National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Stop Shock – Toward the Abolition of
Involuntary Electroconvulsive Therapy:  A Collaborative Workshop to Develop Strategies Against Coerced Shock Treatment

Dennis Feld, J.D. & Arthur Baer, J.D.

Electroshock, hidden but not gone. With the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel’s recommendation to maintain Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) devices as high risk under the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (except when used for catatonia), and the finding of the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture that Judge Rotenberg’s Center’s use of electro-shock and restraints constitutes torture, new avenues of overcoming involuntary electroshock may be on the horizon. This workshop will explore some of the new literature and data on ECT, possible new legal approaches to challenging ECT, and how to use these approaches, in conjunction with already tried and successful legal and advocacy approaches, to overcome ECT’s coerced administration. After an initial presentation on possible new legal strategies and arguments, as well as a review of successful ongoing advocacy strategies, the workshop will invite participants to share successful past strategies they have used, as well as new strategies they believe should be considered in fighting involuntary ECT. It is hoped that the session will help begin to develop a long term strategy for the abolition of involuntary ECT.