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The Village Voice published this article about “The stunning comeback of electroshock and other harrowing treatments for the mentally ill.” The Voice also published a letter by director of MindFreedom International David W. Oaks in response to the article.

Shock and Awe

Date Published:

Sep 18, 2007 01:00 AM

Author: Maria Luisa Tucker

Source: Village Voice

For the original article:,tucker,77846,2.html

Village Voice published the below letter in response on 26 September 2007:

Thanks to Maria Luisa Tucker for exposing the bizarre and extremepsychiatric experimentation that desperate people are being trickedinto trying. However, I hope it’s clear to readers that countlesspeople have had negative experiences with this type of experimentation.Also, causing brain trauma has been a theme in many psychiatricprocedures for a long time, so in a way this is nothing new. It is wellknown in neurology that fresh brain injury can cause personalitychanges—such as denial problems, amnesia, and even giddiness—that canbe misinterpreted as an improvement of mental and emotional well-being.This is my 31st year working for human rights in mental health, andpsychiatry is constantly coming up with supposedly new techniques thatkeep doing the same thing: traumatizing the brain. Just as shockingyour garden with chemicals and genetically modified seeds may appear tohave short-term benefits, the real question is: What is sustainable?That is, what leads to true long-term recovery of the whole mind, body,and spirit? Too often, a full range of holistic alternatives to drugs,shock, and surgery are not even offered in our overly mechanizedWestern medicine. Consider that two World Health Organization studiesshowed that people with severe mental-health problems were far morelikely to recover in the poorest countries with the least access tomodern Western medicine. There is something missing from our society,culture, lives, and spirit that the latest versions of psychosurgerycan never replace.

David W. Oaks,
Director of MindFreedom International
Eugene, Oregon