Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dr John Read-White Knight

Dr John Read is a brave man, and an honest one. Going up against the entrenched and dogmatic views of the forces of psychiatry leaves him open to all sorts of slander such as that which has befallen other good men before him like Dr Thomas Szasz and Dr Peter Breggin. They also spoke the truth about ECT and were publicly reviled and ridiculed. All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Hats off to Dr Ford for not doing nothing.

In a major article in the New Zealand Herald on 30th March 2005, Psychologist Dr John Read spelled out in detail the truth about electo-convulsive therapy. Some quotes:

“...when ECT was invented it was argued, in medical journals, that it worked precisely because it caused brain damage. It was thought that some people were better off with fewer memories and lower intelligence.”

“But the history of medicine includes many treatments later found to be ineffective and dangerous. In the mental-health field, these include surprise baths, rotating chairs and, more recently, lobotomies. At the time, the doctors genuinely believed they were helping people. So, no doubt, do the dwindling number of psychiatrists still using ECT.”

“At this rate of attrition ECT will have gone the same way as lobotomies before 2010. Use has been declining in most countries, except the United States, for some time.”

“And why are so many New Zealanders given ECT against their will? Clearly our regulatory controls are insufficient to prevent excesses. I hope the Government will be bold enough to make New Zealand the first country to render ECT illegal. It is already hardly used at all in many countries. Parliament should at least consider ensuring that all New Zealanders have the right to accurate, comprehensive information about the limited benefits and the serious harmful effects of ECT. This is far from the case at the moment.”

“Parliament should certainly insist that we all, not just those deemed competent to know what is best for us - as recommended by the report - have an absolute right to refuse ECT if we wish.”

Dr. John Read is the Senior Lecturer at the Psychology Department at The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

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