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The Drug War and Electroshock Therapy

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




April 21, 2019

What follows is a letter to the editors of medicalexpress.com, regarding the matter-of-fact allusion to ECT in the third paragraph of a story entitled No laughing matter - nitrous oxide helps to unravel rapid antidepressant mechanisms, published March 27, 2019:

I'm always startled by the non-critical allusion to ECT in stories that discuss controversial psychoactive drugs like Ketamine, as if administering so-called "shock therapy" for depression was no more problematic, morally speaking, than prescribing aspirin for a headache. I beg to differ for the following reason.

I think it's bizarre that doctors can bring themselves to knowingly injure the brain through ECT while failing to have explored the value of drugs like psilocybin, LSD, and the coca leaf, all of which have the potential of relieving long-standing depression without inflicting lasting damage to the brain. I would have no problem with ECT as a last resort, but the fact is that it is not being used as a last resort for the severely depressed; instead, it is being administered by doctors who have never sufficiently advocated for the above-mentioned alternatives that would fulfill the Hippocratic oath of "first do no harm." Doctors may not be able to single—handedly change drug laws, of course, but they still have a moral obligation to speak up when drug-law restrictions oblige them to use a dangerous treatment for which safer alternatives are available.

Yes, patients may seem "happier" after ECT, but it is a sad success indeed, coming as it does thanks to a loss of brain function.

If, in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, we still are forced to use a harmful treatment such as ECT thanks to drug law, then the medical community owes it to society to publicize that fact loudly and clearly each time it throws the switch to shock a patient, saying: "American drug law is forcing us to take this potentially harmful step; American drug law is forcing us to put this patient at this unnecessary risk of having his or her brain damaged by ECT."

Instead, ^{the medical community remains largely silent, claiming that ECT is defensible on its own terms, when in reality it's a dangerous expedient that is only rendered necessary thanks to the fact that drug law in the U.S. has senselessly outlawed all the promising psychoactive alternatives.}{

AFTERTHOUGHTS about America's Pathological and Childish War on Mother Nature's Plant Medicines: Nothing demonstrates Americans' pathological fear of Mother Nature's plants more than their willingness to inflict brain injury on patients rather than resort to the therapeutic use of such godsend natural medicines. There are even Drug Warrior regions where they'd prefer that patients DIE rather than use natural medicines -- places where a doctor can legally kill you (via euthanasia) and yet that same doctor would be arrested if he or she tried to make you want to live by giving you natural plant medicines, such as psychedelics. America's attitude is beyond pathological to the point of being childish, when you consider the oppressive security regimes that the DEA imposes in those rare cases where it allows a psychoactive substance to be studied. On those blue-moon occasions, the superstitiously fretful DEA requires such burdensome security protocols (including bank vaults and security guards) that you'd think the substances being studied were highly enriched uranium, not a plant or fungi grown by Mother Nature herself.

Author's Follow-up: November 1, 2022



Turns out ketamine is being promoted more for economic reasons than for safety ones. But that's the Drug War for you: it's never about safety. Folks like Kevin Sabet keep dreaming of a perfectly scientific approach to drugs (which has its own drawbacks: see
The Problem with Following the Science), but that's never going to happen in a capitalist country where Big Pharma advertises meds like candy in prime-time. Instead, what REALLY happens is folks like Kevin take a jaundiced super-close and unforgiving look at Mother Nature's bounty while giving Big Pharma a great big mulligan for its enormous shortcomings, like the fact that it has rendered 1 in 4 Americans chemically dependent for life.

But if you ever want to know how fanatical the Drug War ideology truly is, philosophically speaking, just remember that, even as we speak, doctors can shock your brain if you're super depressed but they can't give you any of thousands of psychoactive medicines that could make you feel better without damaging your gray matter. That's not just anti-scientific, it's hardcore Christian Science, the religion that first told us that we should say "no" to drugs.


Related tweet: November 1, 2022



Low drug use is not a good goal in and of itself. If a teen has chronic depression, I would pray that we could give him or her a psychoactive godsend from mother nature rather than shock therapy!

Author's Follow-up: November 10, 2022



Depression in America could be cured overnight and the war in Mexico ended, were we to re-legalize mother nature, and especially the coca leaf. But Drug Warriors are such Christian Science zealots that they would prefer "treating" the depressed with electroshock therapy and lobotomies rather than allowing them to chew coca leaves. They show the same heartlessness in their foreign policy, where they prefer a civil war that kills tens of thousands to the re-legalization of such naturally occurring godsends.




Next essay: Mad, and Proud of It
Previous essay: Put the DEA on Trial

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Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans



You have been reading an article entitled, The Drug War and Electroshock Therapy published on April 21, 2019 on AbolishTheDEA.com. For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)