Posts Tagged ‘Scientology’

Shock treatment

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

I hadn’t really realised what I was letting myself in for when I went to photograph a protest by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights against the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (they call it ‘Electroshock treatment’.)

For once I hadn’t done my research, but had just seen the Facebook event page and thought that it might be interesting and the weather was good and I wanted to get out and away from the computer. Had I followed normal practice and done a few seconds of research on the CCHR I might have found something else to do on that Monday afternoon.

Although I’ve never had electrical shock treatment myself, it is something I’ve had some personal involvement with as family members have suffered from it – though now in the distant past, and they are long dead. But I’m convinced they were permanently harmed by it.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was carried out rather more crudely (and certainly more cruelly) than now, with larger currents and often if not usually without anaesthetic. I find it hard to understand why such random and often harmful practice was ever allowed to be used on patients with little or no understanding or real research and am convinced that though they survived the treatment it was a factor which led to early deaths of some of my family members.

Here’s something the BMJ wrote in an introduction to a debate in their pages earlier this year (the full article is only available to subscribers)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) involves sending an electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure. The treatment is given under general anaesthetic with muscle relaxants, so the body does not convulse during the seizure.
No-one is entirely sure how it works, but it is thought to change the way brain cells interact in parts of the brain involved in depression. ECT use in the UK continues to fall, but remains controversial.

What a few seconds of research after the event revealed is that the CCHR is a part of the Church of Scientology, an cult that engages in its own form of brainwashing and which I want nothing to do with. An article in The Atlantic describes the CCHR as “a subsidiary (of the Church of Scientology ) whose sole aim is to discredit and dismantle the field of psychiatry” and its author looks at the “classic propaganda techniques” it uses.

[You can read more about Scientology (if you need to) on Wikipedia and in the 1991 Time Magazine exposé, The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power. ]

I had realised there was something rather odd about the event as I sat waiting for the protesters to gather and the protest to begin at Potter’s Fields next to Tower Bridge. And my doubts were reinforced as I listened to Brian Daniels, Executive Director of CCHR, giving out precise instructions for the protest. There was just something entirely corporate about the whole event, even in the firm handshake and confident gaze of Daniels as he welcomed me to the event. It just wasn’t like a normal protest.

Despite my doubts I decided to go ahead and photograph the event as I would any other protest and you can see more pictures at End Inhuman Electroshock treatment.