

“Why has its use increased at that rate? I am shocked and amazed that children that young are being treated this way.”

Though doctors are still mystified as to how it works, ECT is used to treat mental disorders such as manic depression and psychosis.

The figures show nearly three times as many women had shock treatment compared with men.

Side effects include memory loss, seizures and headaches.

Modern treatment involves anaesthetic before each ECT treatment, which occur at intervals during a few weeks.

Increasing numbers of patients who had been forced into ECT treatment were contacting the Mental Health Legal Centre claiming they were tortured, Vivienne Topp, a lawyer and policy adviser said.

Bioethicist Assoc Prof Nicholas Tonti-Filippini supported ECT on children, saying some toddlers were “disturbed”.

Psychiatrist Dr Paul Skerritt, of the Australian Medical Association, said ECT sent the patient into an “epileptic” type fit, which helped rewire the brain.

“It is one of the most effective and safe treatments, though I would not be applauding its use in children. These figures are very high,” he said.

7. Two readers’ comments on Hale’s article posted on the Herald Sun’swebsite. Others wishing to comment may do so by going to the link which provides an easy-to-use form:,21985,24958938-2862,00.html

Medicare statistics record 203 ECT treatments on children younger than 14 – including 55 aged four and younger. Two of the under-4s were in Victoria. Bioethicist Assoc Prof Nicholas Tonti-Filippini supported ECT on children, saying some toddlers were “disturbed”.’ My comment: This is appalling and it really shames our nation. Just totally disgusted. Posted by: Natalie Mankinen ofFinland

The medicalization of society at large is rife, not only evidenced in this example of the use of Electroconvlusive Treatment but in a range of methods employed to socially control the behaviour of others. To subject children to the intrusion of ET and to exploit those whose responsibility it is to care for such children, namely their parents and usually their mothers, is tantamount to blatant social abuse of a far-reaching kind. An urgent public outcry is warranted. Posted by: Gloria Hill of Canbera

This was prepared by Leonard Roy Frank, January 31, 2009.


Children labeled “autistic” are now being targeted for electroshock (ECT). Psychiatrist Lee Wachtel of Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute reports on “the first documented case of a young autistic child who successfully improved self-injury behaviors after receiving ECT.” The experimental subject was an 8 year-old-boy “known as D.”

The Johns Hopkins News-Letter

Case study suggests new therapy for autism


Issue date: 2/26/09

In recent years autism has been the focus of much attention. Parents worry about identifying the disorder in their children at a young age.

Scientists puzzle over the combination of biological and environmental factors that lead to autism, as well as how best to treat this enigmatic condition.

A new case report suggests an intriguing new approach for correcting some of the most severe behavioral problems associated with autism.

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by deficits in language, social and behavioral skills. Autism represents a broad spectrum of disorders that range from mild to severe. A particularly severe symptom includes self-injury, or the act of hitting oneself so that it leads to tissue damage.

Many symptoms of autism are treated through medications or behavioral approaches. Both approaches often work well for individuals and have even proven effective in preventing self-injury.

Lee Wachtel of the Kennedy Krieger Institute presented a case report of an eight-year-old autistic boy with severe self-injury behaviors that were not responsive to treatment in a recent journal article.

Wachtel collaborated with colleagues at Hopkins Hospital and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and they proposed the controversial treatment of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in this case.

They report that this boy, known as D., maintained self-injurious behaviors despite many different medical and behavioral interventions. This boy often was restrained with padded equipment to prevent serious injury from occurring. However, he still attempted to make hitting movements while restrained.

When observed without restraints over a 24-hour period, D. was reported to have hit himself in the head an average of 109 times per hour. Because of the high frequency of self-injury incidents, D. was unable to participate in structured school programs or family activities.

D.’s physicians felt that this damaging behavior might be ameliorated through ECT. ECT maintains a link with the shock therapy of early psychiatry, which was used on patients with a variety of mental illnesses.

ECT is still widely used as a treatment for severe depression. Wachtel and colleagues report that ECT has been successful in improving self-injurious behaviors in patients with mental illnesses, yet it is not often used in young children.

Wachtel and colleagues were able to successfully treat D. with ECT, resulting in a large decrease in the amount of self-injurious incidents per hour. He dropped from 109 hits per hour to 19. This drastic decrease allows D. the possibility of an improved quality of life. He is able to attend educational programs, behavioral therapies and family activities.

A main cause of concern for children exhibiting this behavior is the risk of a head or brain injury, which could possibly be life-threatening. Without ECT treatment, D.’s only options were to remain confined by padded restraints or to risk severe injury.

ECT was administered three times a week for a period of five weeks. In each administration, D. was given an anesthetic and muscle relaxant before the therapy commenced.

D. received bilateral treatment, which means that one electrode was placed on either side of the head. Electrical impulses flow through the electrodes and into the brain.

While the exact mechanism of how ECT works is not known, the authors postulate that several neurotransmitter systems may be affected. These systems may help reverse some of the characteristic behaviors of autism.

Wachtel notes that this is the first documented case of a young autistic child who successfully improved self-injury behaviors after receiving ECT.

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This is Newsletter # 1 (January 2009)

by Sue Clark-Wittenberg (director of the ICBE)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This is our newest website for the ICBE. The website has lots of info on its man pages.

If you have any info the ICBE should know about, please email Sue at:

or call her at 613-721-1833.

I am outraged that toddlers are being given electoshock in Australia. This has got to stop.

As I sit writing this newletter this morning, I am thinking of Ray Sandford from Minnesota. This man is being forced to have electroshock today. He has had dozens of electroshocks against his will at the Mercy Hospital. He is being tortured with electroshock. Electroshock is a crime against humanity.

Electroshock must be banned now.

See on this website the page called “Action Alerts” for all the info on how to stop

Ray from being tortured with ECT. I have spoken to Ray on two occasions. Ray is a nice man. It scares him that he has to have ECT every other Wednesday. He doesn’t want ECT at all.

I remember when I had ECT forced upon me back in 1973 at the Brockville

Psychiatric Hospital. I was scared for having ECT. On my 5th ECT, my heart

stopped and I had to revived. My ECTs were discontinued them.

ECT always causes brain damage 100% of the time. Go the page on this website

called “ECT & Brain Damage” and read Dr. Peter R. Breggin’s article called

“Disturbing News for Patients and Shock Doctors Alike”. Dr. Breggin discusses in

this article the ECT study done by Dr. Harold Sackeim. See

Two months ago I was watching tv with my husband Steven. I turned around to

him and said “what is your name”. My husband looked at me and laughed and

thought I was joking but I was not, I had forgotten my husband’s name. Steven

realized I was serious and said “my name is Steven Wittenberg. That was a scary

moment for me not knowing what my husband’s name was.

I suffer from permanent memory loss and have difficulty learning anything new since I had ECT in 1973. I went to Carleton University in 1995. I had to leave after one term as I could no retain, remember what I was learning.

ECT robbed me of a substantial career. What would I have become if I did not have ECT…. a doctor… a lawyer….who knows…we will never know.

You can’t get a good job without a good education, and you can’t learn if you can’t remember.

Prior to ECT, I had a photographic memory and rarely took books home to study.

I usually remembered the first time what I was learning. I was always second in

my class.

I live with the devastating effects everyday of this brain damaging ECT since 1973.

I survived to tell about ECT. Some people have died as a result of having ECT.

Some have gone into a coma. I saw first hand with my own eyes what it is like to

see someone after they had ECT and went into a coma for life never to recover.

I saw this person in Ottawa and believe you me it was a disturbing sight to see.

That could have been me, and it could have been you.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) and the American Psychiatric Associaiton (APA) say on their position papers about ECT and say ECT is safe and so are the ECT machines. That is not true at all. There have lawsuits won by ECT victims and ECT machine lawsuits won by people. See and see the lawsuits section. The ICBE has held protests at the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) in Ottawa at their headquarters on Laurier Ave. and will continue to do so. I spoke at the 1993 CPA and APA conference in Toronto. I was on a panel discussing ECT. Dr. Breggin was on the panel also. Don Weitz of Toronto taped the session at the conference for his then radio show on CKLN. Don Weitz has been a long time anti-ECT activist.

The bottom line is that electroshock (ECT) always causes brain damage and the time has come for all of

us to ban ECT universally. With your help we can do it. See the section on this website called

“Political Action to take”. I have a vision that ECT will be banned all over the world. It will take time

but it can do done and it will be done. The worldwide movement to ban electroshock is demanding that

this 70 year old barbaric form of torture called ECT end today.

A picture of Sue and Dr. Breggin at the Royal Ottawa Hospital

A picture of Sue and Dr. Breggin at the Royal Ottawa Hospital

Dr. Breggin visited the Royal Ottawa Hospital in the early 90s. Dr. Breggin spoke at a seminar held by the ROH. I was there as well and so was Dr. Joel Jeffries from the Clarke Institute in Toronto.

I worked at the Royal Ottawa Hospital (ROH) now called the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center. Sue worked in the 1990s as a speaker for Consumer-As-Expert program run by the Education Department at the ROH. Marian Crow was the co-ordinator of this program. Sue discussed antipsychiatry issues. I was a former patient at the ROH and was admitted there many times in the past.

The Consumer-As-Expert program shut down in the mid 90s due to a lack of funding. Marian Crow is one of my friends.

I have been free of psychiatry and psychiatric pills and hospital admissions since 1990.

Read my life story where I was psychiatrized for 18 years in and out of psychiatric hospitals in Ottawa and in Ontario. See my website called “The Sue Clark Story” at the URL:

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