Human Rights Group Demands the American Psychiatric Association Ban ECT and End All Harmful and Coercive Practices

Citizens Commission on Human Rights confronts the American Psychiatric Association at its annual meeting in New York demanding that the group condemn coercive psychiatric practices in the field of mental health

Midtown Manhattan reverberated with angry voices chanting “Stop the Torture—Ban ECT” as a phalanx of protesters from Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) made their way from Times Square to the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) at Jacob Javits Convention Center. Their demands: The American Psychiatric Association must end coercive practices.

CCHR called on the American Psychiatric Association to issue a formal position statement condemning the use of coercive psychiatric practices. The group demanded the APA take immediate action to implement the joint Guidance on Mental Health, Human Rights, and Legislation issued in October 2023 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

CCHR confronted psychiatrists at the APA Annual Meeting, standing across from Javitz Center and demanding they end coercive practices in the field of mental health.
Standing across from Jacob Javits Convention Center, CCHR confronted psychiatrists at the APA Annual Meeting demanding they end coercive practices in the field of mental health.

The guidance states: “Coercive practices in mental health care violate the right to be protected from torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.” The WHO pointed out that “ECT without consent violates the right to physical and mental integrity and may constitute torture and ill-treatment.” It also clarifies that informed consent requires that those “offered ECT should also be made aware of all its risks and potential short- and long-term harmful effects, such as memory loss and brain damage.” And it states ECT on children “should be prohibited through legislation.”

It further takes aim against involuntary commitment. And it points out that “people
who are most marginalized — for example, those from a low socioeconomic or educational background, or
those who belong to a minority —  are often denied the few protections mental health legislation may provide

Rather than take the lead in confronting these issues, and despite repeated demands from CCHR that they do so, the APA has failed to take action.

“While other associations have taken steps to denounce coercion, the APA’s silence persists,” said CCHR International President Jan Eastgate. “Urgent action is needed to uphold fundamental human rights in the mental health system and to prohibit practices tantamount to torture.”

Learn more about psychiatry’s crimes and violations of human rights at the world-renowned Citizens Commission on Human Rights Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Expo.

The visually spectacular exhibit opened Sunday, May 5, at 37 Union Square West, one block west of Park Avenue at 17th Street, and will continue through May 10. It features displays with graphic archival and current footage, interviews with medical experts, and moving accounts from victims of psychiatric abuse.

CCHR is a mental health watchdog founded in 1969 by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology, inspired by visionary and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard who believed that human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream.

For more information, visit the website of CCHR or watch CCHR documentaries on the Scientology Network.

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