I presume many of us are challenged by the changes in our lives in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. I hope you are being kind to yourselves, and each other. I thought this would be a brilliant time to share good news. After years of effort by many people, the FDA finally ruled to ban “electrical stimulation devices” that targeted people who live with self-injury. The “stimulation” referred to is the literal electric shocking of people, electrodes attached to their bodies that can deliver an electric jolt any time a staff member decided to use the “device.” If someone began to self-injure, or possibly looked like they might be considered it, they could be jolted as a solution to a behavior that was deemed only pathological. Obviously, calling this traumatic is an understatement.
This ruling was made in early March, last month. Some facilities have been granted a 180 day period of “gradual transition” so this form of psychiatrically acceptable torture will still occur for another 4 or 5 months. But it sounds as if the shocking will finally end.
The primary facility defending their right to use the devices is the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, MA. For years I and many others addressed the brutality happening there and it seemed that nothing would ever be done to stop this medicalized torture. A long journey, many determined and tired activists later, however, and the FDA has come around. May we remember this result in the days ahead when we are all challenged to work to deny abuse and oppression or cruelty. There is no shortage of those but I believe that there is more compassion and energy and this win feels good. No fancy words, but good. Changes like these do not come about without great efforts by many people and I cannot celebrate you enough, those of you who made this happen. May you rest a bit and then on to the next challenge? Well done.