An appalling look into attitudes in the United States toward the mentally ill and the disabled.
Torture: It’s Fun! It’s American. And it’s not just for “evil” foreigners…
From BUSINESS INSIDER magazine. Oct 4, 2013
Written by Erin Fuchs who gets the “idiot behind a keyboard” award for offensive language and sheer stupidity.
The wife of former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis has joined a growing list of people endorsing a mental health treatment once thought of as something like medieval torture — electroconvulsive therapy.
Katherine Dukakis, like other notable people, swears by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat severe depression. The once-controversial treatment, formerly known as electroshock therapy, pushes(?) electric currents through patients’ brains, intentionally giving them seizures for brief periods.
Doctors don’t know exactly how it works, but they believe it “resets” the wonky parts of the brain. It is legal in the United States, though it’s illegal to give it to patients younger than 16 in Texas and Colorado. (What? It’s legal for children in other states?) In some cases, with the permission of courts, doctors can force very sick patients to get ECT.
One of the more serious side effects of ECT is memory loss. ECT was discovered by accident, like many types of psychotherapy (many of which also have unpleasant side effects like sexual dysfunction).
Physicians began using the treatment in the 1930s after they noticed patients with severe mental illness suddenly got better after they had seizures. In the next couple of decades, ECT got a hideous reputation. The bad rap wasn’t completely unwarranted, since doctors used to use such high doses (?) of electricity they broke people’s bones. They didn’t use muscle relaxers or anesthesia, either.
The use of shock therapy declined until the 1980s, according to a Surgeon General’s report cited by The New York Times. In the ’80s reputable doctors began to acknowledge ECT worked remarkably well — as many as 70% of patients improved after ECT, according to that report. Musician Roland Kohloff described his experience with ECT to The New York Times in 1993.
“What I think it did was to act like a Roto-Rooter on the depression,” he told The Times. “It just reamed me clear and the depression was gone.”
ECT is not only effective, (so much for objectivity – writers have become pimps for institutional money-makers) but it’s also a lot less scary-looking than it probably was in the ’50s. Dr. Oz posted this video (a doc who flogs bogus health products on his TV show) of a severely depressed woman who volunteered for ECT because she knew it was the only treatment that would work. (So, the “patient” prescribed shock therapy for herself?) Her legs jerk slightly but her face remains expressionless as she gets the shocks. (Yes, this is a sure “sign” that the treatment is “safe and effective”.)
Of course, some still associate ECT with torture. Just a couple of years ago, Dr. Charles Raison called ECT the “most reviled” treatment in psychiatry. Given the skyrocketing suicide rate in America, though, psychiatrists will hopefully continue using safe and effective treatments at their disposal — even if the idea of shocking crazy people will always be unpleasant.
For a look at why many mental institutions in the U.S. were closed (in favor of housing the mentally ill in prisons)
WARNING! This is highly disturbing material, especially the video: http://www.opacity.us/site30_pennhurst_state_school.htm