By Cronan Scanlon
A FORMER psychiatric patient who underwent electric shock treatment at St Conal’s Hospital in Letterkenny eighteen years ago has described the practise as “barbaric.”
Mr Eoin Toomey (45) was speaking to the Donegal News ahead of tomorrow’s (Saturday) International Day of Protest Against Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
ECT is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. Some practitioners argue that this treatment seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
However, Mr Toomey says that experts such as renowned psychologist and mental health researcher, Dr John Read, disagree.
Dr Read is Professor of Clinical Psychology in the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society.
The Rathmullan native was just 26 when he suffered a breakdown after graduating from college with a Masters in science.
“I was admitted to the psychiatric unit in Letterkenny and was advised to undergo ECT, however, I didn’t know what I was doing when I signed those forms,” he explained.
“To mark International Day of Protest Against ECT, I am considering staging a silent protest outside the hospital. However, I’m finding it difficult to get psych (psychiatric) survivors to go public and join me.
“From what I’ve read, and in my experience, it has been proven that ECT damages the brain and leads to massive memory loss. Some professionals say ECT does have benefits, but Dr Reid critiques a lot of studies on the issues and believes there are a lot of faults in their findings. I would agree with him and add that it’s a barbaric, ineffective and damaging therapy.”
Eoin stressed that he was not being critical of the health service, adding that he has a lot of good friends working in the area of psychiatry in the HSE.
We asked the HSE if ECT is still being administered in Letterkenny and Sligo General Hospitals, however, we had not received a response at the time of going to press.
Tomorrow’s International Day of Protest Against ECT event has been endorsed by MindFreedom International and the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, although it was independently organised by a small group of shock survivors. For further information, log on to www.ectjustice.com
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