Forced Electroshock Halted for Kathleen Garrett: Hospital spokesperson says due to a “dendrite” alert issued last night, they were “deluged” by public outrage over involuntary electroshock literally overnight — in 16 hours — the hospital that was forcibly electroshocking Kathleen Garrett suddenly announced they are discharging her. The 66-year-old mom is spared the planned “ten to twelve more electroshocks”.
Campaign organizer Juli Lawrence thanks public for support: “I’m moved to tears of awe.”
This is an example of what we can do as people of good conscience when we come to the aid of one person fighting a powerful and sometimes unjust system. Together we can work for mental health services, and treatment guidelines that makes sense, and allow the people to make medical decisions based on their own needs and desires.
My feeling is that if the doctors and staff are not able to convince a patient in their care that a particular treatment or medication is necessary or will be beneficial, then they cannot in good conscience do other than respect the wishes of the patient. It takes time and effort to make a case for any particular treatment, but if you can’t be convincing, then you don’t get to use your wonderful treatment or medication.
We patients have seen it all, we have experienced the side-effects, the deadening of feelings, loss of memory from medication and treatment- proper treatment, and improper treatment. You cannot convince me that any person, other than the patient, should make such life-altering decisions concerning their own body and mind. I have seen good treatment, been the beneficiary of good treatment, and I have seen bad treatment, bad medicine, and bad decisions made on my behalf and against my better judgment. I have also worked within the system as a case manager and counselor. I have had to convince people that they should be in the hospital, that they should trust the advise of their doctor, or that I agree they need a particular medication. I have also advised that although I have myself refused ECT, that I have seen ECT work where medications did not, where the depression lasted too long and was too dangerous.
But I will say again, that unless you, the staff, the doctors and nurses and family can convince the designated patient that any particular treatment or medication should be used, then you do not have the right to force that treatment on any person.
We are not yet forcing cancer patients to take chemotherapy because we know that this would be helpful, or might even save the patient’s life. We are not giving insulin against the will of people with diabetes simply because we know that this treatment works and that they will benefit from it. Financially, it would be less costly to society to treat them with insulin than to have to treat them when the diabetes goes amuck and limbs have to be amputated. No. We explain it, we make our case, and we offer treatment. We hope that the patient can find a way to take our advice and our best suggestions for treatment. If we are not convincing enough, we will have to explain it again, and hope that they can use our expertise and knowledge. Then we have to wait and try again on another day, or have another person try to make the case.
And you say that that is fine when you are dealing with people who have their mind, and that people with mental illness cannot understand the ramifications of their decision. Then you need to work harder, don’t you, to help them to have a few lucid and trusting moments when you will be able to reach them with your arguments. People threatened with ECT or heavy drugs are in a state of fear, terror and mistrust. Remove the threat and work with them. People with mental illness are still people with mental illness. I don’t care if it makes you job harder, or that you just can’t write the order. That is just part of the job. You just might have to talk to mental patients, you might just have to be able to convince them that you are trustworthy, that you believe in this form of treatment.
If you got in this business because you wanted every patient to do exactly what you want them to do, because you know so much, you have the answers, and you know better than the patient- then I have to remind you that you do not have all the answers. You are often wrong, and you are often guessing, and you are still trying to understand and treat what you cannot yet understand and illness for which there is often no good, safe, or proven treatment.
It is a new day. We are people with minds and bodies and you need to be respectful of both. You need to be respectful and give all mental patients the rights that pregnant women now have- the right to control their own bodies, their own treatment, their own lives. Because it is a basic human right, and because it is not, and should not be your decision. It should not be decided by the state, or the hospital, or lawyers, or the medical or psychiatric community. This is still America, the land of the free- where mental patients are still fighting for their lives, and their bodies and their minds. They should not be fighting the system, or the professionals. We should be working together to fight the demons, to find better, more humane, more effective treatment, and ways to help pay for treatment that does work.
If you come up with something that works and does not cause harm, I bet you could convince the vast majority of people with psychiatric diagnoses to trust you enough to try it for themselves. Meantime, your only option as a professional is to try to convince the person you are treating that you are worthy of their trust and confidence. You must explain that the treatment you are prescribing is a calculated risk, that you are trying to find something that will give them some relief, that you are hopeful that the side effects will be minimal, that you cannot guarantee either that the treatment will work, or that they will come through it without serious damage. You are trying your best to help them to recover, and to heal. You must follow the first edict of medicine- Do No Harm. If you believe this is their best option- Convince them. If your intention is good, we can hope for a good outcome.
Forced treatment is not an option for any medical/psychiatric problem- this should not, and can not be an option in good care and treatment. Doctors and therapists and healers and helpers of all kind, listen to your patients- there is wisdom there.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI — After a hospital that has been forcibly electroshocking a 66-year-old mom was “deluged” with public comments, they suddenly reversed themselves. The hospital announced today they are discharging Kathleen Garrett tomorrow.
Earlier this week, DesPeres Hospital had administered two electroshocks to Kathleen Garrett against her will. The hospital had planned ten to twelve more forced electroshocks, but she will apparently be spared. Kathleen’s son, Steve, said his mom is “very happy to hear she is going home.”
The organizer of the campaign to save Kathleen Garrett was Juli Lawrence of the group “ect.org,” one of 88 Sponsoring Groups in Support Coaltion International. Juli said that, “I’m moved to tears of awe. I’m so humbled by the outpouring and the concern of everyone. Mere words cannot express the emotion I feel. The best I can do is say thank you so very much, and Steve — her son — thanks you.”
DesPeres Hospital spokesperson John Shelton told DENDRITE today that the hospital was “deluged” overnight by public comment opposing the electroshock. Shelton attributed the flood to the DENDRITE Internet alert sent out yesterday evening by Support Coalition International. Sixteen hours after the alert was issued, the hospital told Kathleen Garrett’s son they were stopping the forced electroshock and discharging her at 2 pm tomorrow. When asked why, the hospital gave Steve no explanation.
Juli received copies of many of the public comments where were sent to Michele Meyer, the CEO DesPeres Hospital. “I cannot even begin to count how many there were in my e-mailbox. And I’m reading every last one!”
This corporate chain has a history of abuse and neglect. Tenet Health Care owns DesPeres Hospital. Under its former name, National Medical Enterprises, Tenet was convicted in the largest case of fraud, bribery and conspiracy, in U.S history, on June 28, 1994, largely because of psychiatric human rights violations. In addition to the record $379.mil. fine they are enjoined from owning or operating psychiatric or rehab. hospitals. This does not enjoin them from owning general hospitals that provide psych. services, such as DesPeres Hospital.
“Kathleen Garrett and her son had lost in a court of law. But this family won in the court of public opinion,” said Ted Chabasinksi, a survivor of forced electroshock at the age of six, who is now an attorney and is president of the Support Coalition International board of directors. “This is all about strength in numbers.”
To find out more about Support Coalition, and to join, you can request a free sample copy of the award-winning paper newsjournal, Dendron. The summer issue has 64 pages of news about campaigns to win human rights in psychiatry, including resisting electroshock. For a sample, e-mail your postal mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The theme of the next issue is “Youth Resistance to Psychiatric Oppression,” with a deadline for material of September 30. You can now join Support Coalition on the web, via a secure web server at http://www.MindFreedom.org.