The Journal of
Cognitive Liberties

This article is from Vol. 1, Issue No. 3 pages 77-78 (Fall 2000)
All rights reserved worldwide.  ISSN: 1527-3946




Forced Electroshock Halted After Public Stir

By Dendrite

After a hospital that had been forcibly electroshocking a 66-year-old mom was “deluged” with public comments, they suddenly reversed themselves. The hospital announced it was discharging Kathleen Garrett.

DesPeres Hospital, in St. Louis, Missouri, had administered two electroshocks to Kathleen Garrett against her will. The hospital had planned ten to twelve more forced electroshocks, but she will apparently be spared. Kathleen’s son, Steve, said his mom is “very happy to hear she is going home.”

Kathleen Garrett had endured two cancer surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation in the last year. Depressed, she voluntarily checked herself into Southpoint Hospital in St. Louis, where her doctor informed her he would be performing “electroshock therapy.” Ms. Garret refused the treatments, having undergone shock in the past. Her doctor immediately took her case to a judge, who ruled that the doctor could perform the treatments against her will.

Steve Vance, the woman’s son and primary care giver, brought an attorney to the hearing. Vance said his mother was heavily drugged and deliberately unkempt as they wheeled her in on a gurney to meet the judge. The judge ruled that Ms. Garret was competent, but that the forced electroshock could go on as planned.

During the first shock at Southpoint Hospital, the machine broke, and they transferred Ms. Garret to DesPeres Hospital.

The organizer of the campaign to save Kathleen Garrett was Juli Lawrence of the group “,” one of 88 sponsoring groups in Support Coalition International.

DesPeres Hospital spokesperson John Shelton told Dendrite that the hospital was “deluged” overnight by public comment opposing the electroshock. Shelton attributed the flood to the Dendrite alert. Sixteen hours after the alert was issued, the hospital told Kathleen Garrett’s son they were stopping the forced electroshock and discharging her at 2 pm the following day. When asked why, the hospital gave Mr. Vance no explanation.

Tenet Health Care owns DesPeres Hospital. Under its former name, National Medical Enterprises, Tenet was convicted in the largest case of fraud, bribery and conspiracy, in US history, on June 28, 1994, largely because of psychiatric human rights violations. In addition to the record $379 million fine, Tenet is enjoined from owning or operating psychiatric or rehabilitation hospitals. This does not, however, enjoin them from owning general hospitals that provide psychiatric services, such as DesPeres Hospital.

“Kathleen Garrett and her son had lost in a court of law. But this family won in the court of public opinion,” said Ted Chabasinksi, a survivor of forced electroshock at the age of six, who is now an attorney and is president of the Support Coalition International board of directors. “This is all about strength in numbers.”

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Dendrite is an online alert list created by Support Coalition International, an independent non-profit federation united to win human rights in the “mental health system.” Visit the group’s Web site at