Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches
and Positive Behavioral Interventions

Derrick Dufresne

The Use of Shock

Click the CC button to view captioning

Derrick Dufresne: That's the easy one to talk about because you can say "We missed it. We missed it in the interview. We missed it as part of our screening." What tends to happen, and my own case being a perfect example of what I talked about before, about being willing because we needed to come up with a shock program for... Harry.

I went to Farm & Fleet and bought a portable cattle prod. And I remember checking out and having this clerk say to me, "You must be putting down a big one," and I'm going to use it on Harry. And I remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable, but we had the approval of the Governor, which I'm not impressed with, Human Rights Committees, Ethics Committees, 'cuz what can happen is, if you allow stuff on the menu at all, there's ways you can always ratchet it up to say, "This is such a thing."

You know the only reason we didn't use this? 'Cuz on the way back in the car, I shocked myself. I pulled over to the side of the road, and I said, "If we're going to do this on another human being, I want to see what this feels like." And when I did it to myself, I immediately made a decision I will never do this, and then I made every single person on the unit, including all of the clinicians, shock themselves before we did it to Harry. And once we got to some of the therapists, in particular the psychiatrist, they said, "I'm not putting that thing on myself." I said, "This program's dead."

We have got to have a different standard about whether or not something works, and that... that's the problem with saying "Well, it works," because you can keep ratcheting up stuff to the point where it will work, but it not only dehumanizes the person receiving the abuse, it dehumanizes the person delivering it. And I think that's unconscionable.

©2019 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.