Minnesota Woman Forced to Undergo Outpatient Electroconvulsive Therapy Against Her Will
Elizabeth Ellis does not want to go to the hospital anymore. She does not want to be anesthetized, hooked up to electrodes and shocked anymore. In short, she does not want to continue undergoing Electroconvulsive Therapy. However, her wishes continue to be ignored by both her hospital and the state.
Ellis, 67, of Moorhead, Minnesota, spent three months in Anoka State Hospital as a mental health patient after the death of her sister in late 2010. During this time she was forced to undergo Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), a treatment for severe depression that uses electric shocks to induce brain seizures. She was released on January 5 of this year but ordered to continue treatment upon threat of involuntary re-hospitalization.
Sound familiar? Minnesotan Ray Sanford was forced to undergo over 40 electroshock therapy treatments against his will beginning in 2008. Desperate for reprieve, he reached out to MindFreedom, an Oregon based non-profit which argues that involuntarily administered ECT “violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, and amounts to torture.” In 2009, MindFreedom waged a successful campaign to end Sanford’s court-ordered electroshock therapy.
Today, Ellis, a former schoolteacher and guidance councilor, is standing up to the state and refusing ECT treatment. Her husband and community are at her side and MindFreedom is currently launching a campaign to get her court order overturned. But the future of Electroconvulsive Therapy in the U.S. remains unclear.
According to an MSNBC.com report, Electroconvulsive Therapy has made a “quiet comeback” and the number of patients receiving ECT has tripled since the 1980s. Just recently, on the 27th and 28th of January, the FDA convened a “Neurological Devices Panel” to review the safety of ECt therapy devices. Many of the panelists expressed a desire to see the devices remain classified as high-risk. The FDA will not rule on this matter for a least a year, but if the current high-risk classification holds, the law will require extensive safety and efficacy testing on all ECT devices.
According to the National Mental Health Association, approximately100,000 people, the majority of them women, undergo ECT treatment every year in the United States. How many of those people are receiving electroshocks against their will is unclear.
Learn more about Elizabeth Ellis’s story at www.mindfreedom.org/shield/ellis-ect/support-elizabeth
Learn more about ECT: www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/treatment/electroconvulsive-therapy-ect