Recently the CCHR team visited Napier to attend the 6th National Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) Conference sponsored by drug company Eli Lilly.
In an unprecedented move, Steve managed to get CCHR into the conference due to the amount of work that CCHR had done working with victims of Electroshock.
Steve, Maria and Margaret sat in the front row of the conference, along with about 50 psychiatrists and other medical and psychiatric staff. Outside, the rest of the team approached the attendees in the break periods, handed out DVDs and conducted video interviews on those that were brave enough to take part and share their points of view.
The first speaker was the Ministry of Health (MoH) who explained that he had worked for the past decade with the Director of Mental Health and 8 of those years on two petitions against ECT from Patients Rights Advocacy Waikato (PRAW) and CCHR NZ!
A forensic consultant psychiatrist then spoke about the Lake Alice atrocities, including the psychiatrist in charge of the Child and Adolescent Unit, Selwyn Leeks. Again, this is CCHR's work, being the NGO that uncovered the abuses in the 1970s and assisted the child-victims through to present day! The presenter surmised that if the NZ Government
had investigated, apologised and paid out millions of dollars in compensation, that he believed the abuse did happen and that it is part of their (psychiatry's) history.
After going through a timeline of what happened at Lake Alice and some of the things overseas he told the audience that this is their history that they had to front up to it and even mentioned that psychiatry was an agent of social control. He came to the point in his slide that showed CCHR NZ's submission to the United Nations this year and asked if anyone had heard of them (to which Steve put his hand up announcing that he is from CCHR).
Margaret is an ECT survivor and had received the destructive treatment during her teenage years. Sadly her story is shared by many. CCHR NZ had acknowledged all the work she did a few years ago in bringing about awareness of ECT (including 3,000 petition signatures in 3 weeks). With extreme courage she asked the conference organiser if she could speak at the conference and then delivered a powerful 10 minute speech on why she thought the practice was barbaric and should be banned. This was in front of the key psychiatrists who administer ECT from around the country!
Amusingly too, the next item was a documentary on ECT (TV3 60 Minutes) and who should you see on the large screen but Margaret herself campaigning against ECT. We are very proud of you Margaret, well done!
On completion of the conference, Steve (kindly) offered all attendees an impactful 3 minute video on ECT and CCHR documentaries as a thank you for allowing CCHR NZ to attend the conference. The conference organiser announced this and each attendee (mostly psychiatrists) got copies of CCHR's "Making a Killing", "Marketing of Madness", and "Industry of Death" DVDs.
This has helped put CCHR NZ front and centre for victims of psychiatric abuse with the shock doctors and the MoH.
An amazingly productive effort by a team willing to get in there and help - THANK YOU!