The treatments used for "trauma" have always been extreme. From electroshock in the Second World War to the mind-altering, emotion-numbing drugs of today, all have harmed in the name of "help."


Opium: In the Civil War, opium was used to get soldiers, paralyzed with depression and hysteria, to sleep. One doctor went on to use it in his New York practice, addicting his patients in the process.55

Electroshock: During World Wars II and I when German soldiers complained of battle fatigue or neurosis from a fear of attack (shell shock), psychiatrists found a way of overriding their fears. They overwhelmed the individual with painful electric shock while simultaneously giving them hypnotic suggestions.

The developer of this practice was Fritz Kaufmann, a neurological and medical officer with the German army during World War I. He summarized his procedure as follows: "Our process is made up of four components:

1. Preparing the patient with pre-shock suggestions.

2. The application of a strong alternating current combined with plentiful verbal suggestions.

3. Suggestions in the form of military-style commands.

4. The strict enforcement that they must be healed in one session."56

Psychiatrist Leo T. Alexander, who with the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, wrote a paper entitled, "Neuropathology and Neurophysiology, Including Electro-Encephalography, in Wartime Germany," stating, "...[R]egarding neurosis problems, Dr. Jahnel [a psychiatrist from the Kaiser Wilhelm Research Institute in Germany] feels that in the First World War one had confronted this problem in a helpless manner. He feels this problem has now been solved by means of suggestive treatment with the aide of painful electric currents, as well as by the policy of not letting the patients attain the goals which the illness served. In the last war, the patients definitely felt that they could attain things by their illness, while in this war they could not."57

An electric shock box was developed for use on German soldiers near the front. With this instrument, it was not uncommon for soldiers to be killed not by the war, but by their attending psychiatrists. Dr. Emil Gelny, a psychiatrist and a member of the Nazi party since 1933, founded a procedure known as "electro-executions," described as follows: "Once a patient went unconscious from the effects of electricity, the caretakers then had to attach four electrodes to the hands and feet of the patient. Dr. Gelny ran high voltage through them and after ten minutes at the most the death of the patient would set in."58

From the very beginning, electroshock was a method of discipline and a means to cover up embarrassing breaches in the nobility and honor demanded of German military service.

Deep Sleep Treatment or Modified Narcosis: This involved knocking the individual unconscious for a period of days or weeks, using massive doses of psychiatric drugs, usually sedatives and/or barbiturates. Sometimes, daily electroshock treatment accompanied it. In the 1920s, it had a 4.8% mortality rate. During WWII narcosis was employed on a large scale for acute battle neuroses.59 The treatment carries with it grave risks, including pneumonia, blood clotting, cardio-respiratory problems and brain damage.

The American Handbook of Psychiatry states that the results of the therapy were unpredictable, at best empirical, and the procedure was not without risks.60

In Australia, deep sleep treatment was banned in 1983 because of its high death rate; in one private psychiatric hospital, 48 patients were killed as a result of the procedure. Manslaughter charges were eventually laid against several of the psychiatrists who administered it.

Drugs: "Giving psychoactive drugs to people with PTSD can compound their difficulties with concentration and focusing attention," wrote one Maryland psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists also recommend sleeping tablets, better known as sedatives or tranquilizers (benzodiazepines). These can be addictive after 14 days of taking them. Psychiatrist Sydney Walker III, stated, "If stress is normal and benzodiazepines are dangerous, and if benzodiazepines don't 'treat' stress anyway, then why do psychiatrists and other doctors continue to prescribe these drugs for stress?"61

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which are currently being prescribed for PTSD can cause headaches, nausea, anxiety and agitation, insomnia and bizarre dreams, loss of appetite, impotence, confusion and akathisia. It is estimated that between 10 and 25% of SSRI users experience akathisia, often in conjunction with suicidal thoughts, hostility and violent behavior.

Of course we are all suffering from this terrorist ordeal, but the public should realize that by labeling our perfectly normal reactions as PTSD psychiatry declares we are mentally ill. And once applied to an individual, that label sticks.

We may be suffering, but we are not mentally ill; this is not a time for us to be "fogging" out on psychiatry's dangerous, mind-altering drugs. In fact, quite the reverse, we need our wits about us during our national and individual recovery efforts.