introducing readers to writers since 1995

January 29, 2004

Houghton Mifflin Sued for Reprinting Science Article

by Ron Hogan

The Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, a national organization of people who have been through electric shock therapy, believe it causes brain damage (including memory loss), and want to warn others about the potential risk, has sued Houghton Mifflin and Daniel Smith for $20 million in punitive damages linked to the publication of "Shock and Disbelief," which originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, in The Best Science and Nature Writing 2002.

One angle mentioned in CTIP's press release, the idea that Smith links the organization to Scientology, isn't borne out by my reading of the article. (Note: I'm no lawyer.) He points out that there's another anti-ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) group that the Church of Scientology has founded, but apart from pointing out that the two groups are against ECT, I didn't see that he made the connection CTIP claims he made.

As for the other claim, that the article said CTIP's director had been committed to a mental institution, well, a quick read revealed this passage: "She told me she first became involved in the organization in 1985, several months after she received fifteen 'shock' treatments at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, in New York City. " Also, "Andre says she escaped from the hospital several times before her treatment began, and that each time her brother recommitted her." So the resolution of that disputed issue should prove interesting, if the matter ever gets to trial.


I think you've just illustrated my points about Smith's writing. He created the impression that CTIP is against ECT, which is not true. He made you believe that I made those statements you quoted above, which is not true. It's true that he printed them; it's not true that I said them. Therein lies the case.

Posted by: Linda Andre at February 11, 2004 03:33 PM
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