Posts tagged ‘Shock’

UN Official Calls Rotenberg’s Treatment ‘Torture’

Matthew Israel, founder (Photo by Larry Sultan)

Finally — someone in a position to do something is calling Judge Rotenberg Center’s discipline-by-electric-shock methods torture. You may remember a couple of previous posts (here and here) about JRC’s electrically shocking children, many with special needs, in addition to aggressive use of restraints, withholding food and just general abuse and bullying labeled care. These are not exceptions or anomalies but the very approach the school is built upon. They are using pain and fear to alter children’s behavior and they are doing so openly — even as a selling point — and sadly, there is a public buying. Parents that would almost certainly never take a job in an office that shocks them to keep up production and compliance are packing their kids up and dropping them off for this. Some  of these children have psychiatric diagnoses and behavioral  issues, others developmental disabilities including autism.

From the Patriot-Ledger:

A top United Nations official has described as torture the shock treatments used by the Judge Rotenberg Center on some of its special needs students. Manfred Nowak, the Austrian lawyer who is the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, in May asked the federal government to investigate the use of electric shocks at the school in Canton.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation into whether the center violates federal disability laws by disciplining and controlling students with electric shock therapy.

“I have no doubts about it,” replied Nowak when asked if the practice is torture in an interview broadcast on ABC-TV’s “Nightline” this week.

Nowak sought the investigation after reviewing a report critical of the center by Mental Disabilities Rights International, a human rights organization.

Thanks in part to ABC’s Nightline who featured JRC story (which I missed), A wider public is aware of what’s happening under our noses — and worse, that it’s been happening for decades. Is that enough? I would hope that we are collectively disturbed enough by what’s going on to insist upon an end to it but the public doesn’t get too bent out of shape  unless it’s their own pristinely “normal” children at the receiving end of the abuse. I would love to be wrong about that.

There is no question. This is torture. This is an abuse of human rights. The fact that it is done in a school setting or under the pretense of “therapy” or to troubled and troubling kids is irrelevant if not even more damning and it shouldn’t take 39 years, the network news and the UN’s special rapporteur on torture to tell us that.

•  •  •

You can contact Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick HERE. Find out what he thinks, in the face of another election, of his governing over the only state in the nation to allow a facility like this to exist and thrive — and get the attention of the UN’s special rapporteur on torture. After all, people are shipping their kids up from other states with enough sense to ban such treatment. More importantly, tell him what you think of the torture of children and the disabled being carried out in Massachusetts. Demand change.


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July 3, 2010 at 11:46 am

MDRI Releases Report on Rotenberg Center

Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) whose simple slogan is “Disability rights are human rights” has issued a report on the abuses at Judge Rotenberg Center calling on the Special Rapporteur, The Obama Administration and the Department of justice in their effort to put a stop to the establishment’s longstanding abuses against children and adults in their alleged “care”.

You may remember my posting about JRC in the past. The abuses that occur there are astounding and I and many others are left wondering how such abuses can carry on without any outside interference from the governing bodies that are supposed to protect all of our citizens — certainly those among us most vulnerable to mistreatment. In its report MDRI rightfully calls this mistreatment nothing short of torture.

From MDRI’s front page:

Washington, DC – April 29, 2010 – Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) has found children and adults with disabilities tortured and abused at a “special needs” residential facility in Massachusetts and has filed an “urgent appeal” with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to demand the United States government end the torture immediately.
MDRI’s latest report, Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC),documents the use of electric shocks on the legs, arms, torsos and soles of feet of people with disabilities – for weeks, months and sometimes years. JRC uses punishments as treatment and US advocates have been trying for decades to close the school and end these practices. The school also uses 4-point restraint boards, tying children to the boards while simultaneously shocking them for hours; mock assaults; food deprivation; shock chairs; isolation and long-term restraint. Residents at JRC are diagnosed with a variety of behavioral, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities such as autism, bi-polar disorder and learning disabilities.
Laurie Ahern, President of MDRI and author of the report, states, “The cruelty perpetrated against children and adults at JRC is psychological and physical abuse, couched in the name of ‘treatment.’ The severe pain and suffering leveled against residents there violates the United Nations Convention against Torture. And to the best of our knowledge, JRC is the only facility of any kind in the US – and perhaps the world –that uses electricity combined with long-term restraint and other punishments to intentionally cause pain to children with behavioral challenges and calls it treatment.”
MDRI calls on the Special Rapporteur, along with the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice, to end the abuses against people with disabilities at JRC. MDRI is an international human rights and advocacy organization dedicated to the rights protection and full participation in society of people with disabilities worldwide. Help us put an end to the torture of children with disabilities in JRC.

I sincerely hope this report and urgent appeal are not falling on deaf ears. MDRI presents a clear opportunity for the system to take a stand on institutional abuse and torture under the pretense of care. We need to stop drawing lines across which we’re willing to allow these things to happen. No perceived mental illness or disability can be allowed to take away our basic human rights. This is their chance to show us that human rights are universal. If they can’t do that, what are they good for?

May 3, 2010 at 10:30 am 1 comment

Violence Prevention Medication?

This morning, I stumbled upon an opinion piece for the Buffalo News pushing for Kendra’s Law to be made permanent. Kendra’s Law is an attempt to prevent violent crime by essentially treating people diagnosed as mentally ill like some sort of pre-criminals. On paper it’s also supposed to be for the safety of the “patient” too but when it’s time to push for support, it’s almost always about protecting “us” from “them.” (As I’ve said before, fear sells when facts fail.) Advocates of Kendra’s Law and similar attempts to criminalize extreme states of mind use phrases like assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) instead of the more truthful involuntary or forced outpatient treatment.  These are the types of laws that allow for forced drugging, electroshock and hospital confinement — all based on the unfounded idea of biological mental illness but the idea is just the packaging. It’s essentially a way to keep people under control out of fear of what they might do. This thinking has no basis in fact regarding mental illness and certainly no place in the arena of human rights or a constitutional America. The article is a fine example of fearmongering but that’s the current state of media. Somehow factmongering never caught on.

As with most battles for thought and opinion, this one is very much centered on carefully crafted words and phrases — not unlike much of the current mental health industry. As with force being rephrased as assistance, drugs are renamed and recategorized, some officially and some in the minds and words of the public. (Neuroleptics have come to be called antipsychotics which are now being called antidepressants.) Sometimes words with no previous connection are paired and when spoken with some authority or when used to speak to people’s fear these words become inseparable, creating a false choice scenario. The latest I’ve seen, in the aforementioned article, is “violence prevention medication.” Of course, there is no such thing but it’s another step in grooming the vernacular.

Kendra’s Law—designed to keep people who really need it on their violence-prevention medication—was passed about 10 years ago. It’s up for renewal, again. Just make it permanent…

The law allows judges to order certain mentally ill people to remain on violence-prevention medication as a condition of release and, if that doesn’t work, to order involuntary committal to mental hospitals if shown to be a danger to themselves or others.

The author creates a connection between violence prevention and drugs. Simply by accepting the phrasing, you’d be accept the idea as truth. And if that’s the truth, you are either in favor of forced drugging or you don’t care if innocent children are slaughtered at the hands of madmen. Facts be damned, that’s your choice. Somehow, when I picture people being tackled to the ground, restrained by undue force, faces pressed against a cold hospital floor and forcibly injected with drugs — powerful mind and body altering drugs — it’s hard to see it as “violence prevention.” We are transferring violence at best and at worst and in truth, causing it.

March 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Two New Paintings

With my art show drawing very near (tomorrow night), I’ve been working especially hard at getting the ideas onto paper. I thought I’d post up two of the newest pieces — one I don’t have a name for and the other entitled, First, Do No Harm.

February 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm

The Deadline for Comments to the FDA on ECT is Tomorrow.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking an active role in this instance. The FDA has been in a position to regulate ECT (shock treatment) for decades by way of clinical trials determining its safety and efficacy and has chosen not to. Proponents proclaim its safety and efficacy but oppose its testing. Why? If ECT is as safe and effective as those proponents claim, the device would fly through the testing without a hitch. If not, however, the FDA is our only safeguard from a procedure that many of its recipients have found ineffective at best and debilitating at worst.

Proponents of ECT claim it is fear mongering based on old and outdated methods that opponents use to bolster their argument but little has changed in ECT over the years, other than adding drugs into the mix. The same damaging and unpredictable shock is administered to the brain, intentionally causing a seizure. Ask anyone who has seizures and chances are they will not praise them for their safety and depression reducing qualities. Muscle relaxants are used to minimize muscle contractions and anesthesia is offered, making the procedure more appealing and easier to market but certainly not safer given the increased potential for toxic or allergic effects and harmful drug interactions.

Proponents of ECT claim it is an often life saving last resort that has proven its safety and efficacy through publice use. I’ll simply say two things to that. First,that the same was said about lobotomy and second, that using the public over time to determine the benefits of a procedure is using the public as guinea pigs in a poorly regulated experiment.

When ECT proponents weigh in on the topic, they often frame it in terms of taking ECT out of their arsenal. You know something is wrong when testing something to assure it is safe and useful to the public is tantamount to banning it. The move the FDA is considering is not to ban it but to test it. If those two things are one and the same in the eyes of the shock industry, then it’s no wonder they would rather have us take their word on it.

Please speak up. A brief comment, even a single sentence is all it takes. I’ve commented and it is incredibly easy. If you can post on your friends facebook wall or comment on their myspace photo, you can comment to the FDA.

Simply go to regulations.gov. Copy and paste this docket number into the search bar on the right: 2009-N-0392. A list of comments will come up. You can view the comments of others and add your own.

More info: Jon Breeding PhD on Electroshock

January 7, 2010 at 11:40 am 2 comments

All I want for Christmas…

…is for you to comment to the FDA and ask that they do their job and test shock treatment (ECT) devices. It doesn’t matter how you feel about human rights, mental illness, recovery, psychiatry — any of it. All that matters is that the FDA has an obligation to test a medical device, especially one that is used involuntarily on our citizens, for safety and efficacy. It really is that simple. ECT is no gentle process. They are inducing grand mal siezures with electricity. Does that sound safe and effective to you? Please comment in the 16 days we have left.

From the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights:

The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of regulating medical devices just as it does drugs, including the machines used to give Electroshock. But it’s not doing its job.  It has allowed these machines to be used on millions of patients over the past generation without requiring any evidence whatsoever that shock treatment is safe or effective! This is so even though shock machines are Class III -high risk — devices, which by law are supposed to be investigated by clinical trials as thoroughly as new drugs and devices just coming onto the market. But because of intense lobbying by the American Psychiatric Association — which claims the devices are safe but opposes an investigation — the FDA has disregarded its own law.

Click here for more.

You can make comments in writing to Food and Drug Administration, Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

You can also submit comments by going to www.regulations.gov and either type in electroconvulsive therapy as a keyword, or the number of the federal register notice: 2009-N-0392

The Federal Register Notice can be found on PsychRights’ website athttp://psychrights.org/Actions/FDA/090910FedRegisterFDAElectroshockReclassDkt.pdf

If you are not in a position to write something up, then please send in the below coupon:

————————————————————————-
To: Food and Drug Administration, Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852

Re: Electroconvulsive Therapy Device (882.5940), Docket #FDA-2009-N0392

The undersigned opposes the reclassification of the ECT device to Class II by the FDA in the absence of adequate scientific evidence of its safety, and asks the agency to call for PreMarket Approval Applications for the device.

Name:    _____________________________

Address: _____________________________

_____________________________

Signature:____ _________________________

Also, The Opal Project has made it incredibly easy by allowing you to comment directly on their page which will then forward your comment to the FDA. It takes moments. It’s as easy as typing your name, address, email and opinion.

Click here to comment via The Opal Project.

December 23, 2009 at 8:38 am

The Kaufman House – Part II

Here are two short videos regarding the Kaufman house, the failures of SRS and an interview with survivor Nancy Jensen. In addition to standing around with our jaws dropped at the  severity of it all — we really need to start asking ourselves how these things can happen and why some people are not being heard, why our agencies aren’t doing what they signed on for and what we can do about it. It’s not enough to be outraged if it doesn’t lead to change.

December 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

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