Ray Sandford has won his campaign. During the campaign Ray identified his main psychiatrist while he received forced electroshock as Dr. Dean K. Knudson of Minnesota. Ray says Dr. Knudson is the psychiatrist who approved him to receive involuntary outpatient electroshock, also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.
31 October 2009 Update
The Ray Sandford campaign is over, and Ray won. He no longer receives forced electroshock. Those who support Ray’s campaign are asked to end the encouraged actions, and begin celebrating. Thank you to everyone who supported his campaign.
MindFreedom is proud to have supported Ray. Those interested in understanding why Ray received electroshock, and how his campaign won, will want to study the pages found in Ray’s Web of Links, as well as the Gateway to Ray Campaign.
MindFreedom board, staff and members are proud that throughout this campaign, we have consistently called for peaceful, nonviolent action, even though Ray himself was exposed to extreme and traumatic violence at the hands of his own psychiatrist, Dr. Dean K. Knudson. According to reports from Ray, Dr. Knudson supposedly quit as Ray’s psychiatrist because his own insurance company allegedly felt his treatment of Ray was too controversial.
UPDATED March 2015
Name: Dean K. Knudson, MD
City/State: Office is in St. Paul MN.
Connection to Ray’s case: Ray’s main psychiatrist who Ray says oversees and approves the ongoing forced electroshock. Please note the psychiatrist who oversees the actual procedure in Mercy Hospital has, according to Ray, been Bernard M. Coelho, MD. So Dr. Knudson approves and sets the schedule, and Dr. Coelho pushes the button.
Dr. Knudson now works for Natalis Counseling and Psychology Solutions & Lakes Consultation Group. (updated March 2015)
Public position on Ray Sandford’s forced outpatient electroshock: Won’t comment on Ray, but Ray states he personally signs off and approves Ray’s ongoing, involuntary, outpatient electroshock.
Public position in general on outpatient involuntary electroshock over expressed wishes of subject: Has not spoken out as far as we know, but Ray states Dr. Knudson approves his ongoing, involuntary, outpatient electroshock.
IMPORTANT NOTE: MindFreedom and Ray endorse nonviolence principles. Even if an individual or agency opposes Ray’s human rights, MindFreedom and Ray ask that any communication be civil.
Please contact Dr. Knudson with a civil message:
You can write c/o of his offices:
Natalis Counseling and Psychology Solutions
Court International Building
2550 University Avenue
St. Paul MN 55114
Lakes Consultation Group
1155 Ford Rd Suite B
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
More information about Dean Knudson:
Dean K. Knudson, 50, is Ray’s main community psychiatrist who worked for Allina Behavioural Health in Minneapolis, MN. His specialty is geriatric psychiatry with elderly patients and Ray is 55 years old. According to Ray, he personally approves Ray’s forced electroshock, and sets the schedule for them.
Dr. Knudson is another person around Ray that has not publicly said anything against Ray’s or anyone’s forced outpatient electroshock…This despite Knudson having been recognized with an award from NAMI of Minnesota in 2003, who in a newsletter mention him having “deep respect for people he treats and for a wonderful sense of humor” and being a “tireless advocate.”
Knudson practiced out of both Allina Behavioral Health Svc and Nystrom & Associates.describes itself as a “Christian based mental health clinic with specialized counselors and psychiatrists who deal with depression, anxiety, medication management, marriage and family therapy, child/adolescent counseling and psychiatry, and we deal with a wide variety of other issues.”
He has publicly stated that ‘when ECT doesn’t work,’ he would support implanting people with a shock device, a, for example. This is a pacemaker-like implant that sends electric shocks to the vagus nerve in the neck that goes to the brain. The estimated cost of such an implant procedure is $25,000, plus costs of maintenance
Given that Dr. Knudson apparently supports forced electroshock, then what about forced vagus nerve implants?
Dr. Knudson and Drug Company Payments
Dr. Knudson receives huge ‘payments’ from drug companies – for services vaguely described “honoraria” or “expenses for speaking:”
- over $103,000 total in 2007, including 51 payments averaging $1500 from AstrZeneca
- over $90,000 in 2006
- over $79,000 in 2005
- over $130,000 in 2004.
Knudson: Close to AstraZenica
Psychiatrists top the list of those who receive such drug company payments, and Knudson is near the top in Minnesota. Many people believe these payments represent a conflict of interest that influence doctors to diagnose and prescribe certain company drugs more often, for unapproved conditions not on the label.
AstraZeneca, one of Knudson’s highest payers, has over 8700 lawsuits pending against it regarding Seroquel. Seroquel is one of the best selling neuroleptic drugs for AstraZeneca, with worldwide sales of over $3 billion a year. Ray is prescribed a neuroleptic.
Seroquel side effects have been linked to greatly increased risk of diabetes and severe weight gain, which has led to serious medical complications for thousands of people. It is often prescribed “off-label” for non-original uses including dementia, anxiety, and autism. AstraZeneca also received a warning from the FDA in 2006 for “false and misleading” mismarketing of Seroquel related to off-label uses.
The Drug Companies and Knudson’s Alzheimers Test
One reason the drug companies may wish to use Knudson is that he is a primary developer of a cognitive test belonging to Nation’s CareLink, used to try to detect Alzheimers. Drug companies have a huge interest in having their drugs used to treat Alzheimers and dementia in the elderly, paid by Medicare.
Knudson’s test, which costs approximately $95, is called the Minnesota Cognitive Acuity Screen (MCAS). The MCAS is usually done by short 15 minute phone interview by a nurse who asks certain questions. Some believe there should be such universal Alzheimer’s screening for everyone, as early as age fifty. Some of the many arguments against this are that early diagnosis is not very accurate and it will create a huge profit windfall for the drug companies and test developers, benefiting them more than the public. AstraZeneca’s Seroquel only in recent years has carried a warning that it is also particularly dangerous for elderly dementia patients- fatal in many cases.
Before Allina, Knudson worked for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis as chairman and Vice President of the psychiatry department. Since 1996 he has been the medical director at Nation’s CareLink company. He is also medical director for Behavioral Medical Interventions, Minneapolis. And he is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.
Evelyn Pringle on Dr. Dean Knudson
Minnesota has a fairly new law that requires disclosure of the cash that psychiatrists receive from psychiatric drug companies. The widely respected investigative journalist Evelyn Pringle, in an August 30, 2007 article examining this data, noticed that Dr. Dean Knudson’s name sticks out. Here’s an excerpt from her article:
In reviewing the Minnesota disclosure records for 2004, the name Dr Dean Knudson kept popping up. A September 2004 Newsletter from the Ada Canyon Medical Education Consortium listed Dr Knudson as an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
He must be a “really good” psychiatrist, too, because in 2004 alone, Lilly paid him close to $37,000; he earned nearly $2,750 from Pfizer; Seroquel maker AstraZeneca paid him $6,700; Janssen forked over $3750; Wyeth paid him $11,632, and he received $2,082 from Abbott. Lilly’s 2003 forms also show another $8,740 paid to Dr Knudson.
The newsletter showed that Dr Knudson was paid to give educational presentations on dementia. On October 18, 2005, the Associated Press reported a study that showed atypicals used to treat elderly patients with dementia raised their risk of death.
For the study, the researchers pooled the results of 15 studies on the atypicals Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel and Abilify and among more than 5,000 dementia patients, those taking any of the four drugs faced a 54% increased risk of dying within 12 weeks of starting the drugs, compared to patients taking placebos.
Letter from MindFreedom to Dr. Knudson
MindFreedom has sent a certified mail letter to Dr. Knudson to make sure he is aware of the YouTube video of Ray and his mom begging for the forced electroshock to end. The letter did arrive, and Ray said Dr. Knudson reacted negatively to the letter in a meeting with Ray on 7 April 2009.
Bio of Dr. Knudson
The following is a bio from a company that Dr. Knudson works for. Note that University of Minnesota states as of 10 April 2009 he is actually an “adjunct assistant professor” in the medical school.
As anyone can see, Dr. Knudson is considered a leader in his field. Just as Ray’s attorney Jon Duckstad is also considered a leading attorney, the main professionals around Ray may know the technical requirements of their fields, but are still profoundly failing Ray.
Dean Knudson, MD
Dean Knudson, MD, has been the Medical Director of Nation’s CareLink since 1996. Dr. Knudson is in private practice of general psychiatry and inpatient treatment at Allina Behavioral Health in Minneapolis, MN. He is a past Chairman and Vice President of the Department of Psychiatry at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. As an expert in cognitive testing of the elderly, Dr. Knudson devotes a large portion of his practice to Geriatric Psychiatry.
He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Knudson is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Dr. Knudson was selected four times by local nurses and physicians to appear in the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazines “Twin Cities Top Doctors” list. He also was selected by local physicians and nurses to appear in the book “The Best Doctors in America, Midwest Edition”.
Dr. Knudson has been involved in research examining high resolution MRI scans of the brains of schizophrenic patients, and also in research examining metabolic and cardiac risks in psychiatric patients taking new generation antipsychotic agents.
After graduating from George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, Dr. Knudson took his residency in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, where he completed a fellowship in Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Knudson is one of the developers of the Minnesota Cognitive Acuity Screen (MCAS).
Links for above information:
2003 NAMI Award Article/ Newsletter, W 2004,
2007 AstraZeneca payments in MN,
“Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts,” by Gardener Harris, NY Times, 6/27/07,
“Psychotropic Drug Makers Bankroll Prescribing Shrinks,” by Evelyn Pringle, 8/30/07, 9/2/07,
pt 1 ((mentions Knudson):
Dementia Screening Tests: Minnesota Cognitive Acuity Screen, Alzheimer’s Association-NY, 2008,
To Screen, or Not to Screen: Experts Debate Mass Testing For Alzheimer’s Disease, By Alicia Ault, Washington Post, 12/4/07,
Disclaimer: The above is the opinion of the author, based on reports from Ray Sandford and allies, to the best of their knowledge. If there is any dispute of the facts, please let MindFreedom know.