Mary Maddock is helping to lead an international campaign to challenge the many human rights violations inherently linked to the practice of electroshock, also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. Mary is a shock survivor, author and board member of MindFreedom International.

Participants in the Alternatives 2012 conference protest across the street, reaching rush hour traffic and supporting four shock survivors, in Portland, Oregon, 13 October 2012.

Within three days after she gave birth to her first child in 1976, Mary Maddock entered the psychiatric system in Ireland and received electroshock for the first time. It was almost 25 years before she quit the mental health system and got off all psychiatric medications, in 2000. From her home in Cork, she went on to co-found MindFreedom Ireland in 2003, and published the book, Soul Survivor – A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry with her husband Jim Maddock in 2006. Mary is now a leading mental health activist in her home country of Ireland and globally. 

Imagine a World Free of Electroshock: Actions We Can All Take Together


by Mary Maddock, chair


MFI Initiative on Electroshock and Human Rights

I would like to encourage all MindFreedom members to do everything they can to challenge the increased use of electroshock globally. The propaganda that states that new modified shock under anaesthetic is less harmful than in the past has to be challenged. In fact, the newer shock is more harmful as more electric current is needed to induce a seizure. 

And it’s common sense that a seizure causes brain damage. Doctors should not damage us in order to ‘help’ us. Doctors should not induce seizures. They should be trying to prevent them! 

When people are in distress they need human kindness and compassion. They do not need brain-damaging electroshock.

While all electroshock is harmful, it is especially outrageous that some doctors continue to use force to administer electroshock over the wishes of the subject. MFI has exposed the use of forced electroshock all over the world, including in the USA. The medical model has become the dominant model in psychiatry and nowhere is it more obvious to the general public as in the issue of forced electroshock. Nobody should be forced to have harm done to them — this is a point everyone can agree on! So if we rally attention to this critical human rights issue, we can draw the general public’s attention to other issues in mental health rights, too.

It is our human right to have the support we want. It should be our right to empower ourselves. Those who have survived coercive psychiatry should do all we humanely can to help our sisters and brothers become free. 

When I became free from the psychiatric system I was still very affected from the years of psychiatric drug use. However, being off drugs was still much better and as the years went on I improved daily. I wanted the world to know how the psychiatric system could damage people like me and that it was possible to get your life back and thrive. Now that I have truly found the real me, I continue to take care of myself through mindfulness meditation, water aerobics, music, and other non-drug alternatives. 

I would like to encourage and support anybody who shares MindFreedom’s objectives to act. It is my wish that my two granddaughters would live in a world free from electroshock, and that all people will be empowered to make their own choices in mental health care!

Actions to Stop Electroshock Human Rights Violations

One action we can all take is about the globalization of electroshock. Let’s all contact the World Health Organization (WHO), which says it has a new ‘toolkit’ on human rights and mental health. WHO officially opposes all involuntary electroshock, so you can ask what it is doing to make that a reality. 

You can use WHO’s web form to comment here: Or you can send a postcard or letter here: WHO; Avenue Appia 20; 1211 Geneva 27; Switzerland.

Members can get more involved in the MFI Initiative on Electroshock and Human Rights by joining our committee’s ZAPBACK email list and sharing information. You can also write letters to the media on the subject, activate your network on the web such as with Facebook, lobby your local politicians, and take part in public protests. You can email our initiative at

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