Mark your calendar

and come to Toronto’s Queens Park at Noon


By Connie Neil

I cannot understand why the general public believes that Shock – electroshock, ECT, electroconvulsive treatment – SHOCK is not still damaging thousands, mostly women, every day. This is the comment I hear, “They’re not STILL doing shock?” when I speak to groups about my book AFTERSHOCK, the book I wrote in 2016 about my devastation after my very first shock assault that burned away 8 to 15 years of memory. And what horror did I do to deserve shock? I had a baby and my nurse mother-in-law said I was not snapping to quickly enough.

AFTERSHOCK is also about the activist work we did through the early 80s petitioning Queens Park to investigate ECT. Although they ignored the 39 recommendations from that report, I – like all the general public – I thought they put a stop to forced shock, thought we were safe.

We were not safe. Instead the Shock Docs went covert, hid that they widened the portals to also attack too loud elders, too active school children. A few months ago I saw in Florida a special news show on how much good the psychiatric system does for a three-year-old very angry toddler, now drugged into submission. Very angry people have always been a part of society and we all have to deal with them, and they have to learn about their inner battles – not blot them out so they erupt in dangerous ways. Education heals ignorance, not drugs and electrifying the brain so it cannot learn.

The last part of my book AFTERSHOCK tells how I recovered with the aid of spiritual exercises, rooting out the evil within me, learning responsibility and, finally, how to forgive. If I had not been able to forgive, able to take that last step I would not be here today.

That is not when I wrote Aftershock. My mother died and my greedy brother wanted his share AND my share of her Estate so we were in an angry lawsuit. I don’t recommend it. And my angry self bumped again into the local Shock Doc. I went instead to the Internet to see what was new in Shock. There was a photo of Don Weitz, fist raised, shouting into a microphone to “Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers”. Well, I hooked up with Don and Bonnie Burstow, both still activists since our 80s battles against the psychiatric system and found out the sorry state of psychiatry, still destroying brains and memories and souls.

When will they stop? What will make the vulnerable people learn of the brain damage – always with every ECT – and speak out, demand that Psychiatry stop. Last month we thought a hunger strike would draw attention to our protest. Don Weitz asked me to join him in a hunger strike, and I said YES! I did not think of it myself, but it is a good idea. Don has fought against psychiatry for 45 years, since his teen years when he got insulin shock. This summer he works on his auto-biography, and what a tale to tell. This warning poem, “MAYDAY” came from Don’s compassionate heart, and dedicated to Carla McKague, Linda Andre, Elizabeth Ellis, Connie Neil, and all other courageous women shock survivors – my sisters)

wake up everybody

it’s shock day every monday-wednesday-friday

in psychoprison Anoka

where 67-year-old Elizabeth Ellis

waits in silence, refuses to talk to

doctors who can’t wait

to label her “catatonic”

doctors who can’t wait

to fire 200 volts

into her fragile aging brain

doctors who can’t wait

to perform electrical lobotomies on her sisters

doctors who can’t wait

to commit elder abuse

doctors who can’t wait

to commit psychiatric rape

doctors who can’t wait

to conspire with sons and husbands

to lock up and shock

daughters, mothers, grandmothers, wives

doctors who can’t wait

to traumatize,re-traumatize, stigmatize

women labeled






. post-partum

premenstrual dysphoric disorder

doctors who can’t wait

to erase memories – “side effects”, collateral damage

doctors who can’t wait

to damage brains,

doctors who can’t wait

to destroy careers and lives

your daughter

your sister

your girlfriend

your mother

your grandmother could be next

doctors who can’t wait

to silence voices of “noncompliant patients” , freedom fighters –

doctors who can’t wait

to con health ministers to fund shock mills

like Anoka, CAMH, Hamilton, Riverview, Bellevue, McLean, Langley-Porter, Rockland State,

doctors who can’t wait

to lie to patients, prisoners, families, lawyers, reporters

about “safe, effective and lifesaving ECT ”

to a disinterested disconnected world

ignorant, betrayed, brainwashed by

nazis in white coats who torture

in the name of DSM (2) and ECT (3)

who torture/lie/cover up in the name of mental health

time to rise up, fight back

against psychiatric fascism


Well said, Don Weitz.

The other member of the Coalition To Stop Electroshock that I met after such a long absence was Bonnie Burstow, a professor and activist author and founder of the first scholarship for anti-psychiatry studies. Last November Bonnie launched her novel The Other Mrs Smith and we are hearing good reviews from as far away as Australia. I’d like to see Other Mrs. Smith as a movie to show the public that ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is not a historical novel. Yes, electroshock is still alive, still damaging brains. Whether it kills us, or not.

Shock is not safe. Shock is not effective. Shock causes brain damage every time. And it is our government – this government – that funds this purposeful damage, and will not relent. Will they help protect us? The government cares not. This government approves the damage.

Only when we lie dead in the streets will government move to clean up the mess they are responsible for. Only embarrassment made them look at the issue in the 80s, look when the CIA admitted they were wrong to fund The Sleep Room in Montreal, brain-washing with multiple electroshocks daily those who asked for help for depression. But still they refuse to admit wrong by Canada, that Canada also funded this torture. Only when Canada was taken to a public trial did government act to pay off the survivors to keep them from public shame.

This Mothers Day we are telling of the hunger strike for next Mothers Day. I will be 80. Who will join me? I will do it alone if need be. But please join me to show our government that shock survivors would rather starve to death than submit to torture.

We need support. If you cannot stop food with me, you can find a way to support my effort, a way to stand with me, a sure way to say with me Stop Shock. Stop Shock now. Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers.


Walking On Fire

By Connie Neil

Twice I was involved in the Firewalking experience.

The first time was on a wild Wiccan summer weekend. Of course in the dark of night. I saw the preparations throughout the day. Participants with the help of leaders were psyched up while digging the fire pit, while laying the coals, while raking the fire evenly. I thought it was a bit hokey, and so I took out a twig and roasted a marshmallow at the quiet end of the fire. Pretty soon a fire leader approached to inform me this was sacred space and there were bonfires further up the hill in the woods.

In the woods I met a witch – the chief witch – who set up a time the next day to counsel me.

My second firewalk was just after my return from a solo backpack trip around the world. It was a coed fire weekend in Northern Ontario as part of the group I studied Seneca Wolf Pack native teachings with –friends, fellow students, native facilitator, guest fire leader. I did not know if I would attempt the walk, and was open about my indecision. The guest fire man –let’s call him Paul— had a recent accident and asked me to spread some needed salve on his back. I believe he had me serve him in order to connect me to the deep purpose of a firewalk, to the magic.

I participated in all the preparations, different from my earlier Wiccan experience in that we were paired randomly for lead-up exercises: making prayer bundles, drawing sketches of hopes for the climax, preparing food for meals.

By twilight, when we moved ourselves and the nucleus of the fire to the field of fire, I still had not decided to walk and so was given the medicine drum to support my friends’ efforts, keep their spirits up for the walk. There was a little chanting, and then our facilitator danced across the fire with Paul. Then again by herself. Another of our group bisected her path. I beat my drum. Soon many people, my friends, strode across the burning coals. The heat was blistering. We were all barefoot. Then Gloria, my very good friend beside me, took off and marched to the far side with a whoop. And back again to my side. These were my friends and I should join them. I handed the drum to Gloria. Took a breath. And walked. Unburned.

I admit my first step picked up a small coal between my toes and it hurt. But I walked all the way across the burning field. And back. By now, some of the group were literally dancing on the coals. But my walk was enough for me. Back at the house I inspected my burnt toe, but there was barely a bright mark left and no pain. Paul spoke to the group about the difference between his fire presentation with large corporations, and with our small teaching circle. The bureaucrats were loud in their encouragement of the preparing walkers. We just quietly got ready, and walked.

What I now know is that the moment my toe hit the blistering heat my spirit thought ‘ouch’ and quickly raised a protective cool shield from hot toe to above my head to encase me.

I saw a 2018 Firewalk Experience on the internet espousing the scientific theory that Love aided the experience as heartbeats of supporting relatives rose and fell in resonance with the walkers – but not so much with the unrelated watching tourists. Perhaps it was Paul asking me to treat his wounds that brought me into closer connection with our group and made it possible for me to walk over fire with my friends without burning. I know it was raised consciousness that did the trick and kept me safe.

And now I’m off again to walk through another form of fire. In a year, when I am eighty, I’ve been asked to do a hunger strike to bring attention to the thousands of women who face forced electroshock for the crime of having a woman’s character, for fulfilling a woman’s role, for their emotional lives, for birthing a baby, my particular crime.

I think I can do this without major harm to my health. I can do without to illustrate women would rather starve than submit to brain damage, lost memory and torn soul. I think of Gandhi on his walk to the sea to make salt. Not his hunger strike to stop the civil war – way too dramatic for me. Just a walk to make a fistful of salt is my fire walk.

Sole Journey part 2 – Petroglyphs

By Connie Neil


Saturday, January 30
Drove my rental car all around Big Island today to find petroglyphs, to see how Hawaiian ones compare to the wealth of carvings at Teaching Rock near my home in Ontario.

I detour to see King Kamehameha’s original statue, more than life-sized and recovered from a ship sunk in the Caribbean. I hear his royal clan were all giants. Further along the trail, I find Kamehameha’s heiau, a stone-built mound where he prayed. My goal is to connect history and the future. I am thrilled to find the real life setting of my collected three vision books of Hank Wesselman, telling of the race that inhabits the west coast of America some 5000 years into the future. The books give Earth hope for a future existence.

Doubling back a few times I locate the entrance to the up, up, upbeat, upscale resort where the Hyatt-Regency built their golf course around the King’s Trail and petroglyphs: shades of Oka. I am struck by the contrast between the whizzing golf carts on the asphalted paths and the lava-strewn trail I pick my way across. Carvings in stone surfaces relate native spiritual teachings, the faint tracings connect to my own shamanic healing path—my great hope for useful work in this world and the hidden world.

Not satisfied with the Hyatt-Regency site, I visit Volcano Park to hike two miles across the lava fields to see less accessible petroglyphs on the King’s Trail, a built-up track to allow permitted commoners in the times before the white man to pass from atoll to atoll freely without fear of neighbouring warlike chieftains.

The track is barely discernible, marked by sparse cairns. Over the ridge I see a boardwalk circling the stone carvings. As I move clockwise around the circle I find them hard to make out until I look back. The sun set them into shaded relief and they jump out. A plaque tells how mothers place their newborn’s umbilical cord in a hole in the rock, and cover it with a stone to bring long life to their child and what I searched for at Hyatt-Regency in vain.

I feel for the first time on this journey a connection to the humanness of what these people did in their homely rites and what I do today in my shamanic practice. It wasn’t until evening that I realize what I connected to this day. Years ago I’d had a strong emotional vision—very puzzling–of a blue fluttery, sparkling spirit drifting down to Earth and, as soon as her feet hit the ground, she became this thick-bodied, short-haired, red-dressed Neanderthal-like woman who went thumping off across the desert—thump, thump, thump—and I felt she was me, that it was important, but what did it mean? Spirit must walk the Earth in heavy, gravity-laden form? I come from the stars? I must travel the Earth? Walk the desert? And there I was tramping over the cindery King’s Trail, hot and barren, in exactly the red dress (a colour I rarely wear) of the vision.

Perhaps this can be my journey of recovery—not past time. I look within the time when my memory became blighted, how I lost my connections to self-control, hidden in the dark, threatening doldrums of my vacant damaged brain.

* * *

In a daze, nothing of Connie could respond for interminable days: until they talk about going back to the hospital for another treatment.
“No,” I scream in true terror. “Not that place, no. Please don’t make me go back there again. I can’t! You don’t understand!”

And when they insist the treatment isn’t finished until I have the full series, I scream, “I won’t go back there, not ever. That murdering shrink—your shrink—tried to kill me.” To refuse treatment, they were warned, is a sign I am not rational. Refusal and the fictitious ideas [read: LIES] about harming my baby or self, the signatures of Bob’s family doctor and his mother’s workmate psychiatrist are all they need for an order of committal, good for six months, or longer if I don’t respond adequately. But nobody told me any of this.

At the mental hospital I think Bob is signing the papers and answering questions because I am so down. For weeks thereafter when asked by staff on the ward if I am Voluntary or Committed, I tell them, “Voluntary”. I don’t know why they look vexed, until one day a staff corrects me, saying, “It’s time you start facing facts, young lady, that you are Committed.”

Oh, another test! Well, if it’s on the chart, why keep asking me? Who is crazy here, the inmates or their guards? Of course, dense isn’t the same as crazy. Or is the key word protocol?

The first few days are spent in Observation. In the glassed-in booth someone watches every movement (including toilet) I make. They take every personal item, all my clothing, my paper, pen and books. I wear a large shapeless provided housedress, and paper scuffy slippers. My paint-by-number painting is also taken.

If I put you in a cage, remove all diversion and say you will be watched to see if your reactions are normal, just see how you do. The object of Observation is to prove me crazy, not normal. They succeed.

Decades later, I had my record read to me. Three different diagnoses were made by three separate doctors, all of them indicating ‘borderline’ this, and certain ‘tendencies’; no cut-and-dried sure-fire mental illness or psychosis, no mention of “baby blues”. But I knew that personal relationships over my growing years plus wild after-baby hormones produced what they call a “psychotic break”, not a disease. On this ward there are several young mothers gone awry. The circumstances of life.

Well, now they have me, I will get through it as best I can. As tension-provoking as Observation is, I would trade it gladly for my next ordeal.

Next: Red Sand Beach

Sole Journey – part 1

By Connie Neil


I knew I had to tell my story when I heard that shock treatment was again touted as the preferred ‘gentle’ solution for depression. They got me after the birth of my daughter with their brain-destroying torture—never again. Response to shock dogged my steps around the world on a lone yearlong backpack trek. Sickly with CFS the past few years, I thought this may be my final journey.

I did not want to return to another sad, pointless life here: Let there be no desire unmet on death that could encourage another run at a hope-filled life. Reincarnation in several forms is a fact. If my countless lives on Earth, back beyond the time of Atlantis, contained mistakes, must I return to correct them? This world trip I wanted to see all the mysteries of Earth—so that I would not be tempted to return to a lifetime of unrelenting failure to connect to family. I am alone. Is that a sin? In the summer before my sabbatical year I succumbed to full-blown chronic fatigue syndrome for months, limping through my work days. Even my GP thought I would not recover this time . . . but with the aid of alternative therapies (my D list healers), I did heal to about 80% of my former strength. This year of the Three D’s—Dorothy, the Jungian analyst; Daria, the Naturopath; Desiree, the Intuitive Body-worker—was my best effort to gain body, mind and soul healing. I confess, I really thought I was dying. What better way to do that than on my feet? I practiced carrying my lightly-loaded backpack.

Mostly I lodged at Youth Hostels (who changed their name to International Hosteling as decrepit oldsters like me kept showing up). With my faulty short-term memory, I wrote notes to include in letters to the folks at home: mostly these jottings went to my long-time buddy, my power-of-attorney Paul, who saved them for my return.

Here we go. Bye-bye, World.

* * *


Pele is the primordial goddess of the hearth, fire, warmth, renewal, and safety from natural disasters that deal with fire.

Thursday, January 21
At Maui in Hawaii I prepare to see the House of the Sun (Haleakala). I visit the beach behind Kuluhui Airport, a great beach for wind surfing. All the little craft flit out to sea like butterflies, turn and return—in and out. I walk the sandy beach to the rocks, find the point where waves from two directions join, and stand there connecting with earth, wind, sea, sun. These natural links help me feel I belong on this Earth, that I can become whole and find the missing parts that were sheared off during electroshock many years ago.

From Toronto I had requested residency in one of three retreat huts in this valley carved out by Pele, volcano goddess. The waiting list is long. This hostel tour is the best I could arrange for a meeting with Pele. To prepare I quietly chant, connecting to Spirit. Some energy disturbance kept me from this connection over the past week. This morning I turned my valuables in to the lockup, including the Wiccan talisman that guards my house door and that I carried in my money belt (sends out the message, “Get Out, Stay Away, Get Away). I suspect this kept me from the spiritual because, now it’s safely tucked away from me, I connected at the beach easily. Better send that talisman home in my next mailing; It’s clearly too powerful to wear.

Friday, January 22
The summit sunrise is a washout. Actually, a rainout. Even with my full public works rain gear, I am soaked. In darkness I creep my way to the rocks overlooking the crater. Feeling blanketed by Spirit, I greet the four directions, my totem animals, plus the below, above and within, the Earth Goddess, and volcano Pele who formed this crater and islands. I perch on a rock and sprinkle a water offering (like we need MORE) all around me, and wait for Light while chanting Elora (my Angel name), Constance (what Dad called me), and EeKaDa (All Is One). My hands shape energy into a neat ball and pass it from one hand to the other, just playing, becoming familiar with the feeling of energy as it moves into my body to swirl through my major organs. Hello Pele. As it lightens I see a higher path to the summit, and move up, breathless with climbing over rock in rarefied air to the House of the Sun (Haleakala)—but she stays veiled today, my only chance to meet Pele.

The winds buffet me. In a rock shelter I sit asking if there are any Spirit messages for me. I rarely hear more than a word, if that, but still I ask. Amazed, I receive a lecture as Spirit Pele spoke; “You are loved. Take joy and laugh in the world. This is not goodbye. You are gathering yourself together. Heal yourself so you can be of use. You were wounded and could not see. Heal yourself. Gather yourself. Not goodbye. Be of use. You are loved.” AH HA! This sounds like my answer, my anchor, my grounding.

A great welling of new-found emotion fills my throat. I have been emotionless so long I can’t remember when I felt whole. Tears run down my face as I contemplate this message: the “not goodbye” is hard. It turns this trip into a different journey, harder: I can do bye-bye world. I am in the midst of my farewell trip. Feelings surge through me, fill me up, shattering my blunted mind state. My life is filled with sorrow and uncertainty. Tears fill my eyes and my breath catches in sobs. All my trip planning was done without feelings, but with the firm resolve that my little store of energy be expended in a good farewell to the beauty and goodness of this Earth. And now my emotions are back, and will have to be dealt with. My heart clutches.

No, no, I can not do it again. Pele speaks of my brain damage, but how can that be cured? When my thoughts turn to dreaded ECT it’s as if it is happening to me now. Oh no! Suddenly I’m back at my first shock treatment.

* * *

They wheel me into the white, tiled room and shunt me onto a table. “Oops-a-daisy. Slide over now, there’s a good girl.” Globs of cool slime smudge onto my temples, my chest, and the electrodes are lodged in those spots. The needle pierces my vein and fuzz creeps into my mind.

‘Wait! I can’t breathe.’ I can’t move or speak. My lungs are paralyzed. I try to tell them, to scream for help, but a mask with a hose attached blocks my mouth and nose, and I know no more. Except that I am dying, and despair.

How long after? Hours? Days? I have no idea how I got here. Where am I? “Hush now, Connie, don’t make a fuss.” Am I making a fuss?
Perhaps my name brings me back to the world. I know nothing else. They show me how to hold a spoon and eat. That man–Bob—keeps fussing around saying, “Hush,” and that he is my husband. That shrieking noise is my baby, they say, held up to me by a leering old woman. I know nothing; care less.

Something bad has happened. I no longer exist. A shell is left in my place.

Next: Petroglyphs

Book Launch at OISE – August 27,2016

August 27, 2016

Here are some photos and sound bytes taken at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.


2016-08-27-14-05-57 2016-08-27-14-00-02
Bonnie Burstow delivering opening remarks


Connie talking about her story


dalailama the_art_of_happiness
Connie telling about Raised Consciousness and the Dalai Lama



Don Weitz and Connie Neil

2016-08-27-15-51-54 2016-08-27-15-51-45
Don Weitz and his poem about Shock Doctors that Can’t Wait 



Connie fielding Questions & Comments 




Protest Against ECT – May 16, 2015

Global Protest: Electroshock /ECT – Sat 16th May 2015


The American Psychiatric Association met in Toronto for it’s Annual General Meeting, coinciding with a worldwide protest against Electroshock. In Toronto an organized protest met up at Nathan Philips Square/ City Hall…

Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square and City Hall


… and thence to Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Hotel at 123 Queen St W.


Facebook link:


Connie Neil

Connie was one of their main speakers


Sylvia Grady is the artist who made these puppets. They dominated both sides of Queen Street by the Sheraton Hotel.

 puppets  puppets  puppets
 puppets puppets puppets

More Photos…

Don Weitz leading his troupe



Don Weitz speaking out


Guitarist (have to search name) closed protest singing, “NORMAL”.