I’m taking a vacation. One week. I feel I need it.
I spent the whole weekend writing personal emails and fielding insults from angry and hurting people who don’t agree with what I wrote, and have had very different experiences from mine.
Disagreement is fine. I want you to disagree with me. That’s what comment boxes are for and what blogging is all about. It’s turns an opinion into a dialogue or as the headline said, “A Charged Debate.”
This was different. The public debate I expected fizzled. It went into my in-box where it dies.
Only one person, Susan, had the courage to comment. She is an award-winning journalist from New jersey, with her own excellent blog and her own horror story about ECT.
Yet she thought my story “was good” and that I “did a good job,” she wrote in her comment.
None of the others would post publicly, and what I really couldn’t understand is how they refused to acknowledge my own personal experience with ECT. In the 1960s and 1970s I had several courses of between six and 12 treatments of bilateral ECT administered at The Clarke Institute of Psychiatry.
Here's the problem I think these people had with me. Those ECT treatments did not damage my brain.
It was all on the record.
I always joke to my husband, that if it had damaged my brain, beforehand, I must have been absolutely brilliant – and I wasn’t. My only side effect was a tiny bit of temporary memory loss. It all returned within a few months.
One person, who will remain nameless, insulted me, attacked my journalism and then in his response to my email to him, admitted that he had never even read my blog.
This man is a leader in the anti-psychiatry movement. I’m speechless.
I asked my good friend Tanya Shute her thoughts on all this.
Tanya is an activist, “survivor” – a label I don’t like but will settle for here because it’s relevant – and executive director of The Krasman Centre for Community Mental Health in Richmond Hill.
Here’s what Tanya said: “ECT is one of those topics that really fires people up. I think that people think the consumer survivor movement is all anti-ECT. The people who I have a lot of respect for in the mental health community have spoken about the positive outcomes for them with ECT, as well as many who have had negative experiences.
“The point for us is that people have informed consent and choice, not whether we agree with the modality. Many people who I have seen have serious criticisms of the mental health system but are positive about their experiences of ECT.
“I think it is one of the most controversial topics in our field – and you became a scapegoat for this guy’s anger about ECT. Don’t forget, just because people are psychiatric survivors doesn’t mean that there aren’t assholes among us. Recovery is about dissent, resilience, rebellion -- keep yours up, and your chin too just in case you get sucker-punched again.”
Thank you, Tanya. I knew I could rely on your support and wisdom.
One more thing… I made a mistake in my July 25 post when I wrote that ECT was invented in Germany in the 1930s. It was invented in Italy in 1938. I spotted it yesterday.
Curiously, in all the criticism I received by email, no one pointed this mistake out to me.
Have a great week and stay well.