Pain and Shock in America: Politics, Advocacy, and the Controversial Treatment of People with Disabilities
The first book to be written on the Judge Rotenberg Center and their use of painful interventions to control the behavior of children and adults with disabilities.
For more than forty years, professionals in the field of disability studies have engaged in debates over the use of aversive interventions (such as electric shock) like the ones used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. Advocates and lawyers have filed complaints and lawsuits to both use them and ban them, scientists have written hundreds of articles for and against them, and people with disabilities have lost their lives and, some would say, lived their lives because of them. There are families who believe deeply in the need to use aversives to control their children’s behavior. There are others who believe the techniques used are torture. All of these families have children who have been excluded from numerous educational and treatment programs because of their behaviors. For most of the families, placement at the Judge Rotenberg Center is the last resort.
This book is a historical case study of the Judge Rotenberg Center, named after the judge who ruled in favor of keeping its doors open to use aversive interventions. It chronicles and analyzes the events and people involved for over forty years that contributed to the inability of the state of Massachusetts to stop the use of electric shock, and other severe forms of punishment on children and adults with disabilities. It is a long story, sad and tragic, complex, filled with intrigue and questions about society and its ability to protect and support its most vulnerable citizens.
Praise for Pain and Shock in America: Politics, Advocacy, and the Controversial Treatment of People with Disabilities
"A history of the notorious Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, and the fight to ban the use of electric shock treatment and other severe punishments on disabled children and adults. This is a historical case study that remains sadly relevant, as aversion therapies are still encouraged in many places."
— The Bookseller
“. . . . An in-depth, riveting, and devastating account of violent treatments known as aversives, used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. Nisbet’s painstakingly detailed history insists that we must not look away—as too many have done—from these horrific stories.”
“A history of the notorious Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, and the fight to ban the use of electric shock treatment and other severe punishments on disabled children and adults… An incredibly well-documented book.”
"This important book brings to light the shameful history of torturous methods used on individuals with developmental disabilities. If animals or prisoners of war had been subjected to this torture, the perpetrators would have been charged with felony cruelty to animals or war crimes. I am hopeful that by exposing what has occurred at the Judge Rotenberg Center, this work will finally bring this sad chapter of our history to an end."
— Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures
"Nisbet provides important insights into the present-day use of aversive interventions and the ongoing struggle for disability justice. Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.”