“What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.” Excerpted from Ernest Hemingway, Nobel prize-winning author’s suicide note following ECT
Electroshock treatment – also known as electro convulsive therapy (ECT) – is trying to make a come-back in the UK with Mental Health Trusts applying for ‘accreditation’ status for their ECT surgeries.
One could say the use of ECT reached its zenith by the late 1960s following the horrific portrayals of ECT in the movie ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’ and the amount of public outcry brought against the procedure by survivors and concerned groups.
However, ECT procedures are still very much in use throughout the UK today, but there is a severe lack of reporting on just how much ECT is being administered. A report done by Salford Mental Health Community in 1999, estimated 22,000 people received ECT in 1998. The most recent report done by the Department of Health was in 2002 and reported 2,300 patients received ECT just in England and only for the first three months of that year.
It should be noted that when electro shock is inflicted on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, this is viewed as torture and a human rights violation. When a recent dog owner refused to stop using an electro shock dog collar on his pet, he was prosecuted and fined £2000 plus costs of £1000, but when electro shock is inflicted upon vulnerable children, pregnant women and the elderly, it is called ‘treatment.’
There is nothing therapeutic about inducing Grand Mal seizures with 150 volts of electricity, and often against the person’s wishes. Like Guantanamo Bay, and electric dog collars – the procedure is torture and a human rights abuse!
Lack of Monitoring or Statistics
There is a serious lack of monitoring or statistics for this controversial procedure. The 2002 Department of Health report concluded:
* Between January and March 2002, there were 12,800 administrations of ECT.
* 2,300 patients received ECT
* There were 700 male patients campared with 1,600 female patients.
* 47% of female patients and 45% of male patients receiving ECT were aged 65 and over
* 73% of ECT patients were not formally detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
* Of the 600 patients formally detained while receiving ECT, 60% did not consent to treatment.
Since their inception these procedures have been dogged by conflict between psychiatrists that promote ECT and swear by them, and the large numbers of psychiatrists, victims and victim’s families whose lives have been destroyed. Psychiatrists deceptively cloak these procedures in medical legitimacy: the hospital setting, white coated assistants, anaesthetics, muscle paralysing drugs and sophisticated-looking equipment.