Stop Shocking our Mothers and Grandmothers! 2011


Since 2007, feminist and social justice groups worldwide have gathered together during the month of May to raise awareness about the medical risks and sexist facts surrounding electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). We, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), have traditionally held our rally against ECT on Mother’s Day in front of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, at Toronto’s Queen’s Park. This year, by popular request, the event was held on Saturday May 7th 2011—the day before Mother’s Day.

Demonstrators met at the NE corner of College and Spadina at 1:15 and began the march toward Queen’s Park (See map below). A rally of approximately fifty people took place at 2:00 on Queen’s Park grounds.

March route:

ECT is a controversial and often involuntary procedure that is currently subsidized by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. Despite misleading reports asserting that it is now safe, effective, or rarely used, the facts remain unchanged:

  • Comprehensive studies establish that every form of ECT damages brain tissue and impairs memory.  See, for example:  Sackeim et al. (2007).  The cognitive effects of  electroconvulsive therapy in community settings,Neuropsychopharmacology, 32, 244-254.  The full text of this study is viewable at
  • In Ontario and elsewhere, women and the elderly are the primary targets of ECT, representing over 70% of those subjected to it.
  • In light of a raft of studies demonstrating that ECT is ineffective in alleviating depressive symptoms and a cause of significant neurological damage, trauma, and memory loss in patients, the fact that it is most often administered to elderly women and sufferers of postpartum depression is particularly alarming.

We continue to call upon the province to put a stop to ECT, or, minimally, to withdraw public funding for it.

This year’s rally was sponsored by the following organizations: the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), Nellie’s Women’s Shelter, The Opal Project, Greenspiration, the Friendly Spike Theatre Band, Maggie’s Toronto, MindFreedom International, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), Bread and Bricks Social Justice Group, the Women’s Counseling Referral and Education Centre (WCREC), the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE at OISE/UT), We the People, CKLN Radio, the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC), Resistance Against Psychiatry, Students on Seven (at OISE/UT).