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Reporter Shawn Doherty wrote a very biased article about electroshock (electroconvulsive therapy or ECT) for her paper, Capitol Times in Wisconsin. She quotes five (5) credentialed experts in support of shock… and quotes zero (0) expert critics (though she mentions MindFreedom). The newspaper did publish letters by three MindFreedom members in response, including a mini-debate with the journalist. [Updated 8 August 2011.]

‘Cuckoo’s Nest’: Wisconsin Newspaper Carries Electroshock Mini-Debate

Date Published:

Jun 03, 2011 12:00 AM

Author: Shawn Doherty

Source: The Capitol Times, Madison, Wisconsin


Loretta Wilson: Electroshock survivor and MindFreedom activistMindFreedom ZAPBACK News – please forward

MFI Initiative on Electroshock and Human Rights


Electroshock Coverage Debated in Wisconsin Newspaper


The Madison Wisconsin newspaper Capital Times ran letters to the editor critical of their electroshock coverage. The letters included three from MindFreedom members — electroshock survivor Loretta Wilson (above right), MindFreedom director David Oaks, and Wisconsin psychologist Toby Wilson. 

In an unusual move, the newspaper even gave the reporter, Shawn Doherty, a chance to respond.


Loretta Wilson v. Capital Times


letter from electroshock survivor Loretta Wilson, a shock survivor, was published on 3 June 2011, you may read it here:


Watson v. Capital Times


Two days before, Wisconsin psychologist Dr. Toby Watson added his voice in an incisive letter highly critical of electroshock. 

You may read his 1 June 2011 letter here:



Oaks v. Capital Times


Director of MindFreedom David Oaks kicked off the string of letters with his published on 20 May 2011, and the newspaper gave the reporter a chance to respond.

The headline for the exchange, between Oaks and reporter Shawn Doherty: 

“Shock therapy story amounts to infomercial”

You can read the mini-debate here:

or use this link:



The Original Biased Article

The original article on electroshock, published 18 May 2011, does mention MindFreedom’s campaigns against forced electroshock, including for survivor of forced electroshock Elizabeth Ellis.

Unfortunately, when it comes to experts reporter Doherty, simply talks to shock industry proponents, and quotes five of them, including a retired doctor outside of Wisconsin. Doherty quotes zero credentialed experts in opposition to electroshock. 

Here is a link to the original article, with the reassuring headline, “Forget ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ — Safer shock therapy helping treat depression,” published 18 May 2011:





While time has passed, it’s not too late to provide civil but strong feedback to let the newspaper know their bias and unprofessionalism have not been appreciated.




Various ways to give powerful but civil feedback:



Like many such online comment opportunities, you have to register, and answer an e-mail. Find the ‘comments’ link on the original article.



Letters MUST be below 250 words.

They strictly prohibit letters copied from advocacy groups, so use your own words.

There is a form for letters to editor at bottom of this page:



The article is by SHAWN DOHERTY, e-mail address 



You can phone editors here:

Editor: Paul Fanlund, 608-252-6210

Managing editor: Chris Murphy, 608-252-6420




MindFreedom International