CCHR Exposes Two-Thirds of Electroshock Therapy Victims Are Women

Two-Thirds of Electroshock Victims Are Women
Group says actress Whoopi Goldberg recently revealed her mother was given electroshock resulting in the memory loss of her children, highlighting that women have been and continue to be over-targeted for ECT.

LOS ANGELES - BostonChron -- The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an international mental health industry watchdog, is raising awareness during Mental Health Month on a concerning revelation: nearly two-thirds of those subjected to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are women—a practice deemed tantamount to assault and torture when administered against one's will. Jan Eastgate, President of CCHR International, whose own harrowing experience with electroshock therapy in the 1970s, stemmed from an undiagnosed thyroid that manifested in "depression" that she never experienced. This ignited her lifelong crusade for patient rights. Since joining CCHR in 1977, Eastgate has been a tireless voice, traversing the globe to call for the banning of ECT.

Eastgate said the recent revelation by The View co-host and Oscar-winning actress, Whoopi Goldberg, that her mother, Emma Harris, was kept for two years in a psychiatric hospital and was electroshocked, is a tragic reminder that women have been a target for brain-damaging electroshock for decades. Goldberg told People that ECT wiped out her mother's memory to the extent that she didn't remember her own children.[1] Decades later, her mother told her, "Yeah, I had no idea who you were. I just knew I never wanted to go back to that hospital."

In her 46 years of exposing ECT, Eastgate said she has found a common adverse effect was women undergoing the treatment forgetting their children's births due to the long-term memory loss ECT causes. Eastgate tells her story in a compelling CCHR documentary, Therapy of Torture: The Truth About Electroshock, talking about her not initially recognizing her own mother while recovering from ECT.

Dianna Loper-Posthauer, who was interviewed for the documentary, tells of her experience which she described as "raping my soul." "I didn't have anything except what you call the baby blues. My hormones were completely messed up after having a child…. And the next thing I know, they have me in a hospital. And they shocked me." She couldn't remember her son or her marriage. "You just got shocked, whether you wanted to be shocked or not. They just have to keep hitting your head with that hammer. They gave me 28 shock treatments. They took my soul, my mind, my intellect, my emotions…."

More on Boston Chron
In the UK, Dr. John Read, a professor at the University of East London, obtained statistics through a Freedom of Information request that found 67% of patients who received ECT in 2019 were female. He further established that 36% underwent ECT without consent, which the United Nations defines as torture.[2]

Dr. Read adds that ECT has "no place" in evidence-based medicine due to the risks of brain damage.[3]

"Generally, when we talk about ECT, the public assumes it is banned," said Dr. Jessica Taylor, a psychologist and author. "In my view, there is never a good reason to give an animal or human electric shocks to the brain. In another circumstance, it is fatal – you're not meant to get electrocuted."[4]

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Canada published a paper on ECT also saying that it is overwhelmingly given to women, resulting in extensive cognitive and physical impairment. It "functions and is experienced as a form of assault and social control, not unlike wife battery," the paper stated. "Although the medicalization camouflages the assault, overwhelmingly electroshock constitutes an assault on women's memory, brains [and] integral being."[5]

In 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution that vehemently opposed ECT, stating its administration "constitutes 'torture' without consent" and supported a ban on the use of ECT in the treatment of children and young adults.[6] Reverend Fred Shaw, who instigated the resolution, is the president of the Inglewood-South Bay branch of the NAACP and co-founder of CCHR's Task Force Against Racism and Modern-Day Eugenics, is an outspoken critic of any ECT usage, especially on those who are pregnant, stating: "When a woman is pregnant she shouldn't drink coffee; she's not supposed to smoke. There's a whole list of things that are bad for the baby when it's in the prenatal stage. However, pregnant women are getting electroshock, causing miscarriages."

The Task Force has documented a history of psychiatric abuse of African Americans and women. For example, in 1946, U.S. psychiatrist Walter Freeman performed his first ice pick lobotomy on a 29-year-old housewife from Washington DC. Like ECT, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of lobotomies were performed on women.[7] Freeman believed that African American psychiatric patients, especially women, were among the best candidates for lobotomy because of what he called "the greater family solidarity manifested by these people" who could care for them post-operation. At the West Virginia state hospital, Freeman operated on many African American patients in 1952 and was happy when he returned "a week or so after operating upon 20 very dangerous Negroes and found 15 of them sitting under the trees with only one guard in sight," he wrote.[8]

More on Boston Chron
Throughout the 20th century, nearly 70,0000 people (overwhelmingly working-class women of color) were sterilized as part of eugenics, developed by psychologists, in over 30 states. Black women, Latina women, and Native American women were specifically targeted.[9] While having surgery to remove a tumor, Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was given a hysterectomy in 1961 without her knowledge or consent as a part of the state of Mississippi's plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state.[10]

Eastgate said it should be seriously questioned why so many women are targeted for psychiatric treatment that has the potential to permanently damage them, and a ban is urgently needed on such practices.

About CCHR: CCHR was founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry, State University of New York Upstate Medical University. It has helped achieve over 190 laws that protect patients from abuse, including a ban on ECT usage in minors in some states.




[3] citing:;


[5] citing:






Amber Rauscher

Source: Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Filed Under: Government

Show All News | Report Violation


Latest on Boston Chron