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Thread: Founder of electric shock autism treatment school forced to quit

  1. Default Founder of electric shock autism treatment school forced to quit

    Founder of electric shock autism treatment school forced to quit

    Institute uses punishment machine to discipline severely autistic and emotionally disturbed children by giving them electric shocks



    • Ed Pilkington in New York
    • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 25 May 2011

      • The founder of a controversial school that treats severely autistic and emotionally disturbed children by shocking them into submission with the use of electrodes has been forced to quit the institution and serve five years' probation.
        Matthew Israel, a Harvard-trained psychologist, has created a treatment that is unique to the US and possibly the world. The Judge Rotenberg Center, just outside Boston, disciplines its students using a punishment machine that Israel invented called the GED, which gives a two-second electric shock to the skin of up to 90 milliamps.
        At the centre, which was profiled by the Guardian earlier this year, students wear backpacks around the clock with the GED electric generators inside them, and are zapped using remote control devices controlled by their carers. In some cases, they are shocked as often as 30 times a day as a means of dissuading them from behaviour deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
        The criminal charges brought against Israel relate to an incident in August 2007 at one of the school's residential homes where students sleep at night. A call came in from someone posing as an authorised supervisor, who informed the carers on duty that two teenagers had misbehaved and should be given shock treatment.
        At 2am, the boys were strapped on boards and given multiple shocks. One of the boys, aged 18, was shocked 77 times over a three-hour period and the other boy, aged 16, was shocked 29 times. It was later discovered that the initial call had been a hoax.
        The Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, indicted Israel over allegations that he ordered his staff to destroy video evidence that revealed exactly what happened that night. Prosecutors had previously ordered that the video recordings from the home were preserved.
        "Dr Israel then attempted to destroy evidence of the events and mislead investigators, and that conduct led to his indictments today. Today's action removes Dr Israel from the school and should ensure better protection for students in the future," Coakley said.
        The conviction is a substantial blow to Israel, who has weathered a storm of protest about his controversial methods for 40 years. He announced his retirement from the school on 2 May, without referring to the pending criminal case. He said he was moving to California, where his wife Judy lives.
        "I am now almost 78 years old, and it is time for me to move over and let others take the reins," he said in a resignation letter.
        But his departure will not materially change the way the school operates, crucially its technique of disciplining children by meting out electric shocks as a form of supposedly therapeutic punishment. Of the school's 225 students, 97 are currently on the electric shock regime.
        The terms of the plea deal struck between Israel and the prosecutors require the school to introduce additional monitoring to prevent a similar lapse of security happening again. But the shocks themselves can continue.
        "The case was only about Israel's conduct, it did not address the way the school is run," a spokesman for the attorney general's office said.
        Laurie Ahern of Disability Rights International, which has been a persistent critic of the school, said that without an end to the shocks, Israel's departure would be irrelevant. "I don't see any radical change at the moment."
        Hillary Cook, who spent three years at the school until 2009, and who was regularly shocked, said that whatever happened to Israel, she wanted to see the regime of shocks abolished. "I'm just worried about the kids who live there, because I know what it's like. They say the shocks are like a bee sting, and believe me they are not. It should be illegal to physically harm children and disabled people in this country."
        The school has been a subject of huge controversy over past decades, with regular attempts to shut it down. Last year its use of electric shocks was attacked as a form of torture by the UN rapporteur on torture.
        In February, the justice department opened an investigation into the school after it received a complaint alleging the centre had violated disability laws.
        Despite the negative publicity directed at him, Israel managed to keep operating for so long partly because he had the vociferous support of parents of severely autistic children at the school.
        The centre rarely uses drugs on its students, in contrast to many other homes for autistic people where heavy doses of psychotropic drugs are prescribed. At the time of Israel's resignation, Louisa Goldberg, whose son has been on the shock regime for the past 11 years, said that "Dr Israel's pioneering efforts have given our child back his life and we are extremely grateful for all that he has done for our family."


  2. #2

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    In the mid-70s, Matthew Israel was developing his, shall we say, controversial techniques at an autism treatment center in Providence, Rhode Island.

    There he came under intense scrutiny of and criticism for his methods.

    In that time frame he attempted to establish a facility in California.

    My personal recollection is of an egomaniacal womanizer with a cult leader-like style -- especially over young female staff members.

    One wonders if Israel's techniques have been adopted elsewhere and if he has demonstrated measurable success with his treatments.

  3. #3

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    If the following account is correct, then Israel was not engaged in therapeutic treatment.

    This is clearly using electroshock as a punitive measure on highly vulnerable (autistic) teenagers.

    The criminal charges brought against Israel relate to an incident in August 2007 at one of the school's residential homes where students sleep at night. A call came in from someone posing as an authorised supervisor, who informed the carers on duty that two teenagers had misbehaved and should be given shock treatment.
    At 2am, the boys were strapped on boards and given multiple shocks. One of the boys, aged 18, was shocked 77 times over a three-hour period and the other boy, aged 16, was shocked 29 times. It was later discovered that the initial call had been a hoax.
    The Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, indicted Israel over allegations that he ordered his staff to destroy video evidence that revealed exactly what happened that night. Prosecutors had previously ordered that the video recordings from the home were preserved.
    And, from Charles' comments, it looks as if the, ahem, noble profession of psychiatry has been tolerating this child abuse for decades.

    Still, what should we expect from a profession that elected numerous MK-ULTRA "doctors" to the highest positions, including of course Ewen Cameron who served as President of the Canadian, American and World Psychiatric Associations, the American Psychopathological Association and the Society of Biological Psychiatry.

    Not forgetting all those shrinks who provided their expertise to the development of the US torture doctrine known as KUBARK, and provided their professional insights to torture chambers such as Abu Ghraib and the various black rendition sites.

    The history of psychiatry is shameful.
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  4. #4

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    Now They Are Frying Baby Brains
    30/05/2011
    [Electroshock works by overstimulating the electrical circuits of the mind until they shut down, or "reboot." It calms agitated minds by silencing part of the mind itself. In extreme examples of electroshock, the mind is literally erased, at least the short-term memory is disrupted, leaving a blank slate that "psychologists" or "hypno-therapists" can then re-write, with whatever new thoughts they choose. The dangers of using this "medical procedure" (which was first used extensively by Nazi scientists in terminal experiments in the death camps) to erase or recondition human minds cannot be overstated. I say this as a family member of a former electroshock patient (SEE: Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State: http://therearenosunglasses.wordpres...-of-the-state/ ). It is obvious that this treatment causes massive permanent brain damage. To use this technique upon a fitful, unruly, or autistic child to calm whatever it is that agitates them, is criminal, in my opinion. How much of their minds and their future memories will be destroyed? No one bothers to mention that the alleged "therapeutic" benefits gained in the sessions are only temporary, needing to be reinforced at approximately two week intervals to maintain the new balance (SEE: Electric shock therapy blanked out parts of my life says Erdington man).]

    http://therearenosunglasses.wordpres...g-baby-brains/

    who mirrors, from the same date:

    Electroconvulsive Therapy in Pediatric Psychiatry
    By Radhika Takru, MA | Editor Shaheen E Lakhan | 3 Comments | Share / Save / Email

    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a controversial practice of dealing with mental disorders and one that has attracted its fair share of detractors. Despite the fact that it was first used as long ago as 1938, it still carries with it a stigma that some find difficult to overlook. One might believe this method is one as harebrained as those employed in the middle ages to rid people of the demons that had possessed their minds. Unlike holes drilled into the skull, the use of ECT as a form of psychiatric treatment has continued into the present day. However, the ethical questions and legislations governing its practice mean that its use in the resolution of the severe symptoms of mental disorders in children is bound to be a delicate topic.
    In recent years, the research on the effective ECT has been extended to its application in pediatrics. A recent study provides hope that the may be beneficial in the treatment of the more severe symptoms of autism as well as mood disorders in children. This study, undertaken by Wachtel, Jaffe and Kellner, examined the effectiveness of pediatric ECT in treating the symptoms exhibited by an autistic prepubescent boy with bipolar affective disorder. The 11-year-old child had been diagnosed with autism when he was two and a half years old. This combined with his unpredictable mood swings had resulted in him behaving aggressively towards his own family and caregivers. However the damage meted out to those who looked after him in no way compared to that he inflicted on himself. Photographs included with the research show the child with his face and hands bloodied from self-abuse.
    A slew of pharmaceuticals prescribed to subdue these symptoms had no discernible effect on his behavior. As an inpatient, he was put on a new combination of drugs that led to some improvement but the violent symptoms returned in full force shortly after he was discharged. It was possibly the severity of the situation that led to his case being accepted as a candidate for pediatric ECT.
    Eight ECT treatments were conducted on a three-times-a-week basis. By the fourth treatment, the child who had been unable to go to school or interact with other children due to “safety concerns” and needed two adult supervisors around him at all times, could now enjoy family outings and community interaction. He was reported to be “happy and calm” and, for what might have been the first time, could sleep soundly through the night. The paper closes with a recent picture of this boy we know only as J., sliding down a tunnel in a public playground smiling broadly for the camera. Following the end of J.’s ECT treatment he still required “maintenance” ECT on a weekly or fortnightly basis to prevent the symptoms from returning. While his therapists work on weaning him off the treatment entirely, his parents and carers continue to report on his ever-increasing cache of achievements, most recently spending five days away at summer camp.
    Lee Wachtel has done some extensive work in the field of autism and the catatonic symptoms that accompany it in its more severe forms. She tends to focus her research on disorders that affect children and adolescents and the effectiveness of ECT on cases that are exceptionally severe. In addition to this study, Wachtel together with Griffin, Dhossche and Reti also put together a paper documenting their work with 14 year old autistic boy who was exhibiting the standard symptoms of catatonia including waxy flexibility, mutism and unresponsiveness. In this case, the symptoms were non-violent but more resistant to treatment. A number of variants of electroconvulsive therapy were utilised before a change in behavior was evident. However, those changes in behavior include independent performance of all activities of daily living, an active return to academics via home-schooling, and participation in sports including running, swimming, basketball and even horse-riding as a component of equine therapy.
    The use of ECT in pediatrics is inadequately researched, not just because of the stigma associated with the practice,, but also because of legislation that governs the administration of this form of therapy on minors due to ethical concerns. In addition, Croarkin et al say that most psychologists who deal with adolescent and child psychiatry are not sufficiently trained in the use of ECT. Even more sparsely researched are the long term effects of ECT on its recipients. Though a handful of longitudinal studies do exist that attempt to cover this, the standard of the research methods employed remains ambiguous. Studies such as those conducted by Wachtel and others like her demonstrate the almost immediate benefits ECT has to offer in the field of pediatric mental health. However the question remains as to whether these benefits will hold in the long run without causing in any additional damage to the brain. Unfortunately, the answer is one we will have to wait for, but till then we can hope.

    References
    Avery D, & Winokur G (1977). The efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy and antidepressants in depression. Biological psychiatry, 12 (4), 507-23 PMID: 889984
    Croarkin, P., McCaffrey, P., McClintock, S., Rodez, C., & Husain, M. (2009). Electroconvulsive Therapy in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Current Psychiatry Reviews, 5 (4), 298-305 DOI: 10.2174/157340009789542141
    Greenberg RM, & Kellner CH (2005). Electroconvulsive therapy: a selected review. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, 13 (4), 268-81 PMID: 15845752
    Payne NA, & Prudic J (2009). Electroconvulsive therapy: Part I. A perspective on the evolution and current practice of ECT. Journal of psychiatric practice, 15 (5), 346-68 PMID: 19820553
    Wachtel LE, Griffin MM, Dhossche DM, & Reti IM (2010). Brief report: Electroconvulsive therapy for malignant catatonia in an autistic adolescent. Autism : the international journal of research and practice, 14 (4), 349-58 PMID: 20591959
    Wachtel LE, Jaffe R, & Kellner CH (2011). Electroconvulsive therapy for psychotropic-refractory bipolar affective disorder and severe self-injury and aggression in an 11-year-old autistic boy. European child & adolescent psychiatry, 20 (3), 147-52 PMID: 21249407

    Radhika Takru, MA
    Ms. Takru has a Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Psychology, a Postgraduate Degree in Media, and is currently working on a Masters degree by research from Monash University on digital media and its effects on individual behavior and socialisation. She moonlights as a music critic.

    http://brainblogger.com/2011/05/30/e...ic-psychiatry/

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