Thursday, March 02, 2006

Personal Testimony of Psychiatric Victim

Hello everyone, my name is Sue Clark and I am from Ottawa, Ontario and I would have liked to have been at the Inquiry into Psychiatry, the Historic Public Hearings in Toronto but due to health problems I was unable to attend.

I was tortured by psychiatry for l8 years of my life from 1972 to 1990. I was hospitalized 20 times, and in 5 different hospitals. I was given 7 different psychiatric labels/diagnoses, and given heavy doses of all the major tranquilizers and all various forms of antidepressants, and given 5 electroshock treatments and given behaviour modification.

Since 1990, I have been off psychiatric drugs/medications and I have had no hospital admissions to a psychiatric ward. I have had no relapses since that time.

I am now an antipsychiatry activist who is fighting to end electroshock therapy all over the world. I was hired for two years in the 1990s by the Royal Ottawa Hospital in their consumer as expert program and I was hired because of my antipsychiatry beliefs. Marion Crow was my boss. I have advocated for my peers in hospitals, at court, and at social services. I am writing a book this year about my experiences with the mental health system. I am the Chair of the Mindfreedom Committee to End Electroshock.

I was a psychiatric inmate at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, the Monfort Hospital, the Queensway Hospital, the Ottawa General Hospital, all hospitals in Ottawa, and also I was at Brockville Psychiatric Hospital in Ontario.

At the age of l7 years old, I ran away from my upper middle class home in Ottawa. My father was the director of a translation section in an Ottawa federal department and had a high paying salary and my mother was a housewife. I wanted for nothing material wise, I had the best of food, clothes, yearly vacations, and lived in a big house that Paul Anka used to live in at 87 Clearview Ave in Ottawa. I was not given any love nor any respect by my parents who violated my physical and psychological boundaries continually during my childhood. I was a very frightened and nervous child in my home. I had no one to run to for help or so I thought. My childhood experiences continue to haunt me to this day.

My mother and father tortured my brother Chris and I - physically and emotionally. I was tortured by my parents for l7 years of my life. My Uncle Lyman sexually abused me at the age of 4 years old. My father was a wife beater and so was his father. My father's brother Gerry molested his two daughters for years. My father would yell at me and call me names and kick me and grab me and punch me.

My mother would strangle me, throw me down a flight of stairs, beat me on the arms and legs, throw things at me, jump on me when I was sleeping and twist my arms and legs, throw me into doors and walls, slap me across the face, call me names and yell and scream at me. My mother beat all the animals we had. She put my cousin Marcel's head in a toilet bowl for soiling his pants, and beat my cousin Robin for returning home with an umbrella she gave Robin to use but it got broken at school.

I grew up in a home where on the outside everything looked perfect but on the inside it was chaotic and it was a very violent and unsafe environment to live in.

My brother and I hid the abuse we suffered at home from most family members and friends and from school. My mother threatened us should we ever tell anyone of the abuse happening at home. My father and mother did not use alcohol nor drugs but their behaviour was out of control. Some family members knew of the abuse that was happening to my brother and I but kept silent and turned a blind eye to the abuse. In the 1970s, child abuse was a taboo subject and rarely spoken about. These days child abuse is covered in the media and it is not a taboo subject anymore.

At the age of l7 years old with no money in my pocket and not knowing about any community resources, I ran away from home in February of 1972. I called a high school friend and she let me stay at her home with her brother while her parents were away in Florida. After about a month while staying at my friend's house in Ottawa, her parents called to say they were coming home from Florida and they did not know I was staying at their house. My friend told me I had to go. I was homeless and had no one to turn to. I was all alone with no one to help me.

I was a wounded soul looking for help to ease my emotional pain of having been abused for l7 years by my parents.

The school psychologist at my high school called me into the office. She asked me why I was missing so much school and I told her about the abuse at home. She suggested I go to the Royal Ottawa Hospital on Carling Ave and someone could talk to me and I could get some help. So I agreed, not knowing what the Royal Ottawa Hospital was all about.

I walked into the psychiatric industry for l8 years as I made my first step into the Royal Ottawa Hospital in March of 1972. A psychiatrist and a nurse were waiting to speak to me in the Emergency section of the hospital. I told them the whole history of my family and the abuse I suffered at home. They suggested since my nerves were bad I should stay for a few days at the hospital and they would help me. I had no money, and no one to turn to. I did not know about welfare, legal aid, food banks or emergency shelters and never asked as I did not know about these services, and whether they existed at all in 1972 in Ottawa.

I was admitted to the Whitney 4 ward of the Royal Ottawa Hospital. I was 125 pounds at the time of my admission to the hospital. Right away I was given heavy doses of tranquilizers whereby I had no co-ordination as I walked down the hallway and had to cling onto the walls to walk, my vision was blurry from the psychiatric medication and I had a dry mouth and I slept for 20 hours a day. I got up to eat meals and to talk to my visitors. Often they had to wake me up as I was sleeping.

While in the hospital, I signed papers that I was told "don't worry about what you are signing". My vision was blurry and I did not know what type of papers I was signing - probably drug study forms.

I gained 30 pounds in the three months I was there. I developed an eating disorder on the ward that continues to this day as when the snacks came by I would grab the cakes and cookies and used food to make me feel better because I was locked up and could not get out. I used food as a coping tool. I am seeing a therapist these days to deal with my overeating disorder.

I left after three months and went to live (with) my abusers, my parents as I had no where to go. Living with my family got me depressed so I was admitted to the Royal Ottawa again. This happened three times and until February of the next year whereby I was threatened with "going to Brockville Psychiatric Hospital" if you do not get better.

On the Whitney Ward, I was on a locked ward and could not understand why I was being locked up, what did I do to deserve being locked up? I had bad nerves from having been abused severely for l7 years by my parents. I had to line up for my medications like a herd of sheep. I got angry and I told the staff what I thought. I was vocal, and loud. I was protesting the way I was being treated. I was treated like a child, talked down to, not believed, had my freedom stripped away from me.

I would bang on my locker in my hospital bedroom whereby four orderlies would come down the hallway and I would run away for dear life and they would corner me and then drag me to my bedroom, and flip me onto my stomach onto my bed. A nurse with a long needle was standing there waiting to inject me with sedatives to knock me out for quiet a while. This was called a "chemical restraint". I was not a compliant patient, I was a shit disturber on the ward. I told the staff what I thought of them and it was not nice language. I got many "chemical restraints" at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. Shortly after trying to hang myself in my room at the Royal Ottawa
Hospital in March of 1973 on the Whitney 4 ward. I was transferred by ambulance to Ward H of the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital in Ontario, 60 miles from Ottawa. This huge complex was near a main highway.

On Ward H another locked ward, I was again given heavy doses of psychiatric medications, had my dignity and freedom stripped away from me. Where were my human rights? I was never told about a patient rights advisor, or legal aid. The Royal Ottawa Hospital never told me about my rights either.

After being at Brockville Psychiatric Hospital for three months, Dr. Louis Sipos told me he was going to give me electroshock therapy. I asked Dr. Sipos what that was. He told me they would put electricity through my brain. I was frightened as he told me that and I answered Dr. Louis "hey, if you put electricity through my brain, it will fry my brain like an egg and scramble it". Dr. Louis said electroshock therapy was safe, and I protested with him and said I did not want electroshock. He told me he was going to give me ECT and that was that.

So on the morning of my electroshock therapy, apparently a peer of my ward told me many years later as I forgot this part in my memory, as the staff tried to bring me down the hallway to the electroshock room, I yelled and screamed as loud as I could, I bit the staff and kicked them as I did not want to go to the ECT room. I yelled for someone to help me and not let me go into the ECT room, but no one came to my rescue, no one helped me.

Eventually the staff forced me into the ECT room. This I do remember, however. The room had white walls and next to the bed there was steel box with wires coming out of it. I was told to lay on my back while a nurse gave me a needle in my arm. I was looking around the room and wanted out, I wanted to escape. I yelled to the staff I did not want ECT. No one listened to me. I was frightened as I looked around the room and at the staff. It was a traumatizing experience for me that still haunts me to this day. A rubber band was wrapped around my
forehead and a rubber mallet put between my teeth. Then the psychiatrist turned on the shock machine and zapped me with electricity through my brain.

I woke up afterwards after being given the ECT against my will. I was put into a wheelchair and did not know who I was, where I was and what I was doing in a hospital. That lasted for about a day. Eventually I remembered where I was and who I was. I was angry that I was tortured by the electroshock and by the doctor and staff and no one came to my aid.

On my 5th electroshock, my heart stopped and I was revived. I received no more electroshocks after that. About 2 months later I was released from the hospital and sent back to Ottawa and a social worker drove me to a group home in Ottawa for women who just got out of psychiatric hospitals which was located near Sussex Ave.

Since the time I had electroshock which was 33 years ago, I have problems with permanent memory loss, problems with concentrating and learning anything new. This has impeded my life significantly. I have a difficult time to remember anything from hour to hour let alone from day to day. I forget to mark things down in my date book and I have forgotten appointments, meetings, trips, conferences, and the list goes on. People come to me to this day and say "do you remember me" and I don't know who they are. I can't remember some of my neighbours names who I see on a daily basis. Sometimes I can't even remember my friends' names.

I can't remember from day to day, week to week, month to month or from year to year so my brother and my boyfriend often recall the memories from my past for me. They tell me what happened during that time and as the years have gone by.

You can't get a job if you can't remember anything, you can't go to school to get a good education if you can't remember anything. You have to be able to remember to do everything in life. Marking things down doesn't help me much as I forget where I wrote the things down I have to remember.

Electroshock therapy, ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, electrotherapy, and all the names that are used to describe it must be banned, it must be stopped.

ECT is brutal, unethical, torture, and it is a crime against humanity. l4,000 ECTs are given to people in Ontario yearly. 70% of ECT is given to women and out of that percentage more than half of electroshock is routinely given to elderly women, a form of elder abuse.

100,000 Americans get ECT yearly in the USA. Since ECT was introduced in the USA in 1940, it is estimated that 6 million Americans have had ECT, and it is estimated that 1 to 2 million people a year get ECT yearly worldwide.

ECT is unethical because there is no proper informed consent for ECT. ECT always causes brain damage Dr. Peter R. Breggin a psychiatrist from New York State states that. He has written several books one of which is called "Electroshock: Its Brain Disabling Effects. Dr. Breggin states that contemporary ECT has more electricity than before when it is given and it is more damaging.

ECT is a big money making machine. In the USA, ECT is a 3 billion dollar a year industry. In 2000, a Columbia University study found that ECT is so ineffective at ridding patients of their depression that nearly all of those who received it, relapsed within six months of having had the treatment.

Electroshock involves the searing of the brain with more volts of electricity than you will find in your house. Between 180 to 460 volts of electricity sends a current pulsing through the brain creating a grand mal seizure which is identical to an epileptic fit. The administering psychiatrist usually looks for the curling up or the twitching of the toes to determine if the shock has "worked". Without this sign, multiple shocks have been given until the desired effect is achieved. Today MMECT also known as multiple monitored ECT can induce up to 8
seizures in one treatment.

Slovenia is the world's first shock free zone in the world.

There have been numerous scientific studies done during the past 50 to 60 years that have proven the brain disabling effects of ECT. Yet, ECT is making a big comeback and why is that. ECT is quick and ECT brings in big dollars.

I deem ECT as torture.

I am the Chair of the Mindfreedom Committee to End Electroshock which is part of Mindfreedom International which is comprised of over 100 sponsor groups and well as individuals as members who are all fighting psychiatric oppression.

On July 28, 2001 the Board of Directors of Mindfreedom International wrote the "Resolution Against Electroshock - A Crime Against Humanity" which states:

1. Electroshock always causes brain damage.

2. Electroshock always causes permanent memory loss.

3. Electroshock always causes learning disabilities and other
intellectual impairments.

4. Electroshock often causes fear or terror in patients

5. Even by conventional psychiatric standards, electroshock has an
extremely high relapse rate - over 70% within one year

6. Electroshock does not significantly relieve depression or prevent
suicide. In fact several research studies indicate that electroshock
can aggravate or trigger depression and suicide attempts: the Nobel
Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway killed himself shortly after
undergoing a second series of electroshocks.

7. Psychiatrists frequently violate the ethical-legal principle of
informed consent when prescribing/ordering electroshock. Subjects are
not informed or are misinformed about the procedure's harmful effects,
nor are they informed about non-injurious, non-medical approaches such
as counselling (including peer counselling, self help groups, and life
style changes)

8. Electroshock discriminates against highly vulnerable people. Its
chief targets are women and the elderly. Children are also being
subjected to electroshock in growing numbers. In the United States and
Canada, 70% of electroshock is administered to women and upwards of
half of those undergoing electroshock are 60 years of age and older.

9. Electroshock machines have never been independently inspected or
approved for their medical safety. Since 1978, the Food and Drug
Administration of the United States government has officially placed
shock machines in its most dangerous medical device category "class
III" hazardous and unsafe.

10. Electroshock has caused many deaths. Such deaths are routinely
minimized or underreported in the medical psychiatric literature.
Rarely are psychiatrists or electroshock facilities requested to report
electroshock caused deaths or any information concerning the use of
electroshock to governmental regulatory bodies.

I want the Ontario Ministry of Health to put a moratorium on the use of electroshock therapy in Ontario and have a public inquiry into the use of electroshock therapy.

I want all other provincial ministries of health to do the same in Canada.

Remember Jean-Yves Barrette, one of my friend's brother who went into a coma after having had his 5th electroshock. He was 42 years old and had a wife and a teenage son. Jean Yves never recovered from his coma and died 7 years later in an Ottawa long term care facility. I visited Jean Yves while he was in a coma. It was a frightening sight to see a man who was in his prime of life and to see him curled up in his bed in a coma. Jean Yves suffered greatly and it was caused by ECT. That could have been me and it could have been you or someone you know.

Electroshock is barbaric, cruel and torture. It traumatizes me to this day thinking of when I was in the ECT room and with all the nurses and the psychiatrist dressed in white with white walls surrounding them and I was laying on a stretcher with white sheets next to a little steel box full of wires and electricity ready to be used on me.

Electroshock must be stopped today and no one should have to go through what I did. This is my personal true story of what happened to me in my family, and in psychiatric hospitals.

I speak out in the name of social justice for you all listening today to help me and others to end the torture of electroshock worldwide.

We all need to work together and make Canada the number 2 country in the world to be a shock free zone. Slovenia is the world's first shock free zone in the world today. We need to organize, write to our members of parliament, and our provincial members of parliament and tell them electroshock is torture and put a moratorium on electroshock today.

Please write letters to your newspapers, and tell your family and friends my story. This story will be posted on my website at: or you can email me at: and I will send you my story.

I would like to thank all the psychiatric survivors who like me continue to speak out about the atrocities of electroshock and the psychiatric survivor groups in Canada and the USA and all over the world who work so hard everyday to pass out the message to the world - electroshock is barbaric and brutal and it must be stopped. Please remember those who had ECT and died. We must not forget them.

I would also like to thank Don Weitz who is one of my mentors and who has given me support and guidance for over 20 years now and for his work for over 30 years exposing electroshock therapy. I would also like to thank Bonnie Burstow for her work in speaking out against electroshock too.

Thank you for listening to my electroshock personal story today.

The truth shall prevail.

Sue Clark, Chair
Mindfreedom Committee To End Electroshock
Telephone: (613) 721-l833
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

"Electroshock is a crime against humanity"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like she's making everything up not very believable

5:16 AM  

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