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MindFreedom News- The Ray ECT Campaign
By David Oaks
23 December 2008
Dear readers of the MindFreedom News Public Alerts:
Ray Sandford phoned the MindFreedom office this morning, as he does
As you probably know, Ray has received about 35 involuntary
electroshocks. MindFreedom’s Ray Campaign has activated hundreds of
people like you to support Ray. This won Ray national publicity and a
new hearing last week.
Ray gave me the bad news that the judge ruled against him. Again.
That means Ray is scheduled for another of his every-other-Wednesday
involuntary electroshocks tomorrow, 24 December 2008.
Ray says, “I’m really disappointed in that.” Ray thought that maybe
his family’s holiday get togethers would delay this week’s forced shock.
But Ray said that instead of the gathering, “I’ll be having tacos
with my aunt tonight to celebrate Christmas.”
So tomorrow morning Ray will be woken up early in his group home, and
escorted to a forced shock.
Ray told me this morning:
“It’s a painful awful experience. Every time. It takes away memory
viciously. It is scary as hell every time I go.”
Ray says he always objects.
“I say, ‘I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this,’ which
I’ve known since the first time. Everyone figures I’m totally nuts.”
Ray is not giving up.
So we are not giving up.
We ask that you not give up.
Eye-witnesses at Ray’s hearing, held in a dreary hospital basement,
knew he did not have much of a chance.
Ray’s court-appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, refused to call any
expert witness to testify for Ray’s side. (See MFI Blog for more on
the hearing.) Mr. Duckstad has refused to respond to any offers of
help from MindFreedom, including a number of skilled attorneys we’ve
found who offered to assist for free.
Ray is keeping his spirits up.
Ray is so grateful to MindFreedom members and supporters for speaking
out. Ray is proud that even a relative in Alaska heard him oppose his
forced shock on National Public Radio (click on http://
www.mindfreedom.org/ray to hear that, and read more about Ray).
I am deeply impacted by Ray’s ongoing psychiatric torture out in the
All abuse is bad, but severe outpatient abuse is traumatizing to all
of us, like me, who have experienced mental health system human
rights violations. It means none of us are safe, even in our homes.
MindFreedom International – please forward
Human Rights in Mental Health – Ray Alert #8
Christmas Eve 2008
What Would Jesus Do About Forced Electroshock?
An Open Letter to the Lutheran Church [ELCA] from MindFreedom
by David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MFI
As we send you this, we understand Ray Sandford of Minnesota is
receiving another involuntary electroshock this Christmas Eve
morning, 24 December 2008.
As you know, your agency Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota
(LSSMN) is charged with being General Guardian for Ray. This is a
reply to your recent misleading public statement about the
MindFreedom Campaign to End Ray Sandford’s Forced Electroshock
(copied at bottom).
Regularly for months — presently every other week — attendants wake
Ray up early in his group home, Victory House. He is escorted the few
miles to a hospital. Under court order and against his repeated and
clear objections, Ray is put under anesthesia, electricity is run
through brain head, and he is given another electroshock, also known
as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.
Ray has received about 35 so far.
Ray calls our office most days, and it’s always good to hear from
him. He told me yesterday, “It’s a painful, awful experience. Every
time. It takes away memory viciously. It is scary as hell every time
Ray says he always objects. “I say, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t
want to do this,’ which I’ve known since the first time. Everyone
figures I’m totally nuts.”
One day Ray asked his local library about groups working on human
rights in mental health, and Ray contacted MindFreedom International.
Ray asked us to start a public campaign to support his right to say
“no” to electroshock.
I had hoped your church would be an ally in Ray’s campaign. Instead,
I have found you to stand by silently with arms folded, or even worse
your spokespeople appear to at times oppose Ray’s campaign.
In my 32 years of human rights activism, Ray is one of the most
focused individuals I’ve ever encountered in his persistent and
reasonable requests to end his forced electroshock. The fact that his
forced shock is outpatient and ongoing is especially outrageous.
Ray’s heroism has moved me and many others. Countless people have
responded to support the Ray Campaign, and Ray reached millions of
people on National Public Radio.
On 16 December 2008, the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America” [ELCA] issued a reply to a number of people who have
expressed concern about Ray as a result of MindFreedom’s human rights
alerts. (See below.)
It is significant for ELCA to issue a public statement about a
MindFreedom International campaign. With more more than four million
baptized members, ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination and one
of the largest Christian denominations in the USA. We at MindFreedom
are eager for dialogue with ELCA.
Unfortunately, Miriam L. Woolbert of ELCA’s Communication Services
replied to those contacting ELCA that groups like MindFreedom are
“misdirecting you and many other people.”
Ms. Woolbert did not provide any example or quote of such
“misdirecting.” Her main points appear to be that ELCA is not a
“participant” in any involuntary electroshock, and that ELCA cannot
speak about Ray because of confidentiality.
MindFreedom’s alerts never claimed that ELCA is in charge of the
involuntary electroshock of Ray. MindFreedom International encourages
people to contact ELCA to ask you “to stand with Ray.”
Even if ELCA representatives feel you cannot speak specifically about
Ray, we ask ELCA to stand shoulder to shoulder with all their agency
clients, like Ray, who are receiving involuntary electroshock. ELCA
could at least begin by expressing concern or joining in dialogue.
We continue to encourage all people who care to contact ELCA, and
ELCA’s local congregations, with strong but civil messages.
Because of ELCA’s misleading statement about the Ray Campaign this
action is especially urgent, including for those who have already
Most importantly, Ray is asking us all to take this action.
* ACTION * ACTION * ACTION *
People may e-mail ELCA headquarters at email@example.com or use their web
We also encourage all concerned people in the USA to contact local
ELCA congregations, which they can find by entering their postal code
MindFreedom Suggested Message to ELCA and Local Congregations [your
own words from the heart are best]:
I am not being misdirected by MindFreedom International or anyone else.
I am not saying you are in charge of anyone’s forced electroshock.
I am not asking you to break confidentiality of any client.
I am simply asking:
Will you stand now with Ray Sandford, and all those who are oppressed
by extreme psychiatric abuse?
What is ELCA’s position on the forced, outpatient, maintenance
electroshock of clients you and your agencies are charged to guard?
Why isn’t ELCA expressing concern about these human rights
violations, which amount to torture?
How can ELCA use this opportunity to seek dialogue on human right and
alternatives in the mental health system?
[your name & contact]
[Please copy your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; selected e-mails
will be published on the web and/or mailed to Ray.]
For more info the Ray Campaign see:
The MindFreedom Board of Directors includes several individuals who
have personally experienced the unimaginable horror of an involuntary
The board endorses this public statement to ELCA, and asked me to
quote from the famous letter written by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
in the Birmingham Jail on 16 April 1963.
Forty-five years ago, Rev. King was responding to church leaders who
discouraged his own activist campaign:
“…I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the
white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our
strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents,
refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its
leaders; and too many others have been more cautious than courageous
and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-
“So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with
an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.
Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power
structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent
and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.”
[More excerpts below.]
For those who would like more detail about this exchange between
MindFreedom and ELCA about the Ray Campaign:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about Lutheran Church [ELCA] and Forced
Electroshock of Ray Sandford
*** How does Ray Sandford’s feel about Lutheran Social Services of
Ray has approved this alert, and asks everyone to contact the
Lutheran Church [ELCA]. Ray knows that their agency LSSMN is not
directly in charge of his forced shock. Ray said, “In some ways
Lutheran Social Services is compassionate and helpful. They’ve
visited me and are a support system. They manage my finances my
fairly. But Lutheran Social Services does not listen to me. They
don’t see you. They asked me to not do this campaign. They should
support the person who doesn’t want electroshock. Tell them I don’t
*** Does ELCA oversee Ray’s forced electroshock?
To repeat, ELCA is not directly in charge of Ray’s forced
electroshock. We can understand ELCA being sensitive to this
question. Media are starting to pay attention, and National Public
Radio covered Ray’s story.
The legal jargon can get complicated. On 16 December, television
station WCCO-TV in Minnesota mis-reported that Ray’s “guardian ad
litem” Terri Bradley, who is the court-appointed person specifically
and narrowly in charge of overseeing Ray’s forced electroshock, and
who testified in court for Ray’s forced shock, works for LSSMN. WCCO-
TV has since issued a public retraction.
Legally speaking, LSSMN is “general guardian” for Ray, but not
“guardian ad litem” specifically on the electroshock.
*** What has ELCA said about forced electroshock?
Representatives of Luthern Social Services of Minnesota (LSSMN), an
agency that is sponsored by ELCA, have refused to speak out about the
abuse of their clients like Ray by repeated, “maintenance” forced
On the contrary, LSSMN representatives, including their employee
Tonya Wilhelm, have sought to discourage Ray and advocates such as
myself from speaking out publicly about Ray’s abuse. My first contact
with Ms. Wilhelm ended with her laughing loudly, saying this would be
between our lawyers, and hanging up.
Helpful MindFreedom voluteers in Minnesota are now prohibited from
even visiting Ray. Ray is kept from a follow-up visit to the
Minnesota Center for Independent Living. Ray is not being offered
humane alternatives to electroshock. Mail sent to Ray is re-directed
to LSSMN for screening. LSSMN attorney George Borer wrote MFI on 1
December “emphasizing” that they do not consent to MFI disseminating
info that Ray provided for the campaign that they consider “private.”
In a newspaper report on 18 November, Eric Jonstaard, director of
LSSMN, did speak out about Ray to a reporter. Unfortunately, Mr.
Jonstaard took the opportunity to chastise MindFreedom for using
Ray’s full name in the Ray Campaign, as Ray has specifically and
repeatedly authorized MindFreedom and NPR to do.
For more info on the Ray Campaign see:
*** What is ELCA’s link to LSSMN?
Through his bravery, Ray has offered us all an opportunity to create
dialogue. Instead, Mr. Jonstaard seeks to distance ELCA from the
situation by saying that ELCA is “not related to the situation”
except for a “loose” sponsorship of LSSMN.
ELCA’s sponsorship of LSSMN is official, financial, legal, direct,
public and documented.
LSSMN’s web site states that LSSMN is “owned” by six Minnesota synods
of ELCA, and credits ELCA as one of its “primary” funding sources for
their 2009 budget of $90 million.
Owned? A primary funding source?
How is that “loose”? Perhaps a lack of close oversight is part of the
This dialogue should not be about technical quibbling. ELCA has a
deep moral obligation to address oppression of any of their clients,
or any human being for that matter. ELCA’s agencies receive millions
of dollars in scarce taxpayer funding to guard these clients.
In Minnesota alone, Mr. Jonstaard says that LSSMN is responsible for
800 “vulnerable adults.” How many have experienced involuntary
psychiatric drugging and electroshock? LSSMN’s Tonya Wilhelm told
MindFreedom’s David Oaks that involuntary electroshock of LSSMN
clients like Ray in Minnesota is “not uncommon.”
The moral failure of involuntary electroshock over the expressed
wishes of the individual is not only committed by the individual
flipping the switch, but by all those aware of the torture but who
*** What about Ray’s confidentiality?
First and foremost, Ray has repeatedly, consistently, and
passionately spoken out, as he puts it so clearly, for “No more shock
for Ray.” He has signed a release of information form. He approved
MFI and National Public Radio using his full name in a broadcast that
reached an estimated two million people. LSSMN’s attorney admits the
First Amendment protects the rights of this campaign.
The ELCA statement claims that “confidentiality” keeps them from
addressing Ray specifically. In MindFreedom’s opinion, agencies such
as LSSMN have the legal discretion and moral obligation to speak out
about abuse of their clients to legislators, media, and the public if
they choose. Ray has asked for LSSMN to do this.
At what point does confidentiality become cover-up?
However anyone interprets privacy laws, everyone admits it is
completely legal for ELCA and LSSMN to speak out in general to the
media and legislators about the policy of involuntary electroshock
itself, which can impact a number of their agency’s clients.
ELCA has addressed other tough issues over the years. For instance,
one of ELCA’s predecessor churches ordained female pastors as early
as 1970. ELCA publicly wrestles with other controversial topics
including abortion and homosexual pastors.
So what about joining a discussion about issues impacting people
diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities? Isn’t it time? Isn’t it past
*** Isn’t ELCA right that this is a matter entirely up to the courts?
According to eye witnesses, and Ray himself, his most recent court
hearing on 16 December, held in a hospital basement, was a mockery of
justice. Ray was not able to secure a better attorney. His court-
appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, who Ray says has barely
communicated with him, did not call one independent expert witness to
defend Ray, and has refused offers of free help from other attorneys.
Social justice requires not just courts, but a sense of individual
and group moral responsibility.
Washing ones hands as Ray is escorted to a forced shock on Christmas
Eve is not acceptable.
*** Where else can people raise concerns with the ELCA community?
You may choose to bring this matter up with your own faith community,
and ask them to begin to address these topics themselves and contact
local ELCA congregations.
Also, by coincidence, the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly will take
place 17 to 23 August 2009 in Minneapolis, the very region where Ray
is receiving his regular, outpatient, forced electroshock.
It is time for all religious organizations to dialogue about the
human rights and dignity of some of society’s most oppressed
citizens, people who experience psychiatric atrocities.
One would expect many of ELCA’s participants would want to lead the
faith community on the neglected social justice issue of human rights
in mental health, rather than silence public discussion.
To quote ELCA’s web site about their church:
“It’s a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love
for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed.”
*** Why do you quote a civil rights leader such as Martin Luther
King, Jr. about psychiatric oppression?
The civil rights movement was the inspiration for many social change
movements, including the movement led by survivors of psychiatric
abuse that began in the USA in 1970.
Other relevant quotes by MLK from his letter from a Birminham Jail
include the following:
“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and
states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about
what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly….
“An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and
natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law
that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues
are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the
“You may well ask, ‘Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so
forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in
calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct
action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and
foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused
to negotiate is forced to confront the issue…
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s
great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White
Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate,
who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a
negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace
which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with
you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of
direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the
timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept
of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more
convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is
more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill
will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright
Here is the reply ELCA has been sending to many people who have
expressed concern about Ray:
Statement from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] About
Campaign Against Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford
Date: December 16, 2008 7:36:03 AM PST
Thank you for writing concerning a story you have heard or seen in
the public media. The ELCA is not related to the situation, except as
a sponsor of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of 280 such
organizations in the Lutheran Services in America network.
Sponsorship is a fairly loose term from a churchwide perspective, and
usually means that people in the area of the affiliated agency
represent the church on the agency’s board, and individuals and
congregations may also contribute some funding to the agency.
Here is a response from Lutheran Services in America which explains
the situation about which you are concerned:
To respond to your inquiry and comments regarding a recent story
about the medical situation of a vulnerable adult under a civil
commitment proceeding, who also has a court appointed guardian:
As a guardian, Lutheran Social Service has both a legal and ethical
duty to keep the specific details of clients’ care and treatment
confidential. While we can’t discuss the client specifically, we can
speak in general about how we carry out our work.
Lutheran Social Service is appointed by the court to serve as a
guardian or conservator to over 800 vulnerable adults in Minnesota.
We are court-appointed to take on this role when individuals lack the
capacity to make decisions about their affairs and there are no
family members who are either able or willing to take on that
A civil commitment is a separate proceeding in the State of
Minnesota. When a person is civilly committed, a decision to impose
electroconvulsive therapy (“ECT”) is a decision made by a commitment
court and not the court appointed Guardian. In the commitment process
someone, normally a health care professional, brings a petition for
ECT treatment for the individual. The individual is assigned an
attorney and a guardian ad litem (not Lutheran Social Service) who
act as advocates either to oppose or to consent to the petition. The
commitment court hears evidence from medical professionals and then
makes a decision on whether to impose the ECT treatment. The court
decision is then appealable by the client and the client’s attorney.
Under Minnesota Statute §524.5-313, a general guardian such as
Lutheran Social Service has no authority to impose ECT treatment
against the known conscientious, religious or moral beliefs of the
individual. The general guardian is not a participant in the civil
commitment process regarding the forced imposition of ECT treatment.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has a long tradition of serving
vulnerable children and adults, and careful systems are in place to
ensure that decisions are made with the person’s best interest in mind.
Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director
LSS Guardianship Options
I hope this helps you understand the situation, and that you will
tell whoever suggested that writing to the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America might help make a difference that they are
misdirecting you and many other people.
Miriam L. Woolbert
ELCA Communication Services
The above was sent by ELCA to a number of people in response to Ray
Alert #7 about National Public Radio coverage of Ray’s campaign,
which you can hear or read here:
For more information on the Ray Campaign see:
Oregon Consumer/ Survivor Coalition
Health and disability forum
WowDHEC (Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition, www.wowdhec.org) is a dynamic non-hierarchical group that I belong to and we are gathering information for the Obama-Biden Team. Please join us on 1/30/08 in Portland for the forum. Men are welcome too!
If you can’t make it, please fill out the survey at
Are you a person with a disability or know someone who is?
Is it hard for you to be healthy, because of conditions in society and the health care system?
Well, here?s your chance to do something about it!
(For those that can?t attend, please fill out a short Health and Disability survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Qh2E4sc3d9ffNEp7CHyt9A_3d_3d)??
We would love to hear your opinions!
WowDHEC (Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition) http://www.wowdhec.org
is hosting a Health and Disability Forum to talk about the negative effects
of our health system on people with disabilities and to brainstorm solutions.?
We want to hear from as many voices within the disability community as
possible! We are a cross-disability group that includes people with visible and ?invisible? disabilities (mental health issues, cognitive disabilities, etc.)? Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible.?
This is urgent!?
Right now President-elect Obama is asking for feedback about how to improve our health system — and the Obama Transition Team is asking people around the country to hold community discussions through Dec. 31st.
What we learn from you will be shared with the Obama Transition Team and used to advocate for policy change locally and statewide.
Please join us and pass this along to others in the disability community.? To get a head count, an RSVP is appreciated, but not required.
To RSVP or if you have any other accommodation needs, questions or concerns,
Muench at email@example.com
1. What conditions in your life do you believe affect your health? (for example, support from friends and family, your economic status, how you are treated by others, etc.)
2. What conditions make it harder or easier for you to protect your health?
3. What needs to change in your life conditions in order for you to be healthier?
4. What do you perceive is the biggest problem in the health system?
5. How do you choose a doctor or hospital? What are your sources of information? How should public policy promote quality health care providers?
6. Have you or your family members ever experienced difficulty paying medical bills? What do you think policy makers can do to address this problem?
7. In addition to employer-based coverage, would you like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?
8. Do you know how much you or your employer pays for health insurance? What should an employer’s role be in a reformed health care system?
9. Have you gotten the prevention health services you should have? If not, how can public policy help?
10. How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?
Marjorie McGee, M.S., L.P.C.
EFT and Trauma
Emotional Freedom Technique
Studies show that up to 97% of those of us who carry a diagnosis of mental illness are trauma survivors. I asked 100 people who have been so labeled and all of them had significant trauma history with most being traumatized over and over again through the agencies and hospitals that are supposed to help them. I also asked each one:
“Have you ever received treatment for trauma as part of your mental health treatment?”
Out of 100 people I had 3 who told me they had formal treatment for trauma. Two said they had experienced EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing) and one said they had both EMDR and EFT (see below). I myself had very good results from EMDR but I have found EFT to be a much more useful tool because I don’t need a therapist to use it. I don’t even have to buy (another) self-help book.
EFT is a self-therapy that I have found especially useful in dealing with my own trauma history- Emotional Freedom Technique is available free, there is a free download-able manual, free ongoing information and forums. Download the manual here.
Pictures of Macaques:
or, haven’t you always wanted a monkey (click for full size)
bye for now