Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock, by Linda Andre

Rutgers University Press
ISBN: 978-0-8135-4441-0
Pages: 336 pages
Publication Date: February 2009

Linda Andre was a writer, activist, and the director of the Committee for Truth in Psychiatry. Since receiving ECT in the early 1980s, she has been an advocate for the human and civil rights of psychiatrically labeled people, particularly the right to truthful informed consent. She has been interviewed by numerous publications and media such as 20/20, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.

About Doctors of Deception

Mechanisms and standards exist to safeguard the health and welfare of the patient, but for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)---used to treat depression and other mental illnesses---such approval methods have failed. Prescribed to thousands over the years, public relations as opposed to medical trials have paved the way for this popular yet dangerous and controversial treatment option.

Doctors of Deception is a revealing history of ECT (or shock therapy) in the United States, told here for the first time. Through the examination of court records, medical data, FDA reports, industry claims, her own experience as a patient of shock therapy, and the stories of others, Andre exposes tactics used by the industry to promote ECT as a responsible treatment when all the scientific evidence suggested otherwise.

As early as the 1940s, scientific literature began reporting incidences of human and animal brain damage resulting from ECT. Despite practitioner modifications, deleterious effects on memory and cognition persisted. Rather than discontinue use of ECT, the $5-billion-per-year shock industry crafted a public relations campaign to improve ECT's image. During the 1970s and 1980s, psychiatry's PR efforts misled the government, the public, and the media into believing that ECT had made a comeback and was safe.

Andre carefully intertwines stories of ECT survivors and activists with legal, ethical, and scientific arguments to address issues of patient rights and psychiatric treatment. Echoing current debates about the use of psychopharmaceutical interventions shown to have debilitating side-effects, she candidly presents ECT as a problematic therapy demanding greater scrutiny, tighter control, and full disclosure about its long-term cognitive effects.

  • "This book is absolutely fascinating and extraordinarily well-written. It is a major contribution to the current literature." --Michael Perlin, professor of law, New York Law School

  • "Linda Andre's book is both a powerful memoir of her own experience as an ECT “patient” and a documented account of the underbelly of the 'shock industry.' It raises profound questions about ECT that both psychiatry and the National Institute of Mental Health---if they want to be honest with the American public---desperately need to address." --Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill

  • "For many years, activist and writer Linda Andre has been forcefully and cogently examining the reigning (and mostly unchallenged) professed claims and practices of our medical establishment's wizards of shock therapy. In this thoroughly-researched, pathbreaking, and essential book, the author undraws the curtains that have for too long cloaked these claims, practices, and wizards. It is a work of courage, heart, and brains." --Jonathan Cott, author of On the Sea of Memory


Rutgers University Press web page - with book description, reviews, and events

Review in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, by Stefan P. Kruszewski, M.D.

The Electroshock Quotationary


Federal Register notice on ECT devices and opportunity for public comment (September 10, 2009)

Doctors of Deception can be purchased from Rutgers University Press as a "protected pdf" and as an eTextbook from Used -- and some new -- hardcover copies are still available via or Amazon.