Was Carrie Fisher’s Death ECT Related?

2016 sucked royally. The year started off with the FDA trying to down-classify shock machines to class II when they thought no one was looking.

Then the horrible presidential election ending with Donald Trump as the victor.

The human rights abomination known as the Murphy bill was enthusiastically passed.

Beloved celebrities like Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and Prince have passed away,   followed by the Star Wars icon, Carrie Fisher, who died this week after suffering a heart attack.

I have mixed feelings about The world famous actress. I’m not a Star Wars fan so I don’t have a rabid fanaticism for her or other cast members.

As a shock survivor, I empathize with her desperation to control her depression that led to drugs and then ECT.

‘I was getting medication that medication could not handle. It feels like my brain gets moored down in cement and it kind of blows that apart. You can move on from whatever feelings you cannot resolve through therapy and medications.’

-Carrie Fisher, Oprah interview via Daily Mail.com

I can relate to her promotion of it because I felt strongly about it too. That is before I fully understood ECT and its horrific effects outside of my adolescent, psychiatric brainwashing.

I sounded very much like she did when she spoke to Oprah about it. How it was different now. Safer. Helpful.

In interviews, her cognitive impairments are quite obvious though she doesn’t seem to be aware of them which is heartbreaking.

She was duped like the rest of us.

At the same time, I have been exasperated by her ECT promotion. Her massive fame put her in a highly influential position. For those of us trying to educate people the true nature of electroshock and advocate for recognition, protection, and rehabilitation for those injured and cast aside by their doctors and society, she caused problems, though unintentionally. Ultimately, she was a victim and an unwitting pawn in a larger game.

Despite the damage her shock promotion caused, I never wished her any harm.

Her sudden death scares me, which brings me to an issue that has less to do with Carrie and more to do with the risks of ECT.

Risks and death rates are drastically downplayed in consent forms and the media. What most people don’t know is that there has been great efforts to prevent or hinder data collection on ECT-related deaths.

“Furthermore, the APA consent form drastically underestimates mortality associated with ECT by stating a risk of 1 in 10,000, whereas the average of numerous studies indicated a tenfold higher rate of death than suggested by the APA.”

Dr. Daniel Fisher presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Neurological Devices Panel examining the reclassification of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices on January 27, 2011.

Texas was one state who requires deaths to be reported after up to 12 days following ECT. What do results look like with this lengthier follow-up?

More ECT-related deaths. Much more dramatic numbers than the excessively conservative 1- 10,000 in consent forms!

Depending on the age group, it can be as few as  1-200!

This is just a sample of a near two-week time frame. Who knows how many other deaths could be attributed months or years later?

Heart attacks are one of the many ECT-related death causes.

I recently learned that acquaintance’s dad was subjected to ECT and died in his 50’s from a heart attack that was attributed to the shock treatments he had years before.

I want to briefly focus on Carrie Fisher’s Oprah interview where she talked about how ECT is different from old electroshock because they put you under anesthesia.

“They put you to sleep and give you a medication so there is no convulsions …”

~Carrie Fisher, Oprah Inteview

Rather than get into a lengthy explanation about the problems with that common statement of how modified ECT is better, (it’s not, read Dr. Peter Sterling’s entire article linked below) I just want to point out one important fact that I never new before agreeing to ECT and I wonder if Carrie did either: the anesthesia and muscle relaxants offer zero protection for the massive blood pressure increase caused by electrocuting a person into a grand mal seizure. I recently read an in-depth piece about the effect of ECT by Doctor Peter Sterling, via ect.org. I encourage anyone to read the whole article, but below are the quotes relevant to the blood pressure issue:

“Accompanying the convulsion, there is a tremendous rise in blood pressure: changes in arterial pressure from 80mm Hg to 220mm Hg, or almost 200%, have been recorded (Plum, et al, 1968). This overall response resembles the “grand mal” seizure that occurs in epilepsy…

Thus, the later modifications of ECT can relieve the threat of cerebral anoxia, but not the threat of high pressure, bleeding, loss of blood-brain barrier, or edema

… In accomplishing such massive increases in blood flow, the automatic mechanisms that normally regulate cerebral blood flow are overwhelmed. For the duration of the seizure and for sometime following it, blood flow to the brain becomes like that of must other tissues in the body — proportional to the arterial pressure forcing the blood through the vessels. These changes accompanying ECT are not modified by the administration of anesthetic, paralytic drugs or oxygen (Plum, et al., 1968; Posner, et al., 1969).

~Dr. Peter Sterling, Ph.D., Testimony Prepared for the Standing Committee on Mental Health of the Assembly of the State of New York, October 5, 1978.

Looking at the physiologic effects of electroshock I have to wonder, was Carrie Fisher’s heart attack in part from her many medically induced seizures? What role did all the pharmaceuticals she took play in her death?

Even though I stopped ECT and drugs ten years ago, am I destined for the same fate in 30 years?

All I can think right now is #fuck2016 !


BBC. (2016, December 27). Carrie Fisher, Star Wars actress, dies aged 60 – BBC News. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-38446753?ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=facebook

Boodman, S. J. (1996, September 24). SHOCK THERAPY: IT’S BACK – The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/1996/09/24/shock-therapy-its-back/35a22683-a87d-4946-81a6-cabf1bb5a37b/?utm_term=.ed4a03e04218

Fisher, D. (2011, January 27). Dr. Daniel Fisher on ECT | Psych Central. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/dr-daniel-fisher-on-ect/

Frank, L. R.Retrieved from http://endofshock.com/101i%20brochure%20on%20deaths%203-29.pdf

Sterling, P. (1978, October 5). Brain Damage and Memory Loss From ECT. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.ect.org/effects/testimony.html

Thompson, J. (2011, February). Carrie Fisher confesses to Oprah that she has regular electric shock therapy to help her battle depression | Daily Mail Online. Retrieved December 27, 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1357601/Carrie-Fisher-confesses-Oprah-regular-electric-shock-therapy-help-battle-depression.html

Tracy, A. B. (2016, December 12). UPDATE: CARRIE FISHER DEAD AT 60 – ANTIDEPRESSANTS PLUS ???: Carrie Fisher Suffers Massive Heart Attack on Airplane – INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR DRUG AWARENESS. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://www.drugawareness.org/antidepressants-plus-carrie-fisher-suffers-massive-heart-attack-on-airplane/

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    Truth at December 29, 2016 Reply

    It is very likely Carrie Fisher’s death is related to her ingestion of years worth of “bipolar” drug “cocktails” and her rounds of ECT. Both damage the mind and the body.
    It was more than unfortunate that Fisher chose to promote shock as a helpful “intervention”. Her fame lent credibility to this barbaric, brain damaging procedure and probably influenced many desperate and vulnerable individuals to undergo this lunatic procedure.

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      Jane at December 30, 2016 Reply

      Ultimately, I blame the industry. It’s truly sick the way they use the celbrities they injure as promotional puppets to encorage more hurting people to have their brains damaged, which of course, they make money off of.

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    deeeo42d at December 29, 2016 Reply

    I posted this on the website that had an article (?Eulogy of Carrie Fisher or was it a tout for the psychiatry that killed her) called “Advocacy from the Edge” by a Dr Sally Satel, psychiatrist. It might have been called “Advocacy from the Grave”.
    Dr Satel states:
    “Fisher spoke publicly and truthfully about her condition and in doing so, offered many lessons from which we can all learn. First, she promoted the best treatments that psychiatry has to offer.”
    The best psychiatry offers is drugs, shock, and brain surgery PERIOD. Unfortunately Fisher didn’t embrace the psychotherapy that may have saved her a lifetime of drugs and ECT brain damage, and an early death.

    “I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital…I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that.”
    No one should ever say that anyone should be ashamed of having a `mental illness’ or of being emotionally overwhelmed, But that she was led to believe that she had a non existent `chemical imbalance’ borders on malpractice on the part of her doctors, and she propagated this probably without understanding that it was a lie. This claim was and is purely a marketing slogan perpetrated by the drug companies to sell product. It has NO substance, NO scientific validity and was publicly discredited years ago and the fact that Dr Satel is also publicly supporting today is scientifically irresponsible.
    “..when her condition was at its most intense, Fisher turned to electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT…
    ECT is still overshadowed by its One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest reputation as a damaging procedure.”
    I am getting very, very tired off seeing this lame excuse for ECT’s bad reputation being trotted out as a PR statement in every proECT propaganda piece. NO! ECT has a bad reputation because in order to believe that 450 volts pulsing through someone’s head for 8 seconds does NOT cause damage, is suspending disbelief to a delusional degree and the public are NOT that stupid!
    Unfortunately Carrie Fisher (and Kitty Dukakis) have been constantly used as spokespersons by the $5 billion a year ECT industry for many years. There are NO other celebrity spokespersons because nobody else will say anything other than that it causes serious injury. Both Dukakis and Fisher admit serious memory damage from it, and when I recently saw Carrie Fisher as a guest on a well known panel show in the UK I was appalled. It would have been obvious to anyone who has ever worked with neurologically damaged people that Ms Fisher had serious problems. That she continued to be `open’ about ECT indicates several possibilities; a) she had anosognosia (brain damage that prevents the person being aware that they are damaged); b) that she was apathetic and compliant, (a result of brain damage) saying whatever was asked of her; c) that she made these comments when acutely injured by ECT and possibly suffering from post-ictal and concussion euphoria, both acute symptoms of brain injury; d) that she, and/or her entourage were paid to eulogise ECT.
    I’m afraid that for many years, I saw Carrie Fisher as a dupe in the ECT PR machine.
    Dr Satel’s claim that ECT is an effective, let alone the most effective treatment for anything is not supported by any science whatsoever. The claim that it is a substitute for equally useless drugs has no science behind it all.
    There has never been any evidence that show ECT is anything more than a brain injuring placebo that has a short lived positive effect in less than 50% of people, most of whom would have responded equally well to `sham’ ECT (Placebo) and extra caring and attention, with NO injury.
    “To be sure, a chaotic childhood is not a risk factor for bipolar illness. (There is a genetic factor, of course, and other biological vulnerabilities….)”
    Dear me Dr Satel, what planet do you live on? YES, a chaotic childhood IS a risk factor for all kinds of `mental illness’ including bipolar AND the PSYCHOSIS you mention Carrie Fisher suffered from!
    I agree that “Bipolar illness is devastating. The symptoms can be terrifying: paranoid hallucinations, delusions (she had those), a black abyss of demobilizing depression.”
    But to say that the best one can hope for is `treatment, which can be quite effective at managing symptoms’ is a denial of the possibility of hope for recovery that is, very often, with the right help, achievable.
    Sadly, for Carrie Fisher, in the hands of psychiatry, it wasn’t.

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    Jane at December 30, 2016 Reply

    You’re are on the money for each point! May I repost your response to this horrible Slate piece?

    I’m also so fed up with the One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest reference. It’s one part lazy journalism, 10 parts propaganada. *eye roll* That movie has served the shock industry well. I’ve also seen it suggested that Carrie, like many of us, had a bad reaction to pharmaceuticals which led to a ‘chemical imbalance disease’ label that led her down this horrible road.

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