Graduated Electronic Decelerator Use

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has recently overturned a ban by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on electronic shock devices used at one institution and school in Massachusetts. The court’s ruling overturns an FDA rule banning a device called the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED) used to correct “self-harming” behavior in adults and children. The court made this rule because it concluded that the FDA lacks the authority under federal law to ban this device.

The FDA’s investigation found that the devices caused an unreasonable and dangerous risk of illness or injury citing evidence of physical and psychological harm “including worsening of underlying symptoms, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, burns and tissue damage.” Furthermore, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture released a report concluding that the use of this device as a means for behavior control violated the U.N.’s  convention against torture.

MFTs must not engage or promote the use of any device that is harmful to clients or abusive to the therapeutic client relationship.


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