View Full Version : ECT- Living Better Electrically
I know two people who have had the treatment. One did well, it seemed to have no effect on the other.
This hand, to tyrants ever sworn the fow, for freedom only deals the deadly blow, then sheathes in calm repose the vengful blade, for gentle peace in freedoms hallowed state. John Quincy Adams
AH, Cecil. Finally a topic I have more than a modicum of information about.
As a healthcare provider (ghastly euphemism) I've assisted in administering Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) to at least 60 patients in the past ten years. Probably 600 episodes. I do have an opinion about this technique and that is that when it works it works great and when it fails, well, life sucks.
I've seen patients curled in the fetal position, unable to relate to anything or anyone, blossom into persons again. I've also seen tragic failures where probably no therapy would have resulted in a happier outcome.
In all cases, I have never seen any deleterious effects from the therapy itself. Transient confusion (resolving in a couple hours) and loss of memory of the event (the ECT and a few minutes before) were the most common side effects. Anesthesia always controlled the flow of events and assured the safety of the patient. A quick acting barbiturate was given via an I.V. and when the patient was asleep a rapid onset, short action neuro-muscular paralyzing agent administered, usually succinylcholine. The patient is now asleep, essentially paralyzed, and completely monitored. The anesthesiologist assure adequate respirations via a resuscitation bag and 100% oxygen.
The ECT itself is unspectacular. A previously inflated blood pressure cuff on the ankle kept the paralyzing drug out of the foot so we can monitor the the peripheral seizure by watching the toes twitch. An electroencephalogram (EEG) allows us to monitor the central seizure by watching the brain wave patterns. The usual seizure lasts approx. one minute. If the seizure continues for longer that anticipated, drugs can be given that stop the impulses. A common goal is to give between 500 to 1000 seconds of treatment over time. The patient MUST be closely monitored for clinical effect; no improvement is often not a reason to terminate treatment early on in therapy.
Wordy, but I hope this dispels some rumors and misconceptions. ECT is not a panacea nor an evil, just a tool.
Anyway, just what sort of things require a person to have such wonderful treatment Germ Boy? Also, can I get it done just by asking for it ?
Not that I'm a doctor (or even a healthcare provider), but if you're looking for a buzz or high I'd imagine you'd be disappointed.
Being used as a living electrical resister is seldom a pleasant experience. :)
"I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms." -The Secret of Monkey Island
Shouldn't it be:
'Better living through electricity'
Anyway, just what sort of things require a person to have such wonderful treatment Germ Boy? Also, can I get it done just by asking for it ?
I do have an opinion about this technique and that is that when it works it works great and when it fails, well, life sucks. <snip> In all cases, I have never seen any deleterious effects from the therapy itself. <snip> ECT is not a panacea nor an evil, just a tool.
Shouldn't it be:
'Better living through electricity'
Anyway, just what sort of things require a person to have such wonderful treatment Germ Boy? Also, can I get it done just by asking for it ?
I was wondering when folks were going to get around to the Reddy Kilowatt lines . . . I'm just glad somebody else went first.
I've known two people who had ECT . . . both highly intelligent, creative people who happened to have "nervous breakdowns."
The first one, a former librarian with a master's degree from Emory University, wound up with the approximate IQ of a 10 year old. She was so jolted from her experiences that she never recovered and lived the rest of her life as a perpetual child. She was sweet, she was innocent . . . and she lived like 50 years in that condition. It was too sad. In fact, it contributed to her demise; she let a stranger into her house, never dreaming that anybody would ever hurt her. He raped and killed her, but she was really killed all those years ago.
The second person I've known was a jazz pianist. Not only does he have no memory of his treatments, he has very little short term memory . . . or long term, for that matter. Which is an inconvenient thing for someone that made their living by playing stuff out of his head. I wish I had a penny for everytime I've played with him, gotten nearly through something . . .and he stops . . . and says, "I can't remember the rest of it." He can't remember people's names when he meets them, has "blanks" when he forgets things . . . It's heartbreaking.
ECT probably helps as many folks as lobotomies and in the same fashion -- you're a better person in society's eyes when you're quiet. The reference to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is most appropriate, see what happens to troublemakers?
ECT has been mostly discarded as a treatment but recently it has made a comeback, though I can't imagine why. My guess is that people are desperate for a quick fix, a cure; treatment modalities like drug therapy and psychological couseling are not always helpful and take too long. I have also heard that insurance companies will actually PAY for ECT, mostly because it's something they can do that's quick, cheap, and easy.
And why would you WANT something like this?
your humble TubaDiva
who reminds you that there's better ways than "shaking hands with Jesus."
Mother Nature gave me two treatments for free. I do not look forward to a third. I may not be lucky enough to survive. I had not thought (?) to use this as an excuse for my strang behavior though. Humm I wonder if the police would............ <-- 3¼¢
I don't know about the rest of y'all; however, I'm still wondering about Germ Boy's use of the terms "100% Oxygen" and "assure the patient's safty" to describe a procedure which is basically electrocution
I think this thread is revealing in that the myth persists that ECT is inherently bad and that its use is somehow cruel. First, (ooo, those flames are close) it HAS been used inappropriately used in the past, for punitive purposes mostly. Second, its true mechanism of action is not completely understood (neither is the effect of aspirin for that matter) so its use could be labeled suspect. Third, it's not the first line treatment for any disease.
All the patients I worked with had been in treatment for their mental difficulties for some time before the option of ECT was even broached; we didn't even think of it until many other regimes (chemical) had been explored. This treatment ain't for everybody.
COncerning the 2 "failures" outlined above, what other meds were, or are, the librarian and pianist on? What is their psychiatric disease? Are they currently in therapy? The questions abound.
Again, ECT is a tool. As such, the skill of its user is the greatest determinant of success.
Again, ECT is a tool. As such, the skill of its user is the greatest determinant of success.
You go first, okay?
As far as any prejudice I might have, well, I've seen such marvelous use of this tool I'm not likely to be pro-shock therapy any time soon. I saw real suffering (and in one case, real death) because of it and that's no myth.
your humble TubaDiva
Was this a case of gross malpractice, or does the legal waver cover a ride on Ol' Smokey?
"I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms." -The Secret of Monkey Island
"I saw real suffering (and in one case, real death) because of it and that's no myth."
I do not doubt your veracity. I am interested to know a least a couple details of this incident.
I am not beating a drum for ECT but do believe that peeling away the veil of mystery surrounding any procedure allows better decisions.
BTW, I would submit to ECT only after many other avenues had been traveled and turned out to be dead ends.
All things considered, this thread can go many pages in the effects and controversy surrounding ECT … and still be barely the outer layer of the “onion” of this topic.
What is perhaps topping the “bothersome” factor is somehow still hidden from public knowledge…
- Such as who owns the company that makes the ECT machines, and the influence on the use of the procedure…
- Also, the only state that requires tracing the statistics and patients is Texas… with numbers being thrown around that significantly misrepresent the success and the risks…
- The profit and professional incentive in using non-surgical techniques to treat people.
-The statistically significant (extreme is a better word) rise in referrals for ECT when patients qualify for Medicare
-The very short term (less then a month) that “successful” treatments have relapsed into their illnesses
ON the flip side…..
-Case studies of people who spent so many years (unsuccessfully) with drug and other therapies.
-Misrepresentation of memory and behavioral side effects by opponents of ECT
Personally---- I find this is the rare subject that I cannot have a discrete opinion on…
I was fascinated when I studied several chapters of “great and desperate cures” in December, ’98 , while researching the history of lobotomy . I agree with Unka Cecil’s recommendation of this book… it was very “eye opening”.
For those that are still paying off there Straight Dope bills at the local bookstore… or find Dr. Valenstein's
Book very hard to find or order… a web site has acquired permission to post the book on his site for research and knowledge. web site has acquired permission to post the book on his site for research and knowledge. The following site also has several other mind boggling articles on this subject:
for a statistical look at ECT , here is another link that is good foo for thought.
As a nursing student, I spent one horrendous day helping to give ECT treatments. The worst part, for me, was getting the consent form signed. Here's this poor elderly woman souped up on God knows how many drugs and I'm trying to read her this form. She told me she didn't want it done. I went and told the nurse, who talked to the woman for about five minutes and came back with the signed form. The old woman cried until the minute the paralytic took effect. She was a delusional mental patient; nobody took her seriously when she tried to protest. I wonder how many people are coerced into getting ECT?
She told me she didn't want it done. I went and told the nurse, who talked to the woman for about five minutes and came back with the signed form.
Holly, your point is well made and important. But the bigger evil you refer to is the fact that patients (clients, customers, whatever) are coerced into treatments or regimens everyday in this country. That it was ECT that yout patient was forced into agreeing to is irrelevant. In my 20 years of practice I have always rigorously defended a person's right to self determination. For any procedure where informed (key word) consent is required that has to be the overriding principle. I've known patients who have thoughtfully declined "lifesaving" treatments who have kept on living. I've also seen people who needed emergent treatments but because of an incapacity to make their needs known, have suffered while proper consent was obtained from a NOK. Your example is an egregious one and deserves to brought to light. A person on psychtropic meds must always be critically evaluated for their ability to make clear decisions.
Abuse is a part of the human condition and the caring professions are not immune. Please be bold and remember that at times you may be the only advocate that a patient has.
Okay folks, this is one I can actually field with some small knowledge. First a bit of background. I'm a neuropharmacologist who has specialized in the study of antidepressant treatments since 1983. Antidepressant drugs have been on the market since the mid-1950's and ECT since the mid-1930's. For the record, antidepressant treatments have been discovered either a) by accident or b) by copying effective treatments in a patentable way. Despite a boatload of work (my own included), we still don't know exactly how *ANY* antidepressive treatment (psychotherapy, drug therapy, ECT or chocolate) works.
That said, antidepressants work at about the following rate: Psychotherapy - 50-60% (higher in some cases), Drug treatments - 60-70%, ECS - 90%. The down-side is that depression is a *VERY* dangerous disease. It accounts for about half of the cases of suicide and even in those patients who aren't actively suicidal, it greatly increases risks for everything from immune dysfunction to heart disease and automobile accidents.
Unfortunately, antidepressant drugs, especially the 1st and 2nd generation can be very toxic. So much so that before the arrival of the 3rd generation serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac or Paxil, it was condidered very risky to give a patient a large prescription because of the ease with which that prescription could be used to commit suicide. Luckily, The 3rd generation drugs are much less risky and much more tolerable to patients.
HOWEVER, like their predecessors, it take up to 6 weeks of continuous treatment at the correct dosage to produce a real antidepressant effect. Since the success rate is modest (60-70%) and inconsistent from drug to drug (i.e. some patients will respond to Prozac but not Paxil while others to Paxil but not Prozac), it can be discouraging to the patient if not downright dangerous (because of the risk of suicide during those 6 weeks) to use medication. In contrast, response to ECT is very rapid, taking 7-14 days to produce effects. Moreover, those effects are observed even in patients who are very unresponsive to drug therapy.
LASTLY, older people are much more likely to develop toxic responses to antidepressant drugs or be at risk of dangerous drug-drug interactions (e.g. with heart or blood pressure meds).
All that being said, ECT becomes the antidepressant treatment of choice for reasons such as: 1) speed of response; 2) failure to respond to 3 or more drug treatments or 3) toxic complications from drug-drug or drug-fetus effects. (This last accounts for the higher than usual use of ECT with Medicare patients since ECT is more often used in the elderly). ECT is *NOT* used as a punishment except by incompetent psychiatrists.
There is no doubt that ECS can produce memory problems in about 5-10% of patients. However, permanent damage is rare - less than 1%. Contrast that with toxic effects from medication or untreated depression that can run as high as 30% depending on who's counting. And by the way, many of the horror stories that proliferate are either of the "urban legend" type or assume that the long term damage was produced by ECT (rather than the psychiatric disease itself, by the anesthesia used or by other drugs the patient is/was taking.
Sorry to be so long-winded but, I am after all, a professor -- it's what we do.
I'm a former teacher and registered nurse, totally and permanently disable by 13 out pt ECT's I had in 1983. The damage ECT did to my brain is verified on numerous EEG's. My disability is based upon this brain damage.
Less than a year prior to the ECT of 1983 I had graduated with honors as an RN at age 40. Withinin 6 months of the ECT I was officially diagnosed as "dementia", "organic brain syndrome" and "diffuse encephlopathy". The most profound damange is in the *direct path* of the electrical current, in the frontal and temporal lobes, as well as the limbic area of my brain.
Fifteen to twenty years of my life were simply "erased". Only a few bits and pieces have returned. I have serious cognitive impairments, all verified as a result of the brain damage induced in the name of "therapy."
I belong to a group of over 500 shock survivors, who have permanent memory loss and cognitive impairments due to their "therapy." Many of former professionals were unable to work (at all) after ECT.
The death statistics from Texas, which have been compiled quarterly for nearly 6 years now, show a death rate of 1 out of 200. This means 1 of every 200 persons receiving ECT in Texas is dead within 14 days of their "treatment" or "therapy."
California has kept records of memory loss for over ten years, and lists permanent meory loss as a *complication* (not temporary side effect) of ECT in alarming numbers.
I have spoken to approximately 200 shock survivors over the years, who have been disabled and devastated by ECT.
ECT took my past, my profession(s), my ability to work and learn, my musical abilities, who I was, and the mother of my children.
I call ECT evil, and a rape of the soul.
Anyone wanting more info on ECT will find it at www.ect.org or http://members.aol.com/wmacdo4301
What exactly does ROIZ mean by ''misrepresentation'' re:memory effects?
Also, as the primary author and llanfresh illustrate, the concept of being an ''expert'' in this subject basically boils down to knowing about the mechanics of the procedure as opposed to it's effects even though claims are made to the contrary. This is directly comparable with a nazi deathcamp gas chamber administrator giving a description of the mechanics of dropping a canister of Zyklon B crystals in to the showerheads and then claiming to know what it is like to be asphixiated by the gas.
By definition the only people who can legitimately claim to know about the effects of ECT are those of us forced to have it. The effects upon my memory were not transient nor are they misrepresentative of the truth. The effects on memory are just the start, however. Other effects come into play. Facial recognition difficulties, right/left confusion, word and number dyslexia, etc, etc, etc.
Why take my word for it. reinforce your ''expert''status with a dose or ten for yourself. Until then do not ''profess'' (literally) to know what you are talking about.
Let me clarify a few things about my earlier comments.
First - I do not support "enforced consent" unless the patient is realistically dangerous to themselves or others. Nor do I suggest minimizing the potential side effects or complications. Both are negatives in deciding on electroconvulsive treatment. However, side effects and complications exist for *ANY* medical treatment - not the least of which includes antidepressant drug treatments. In either case, the negatives have to be considered *WITH* the possible/probable benefits.
That's obviously a judgement call but, it's one that has to be made by patients, family, patient advocates, physicians, etc. Like any other judgement call, there is the terrible possibility of being wrong - sometimes disasterously so. For most patients, however, the judgement to use ECT results in relief of depression without severe side effects.
I do not dispute the fact that ECT *CAN* and *HAS* resulted in severe memory damage for some patients. However, there is not a single medical treatment that does not have its horror stories -- even antibiotic treatments have been known to kill people. Until we have better treatments, we have only two choices: abandon all potentially risky medical treatments (which ends up being the abandonment of *ALL* medical treatment) or accept, inform and try to reduce the known risks.
And by the way - Neither GermBoy nor I am trying to suggest that we know what your personal experience of ECT is or was like. I would trust your own assessment of that just as I would expect you to trust mine. Your bad experience makes ECT a bad choice for *YOU*. It does not make ECT a bad choice for everyone.
[[First - I do not support "enforced consent" unless the patient is realistically dangerous to themselves or others. ]]
Great expression -- I assume they smile when they say that.
Ilamfresh- "I do not support...unless", is about as meaningful as saying a Nazi does not support genocide unless you happen to be a Jew, a gypsy or homosexual. You either support the patient's right to say "no" or you are a part of that abusive system. Since when has ECT been recently used in "third part risk" patients? Most of the shrinks I know now declare that the target group are depressives. There is a tiny, itsy, bitsty little difference between mainstream medicine and pschiatric care provision. In all other areas of medicine the patient, (with minors, the parents) decides if to take the risk. Some, indeed, decline medical intervention at the risk of their life, sometimes for religious reasons. Life at any cost, however, seems to be the theme for American psychiatrists, who just happen, by coincidence of course, to make a metaphorical "killing" out of the profits of exposing their patients to the risk of shock. Yes, antibiotics can kill. Thing is, unlike shock, there is statistical evidence that they save lives. Also, of course, no-one is forced to take antbiotics.
ABithell - This may be a nit pick, but your statement "no-one is forced to take antbiotics" is not true. People with tuberculosis and other highly contagious diseases can be forced, if necessary, into quarantine until medical treatment is complete. In these cases the threat to the public (epedemic) outwieghs the individual's rights. In no way am I advocating forced ECT, just setting the record straight.
Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you will suck forever.
Okay, I know I should probably let this drop but, I hate being criticized by misquoting.
1. There are in fact, occasions when a patient's right to say "no" to treatment are superceded by the public's right to protection from the patient's disease -- whether that is infectious or psychiatric disease. As an extreme example, I don't think most people would object to quarantining a person infected with Ebola Zaire (or a similarly infectious and dangerous disease) -- whether or not that person objected. It is not a matter of "us right, them wrong" it is a weighing of risk to patient vs. risk to population.
2. I do not advocate ECT except as *ONE* option for the treatment of major depressive disorders (See my first post).
3. The evidence for the effectiveness of ECT in the treatment of major depression is pretty darn strong - 90% or more of people treated show evidence of significant remission of depression. This is validated by *BOTH* "blind" third party raters and by patient self-ratings. These results are even more impressive when you consider that the patients recommended for ECT usually have not responded to 3 or more drug treatments.
4. Please be a little cautious in tossing around comparisons with Hitler et al. Even if your comparison were valid on the grounds of means or result (which it most certainly is not), it is invalid on the grounds of motive. ECT is used as a *therapy* of last resort -- Not as a sadistic implementation of a "Final Solution" for obstreperous people. To suggest otherwise is demeaning to the 10+ million victims of the Holocaust and their families.
So now we got two ''experts'' ganging up on me eh? Good, that's the way I like it.
1. Mr.Jackson, I think comparing the abused ''mentally ill'' to removing the rights of Typhoid Mary is really clutching at straws, certainly, as you say yourself, ''picking nits.'' Real doctors support the concept of ''first doing no harm'', and rather than picking nits, would support a line of argument that seeks to protect the vulnerable.'' Hence the ''Mr''.Sorry, but you suck as a doctor.
2. llamafresh, at least the above mentioned individual has the guts to identify himself in his username. Would you like to do likewise? The comparison with the Nazis is more appropriate than perhaps you would like known. Who do you think carried out, many with enthusiasm, the obscene orders of Hitler re: the ''mercy'' killing of mentally handicapped children, one particular beast keeping the brains for later study? DOCTORS, FREQUENTLY PSYCHIATRISTS, that's who.
Funny how the right wing of medicine frequently describe the most violating of ''treatments'' as ''mercy-based'' or ''life saving''.
You may know that even The Royal College of Psychiatrists, (UK), who are still pro-forced shock, released the Benbow Report last year where they admitted that TWENTY FIVE PERCENT of psychiatrisys giving shock had seen DEATH OR SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES arising from the application of shock. I can send copies to anyone interested. The medics are having a bit of a time over here explaining that one away and changes in the law are expected.
So, just because mommy and daddy had the dollars to send people with white coats and numerous letters after their name to college don't mean they have the monopoly in the genius stakes. Given enough time and cash, you can teach a horse to count.If you then give him a job in ''WE SAY SO DRUG CORP.'', he might even be able to dole out pills.
You can't buy the ability to be humane however. Or honest.
Well, ABithell, we do seem to have a bit of a temper.
1) Rule number 1 online is NEVER take a screen name at face value. Had you bothered to check my user profile, you would see that the main reason I "suck as a doctor" is that I am a banker. Damn good reason if you ask me. I have reiterated this point in numerous posts in other threads, but you only seem interested in reading this one.
2) I did not compare the rights of the mentally ill to the rights of the physically ill, you did. I simply pointed out that your comparison was flawed.
I have no current stake in the ECT debate, and I chalk up much of the "information" in this thread to opinion - even if it is opinion based on personal experience. But if you represent something as fact on this board, such as your "no-one is forced to take antbiotics" quote, you had better be able to back it up. Perhaps if you had read the last sentance in my previous post, you would have understood.
Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you will suck forever.
Okay, AB. Since your last message was almost entirely given over to personal attacks, I am going to sign out of this thread. If you want to avoid discussion by using insults, that's your choice - but, I don't choose to participate.
I would only observe that the Benbow Report *did not* conclude a 25% death or damage rate from ECT but rather a 25% overall side effect rate. That's about the same or less than the overall side effect rate of most antidepressant drugs. In fact, the death rate with ECT is actually somewhat lower than the drugs because of a reduced rate of suicide in ECT treated patients.
It's fine to take a stand AB but, at least get your facts straight and don't try to make your case with strawman arguments based on misrepresentation.
[QUOTE]TWENTY FIVE PERCENT of psychiatrisys giving shock had seen DEATH OR SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES arising from the application of shock.]/QUOTE]
Specious argument at best. 100% of cardiac surgeons I know have seen death or serious consequences arising from the performance of coronary artey bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Some of those surgeries have been performed on patients who barely understood English let alone the possible consequences. Should we not condone it because it is an incredible cash cow for docs and hospitals?
ECT is not inherently evil. Heart surgery is not inherently bad. Their application to humans can be, however. Don't dismiss any therapy out of hand because of public mis-perception or hysteria. And don't ever assume that your doctor is a genius just because it says M.D. after his name. Be aware of risks and be ready to stand up for yourself or loved ones.
This thread has mutated from the original context but still has some good points and cogent ideas.
I stand by my opinion of ECT: a useful tool when applied appropriately. Nowhere in that opinion is the approval of using ECT frivolously or punitively or giving treatments to persons not aware of the consequences.
Llamafresh. Quite simply, you do not know your facts. Anyone wanting to verify that this guy does not know what he is talking about should contact either the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Belgrave Square London, or the UK Psychiatric Bulletin. The full title of the paper concerned is ''Electroconvulsive therapy practice in north west England, by Susan M. Benbow, David Tench and Simon P Darvil.'' ''Twenty-Five percent had experience of death or serious.....''This is a 1994 study, not 1944, 54 or 64. Published in 1998.
As to the Banker, well I hope the next stock market crash sends you to a pro-ECT shrink, as, judging by your username and evident interest in things medical, you may well have frustrated ambitions that you could do with curing by actually sampling the goods for yourself. As you said yourself,a nitpicker.
One thing that the pro-shock camp cannot stand is informed debate. The arguments cannot stand the light of day.
I'm still waiting for my memory to come back, and I'm celebrating the 1st year anniversary with lots to drink (after writing 3 term papers over the weekend). Still waiting for those wonderful effects from ECT to come back that persuaded me to do a tap dance for the kids and instructors at the medical school across the street while receiving those treatments (but for the life of me can't remember what I said). Anybody want the baby grand I can no longer play, having lost my "musical ear" and ability to read music after being shocked 6 Xs? I'm not giving it away free, though. When I figure the damage I suffered from receiving these great treatments, the damage it caused to my skeleton and joints, and any new surprises that'll cost me money. . . whatever I could've gotten if I had the money and guts to sue. Golly gee, I lost more memory with 6 ECT treatments than I did after the car accident I was in resulting in a depressed skull fx.! Post ECT I am now "abusive," "non-cooperative"--a whole new me! Marvelous tool, that ECT. Professional, legalized Russian Roulette (and I didn't say the "N" word).
I don't know what sort of a doctor can inflict repeated electrical closed-head injuries, and not recognize the signs of
organic brain syndrome. If all so-called mental illnesses are supposed now to be brain disease or brain disorders then these idiots better get some training in elementary neurology. These sub-rate physicians are simply mistaking the euphoria and confusion of brain trauma and memory loss for improvement of so-called mental illness.
It's an unforgivable scam, on a collossal scale, it's as simple as that. No study has ever shown any lasting antidepressant effect from ECT. It's a high price for the survivor to pay, when brain damage is such a distinct possibility, if not probability, for a few weeks relief from overburdening emotion.
----- excerpted from a recent survey done of 500 electroshock (so-called) patients -----
This survey can be found at url http://members.aol.com/wmacdo4301/electro/papers/equest.htm
What do a nuclear physicist, a chef, a Royal Marine commando, a plumber and 7 nurses have in common?
Answer: They are all linked by the same experience — powerful electric shocks through their brains that left a legacy of profound after-effects.
And these are just a sample from literally hundreds in our files — all shocked, not accidentally, but deliberately, by doctors who assured them it was a safe and effective way to cure their mental problems.
They have never met each other, yet again and again they describe similar effects that have disrupted their lives, ended their careers and left them with dull and blunted minds.
why do I feel like a robot?… why have I no feelings any more?…
why am I so fatigued all the time?… why can't I remember day to
day things like I used to?… are others as scared as I am of visiting the doctor?
After first hearing of us, many spent weeks gathering the courage to ring and tell their story. Some spoke for hours, relieved beyond measure to find at last someone who understood and believed what they were saying. Many felt they had been "mentally raped".
Here's an interesting "what if" for everyone to chew on: What if John Coltrane had not been sprung from Bellvue Hospital before the doctors scheduled his ECT treatment?
My supposition: If Coltrane had been given ECT, the Jazz lexicon would by shy many works of genius.
Fact from an NPR show on Coltrane I heard last year: Upon learning that Coltrane was scheduled for Electro Convulsive Treatment (known then as "Electroshock"), his private shrink got that man the hell out of Bellvue. This is not just a fantasy from a critic of unquestioned psychiatry. This is factual information availiable from medical records as well as biographies on John Coltrane.
No disrespect intended for anyone. You want facts, I give facts. Any opinions and suppositions I offer are listed as such. Consider carefully and draw your own conclusions.
One last question: if your computer was having a problem with it's hard drive, would you fix it by driving a power surge through the circuitry? I sure wouldn't. For some reason, the inventors of ECT who did not know anything about physical models similar to the human brain must have figured that the best way to "initialize" a human brain would be the equivalent of passing a power surge through it. Fortunately, the human brain is a lot more complex than a mere motherboard and hard drive setup. Unfortunately, a brain is not replacable.
I refuse to get emotional about this debate. Rather, I would like to encourage reasoned discussion. I also refuse to flame others as flame wars just show who can pee the farthest. I will respect the dignity of everyone here, no matter how much I disagree with those I see as bankers who dabble in subjects unrelated to banking and psych techs who have seen too much and only talk to their own kind to share notes. (I apologize I am offending anyone. That is not my intention here.)
We all have much to learn from each other, and at least I know whom to ask concerning investments or observations on working in a psych ward. In all professions, there are "angels" as well as "devils"--I use these terms broadly. Yes, tools themselves are neither good nor evil, but the ones who use those tools can fall under either one of those two catagories. Consider the phrase "the banality of evil" and the quote, "The only thing that allows evil to flourish is for the good to do nothing."
Considering the broad spectrum that we all carry within us, all of us are a step away from either good or evil. Many times, we do both at the same time. Being human is never easy, meaning that we all make mistakes. I just hope that I am never on the receiving end of an ECT "mistake."
Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, but greatly to find quarrel in a straw. --Hamlet
I've got several things to say about ECT, from both personal and professional experience. I'll separate the two into separate posts.
First, just a brief note about myself. I'm a journalist who has specialized in medical/science writing (even before I was shocked myself), and I am a member of the Federal Task Force on Electroconvulsive Therapy.
I have also done several independent research studies on the topic of ECT, some of which has been cited in US Government documents (the recent CMHS Task Force Report) and in Australian reports.
I was given ECT in 1994.
My family was told that it would be unilateral (one side of the brain), memory loss was simply propoganda from anti psych groups and didn't exist, and that it would cure my depression.
I was coerced into it by my psychiatrist.
I was not given unilateral, but bilateral, and have since learned that although unilateral is talked about quite a lot (it doesn't have as severe memory loss/cognitive disturbance), bilateral is what's used. Psychiatrists know that in severe depression, unilateral isn't very effective (some studies put it at 16 percent effectiveness).
I lost two entire years of my life. There is no possible way that it was NOT a result of the ECT. I had the memories before the treatment, and afterwards, they are gone. I'm still waiting, but they haven't come back.
I also have some cognitive damage, mostly the math side of my brain.
And, the ECT had no effect on my depression.
Okay, GermBoy is now thinking, well, we all know there's a horror story for every treatment. Unfortunately, with ECT, there are many thousands of horror stories. I get about 50 emails a day from people who have lost memories, or they have a loved one who doesn't remember their name and cannot function anymore.
And in my research, I've spoken to thousands who have been damaged by this treatment.
I could deal with it if I was a freak incident. These truly do happen in medicine. But this kind of memory loss and cognitive damage is not a freak occurence. It happens with regularity, and the patients are then poo poo'ed and told to get over it, that they're mistaken or lying. That compounds their feelings of victimization, of having been horribly deceived.
Talk to any survivor of brain trauma, such as a car accident, and you will find striking similarities among them, and ECT survivors.
>>COncerning the 2 "failures" outlined above, what other meds were, or are, the librarian and pianist on? What is their psychiatric disease? Are they currently in therapy? The questions abound.<<
Perhaps I've misunderstood your intent, but it certainly seems that you're indicating the two cases cited were freak incidents.
They are not.
I talk to people like this everyday.
From Germ Boy:
>>>As a healthcare provider (ghastly euphemism) I've assisted in administering
Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) to at least 60 patients in the past ten years. Probably 600 episodes.<<<
One of the things I've come across over and over in my research is this very thing. You administer the ECT, and the person is doing better.
Of these 60 patients, how many have you talked to, say, 6 weeks down the road? 6 months? A year?
One of my theories on why psychiatrists (and other health care workers who participate in administering ECT) are so convinced that ECT is a miracle cure and there are no bad effects is that they see the patient during the hospital stay, as they receive treatments.
The patient is then released...a number of patients relapse, or are angry that they've lost memory, and they find a new doctor. The doctor who performed the ECT actually in many cases DOES NOT KNOW that s/he's damaged someone.
GermBoy, can you cite any study that shows long-term benefit of ECT? There are none. *No study* can show any benefit beyond a few weeks. ECT may provide temporary relief from severe depression, but at what cost? Is two years of one's life worth four weeks of euphoria?
Those who suggest that ECT works by way of head injury have pretty good evidence from this particular set of effects...a series of treatment, followed by euphoria and confusion...then in a few weeks, back to depression once again...minus some memories.
>>>In contrast, response to ECT is very rapid, taking 7-14 days to produce effects. Moreover, those effects are even in patients who are very unresponsive to drug therapy.<<<
Again, the rapid response is usually followed by a rapid relapse. And one of the predictors of a poor response to ECT is a poor response to drug therapy. Yet those very patients are the ones pressured into ECT, even though studies are beginning to show that if drugs don't work, ECT is likely not to work as well.
There is no doubt that ECS can produce memory problems in about 5-10% of patients. However, permanent damage is rare - less than 1%.<<
Only a few states in the United States require any kind of record keeping with regards to ECT. California is one of those few, and if you look at California stats (kept by their Dept. of Mental Health), you'll see that the above statistics are total hogwash.
>>>And by the way, many of the horror stories that proliferate are either of the "urban legend" type or assume that the long term damage was produced by ECT (rather than the
psychiatric disease itself, by the anesthesia used or by other drugs the patient is/was taking.<<<
The horror stories are not urban legend, and I am horribly offended that you would chalk up people's disastrous experiences to a joke.
But it's a lot nicer to just say they're making it up, or they're confused..it was really the disease that caused the memory loss.
Shame on you...you invalidate the lives of so many people.
I don't think that ECT is necessarily touted as a long-term solution for depression. Meds (SSRIs, MAOI, etc.) are long term solutions, but ONLY because they are must continually administered. Stop the meds (not advisable) and the effect goes away, sometimes precipitously. ECT has some similarities in that it's effect DOES diminish after the treatment. Repeat treatments are an expected part of the therapy. Anyone who was told "One zap and you're better" was lied to. That sucks but it is a different issue.
I have had contact with most of the patients that I knew from their ECT experience. Some have said "never again" others say "it gave my life back" and another segment feels equivocal "Take it or leave it". Truthfully, most fall into the take-it-or-leave-it group. So, what should I do? (BTW I no longer am involved in the treatments; no dilemma just different job).
It clearly helps some and very likely hurts others. Is it my duty to disallow IT? Should there be state sanctions against it? Welcome to the world of tough questions w/ murky answers. Dialogue like ours is good as long as the flame level warms but doesn't singe. To close, I take every persons complaints and problems as real. To minimize anyone's experience is anathema to me. I've found it difficult at times, but I don't expect to be canonized anytime soon.
I find it "unusual" and quite frankly unbelievable that you had contact with most of the patients that you knew who you assisted administering ECT to. Generally when people have ECT, they don't go back to who admiinstered the ECT a year or two later and disucss their memory loss, cognitive impairments, and sometimes (as in my case) back problems from a fracture of a thrasic vertebra or jaw.)
Nor are there "look back clauses " in any of the 4 or 5 dstates that have any sort of laws regarding ECT. The state of Texas has had a reporting law for 5 and a half years, requiring reporting of deaths and has brought to light the fact that approximately 1 out of every 200 persons who receive ECT are *dead* within 14 days of their "therapy."
The state of Illinois is the only other state requiring reporting of deaths within 14 days of ECT, however, since this law was passed just over a year ago, I have no stats from Illinois.
California has reported permanent memory loss in alarmingly high numbers as a *compolication* (not a side effect) of ECT.
I don't believe anyone has implied that you should "dissalow it" (ECT) nor do you have the authirity to do so on a state or national leve.
I feel any responsible "health care provider" or professional would support and encourage state legislatures to at least pass reporting laws, requiring reporting of deaths, complications, and also having a look back clause questioning patients RE memory loss and cognitive impairments at 6 months and year after ECT.
Instead (and I have been present in a state legislature to see this myself) health care providers/professionals, members of the APA, are opposed to such laws.
To say that ECT "hurts" some persons is a gross understatement. To say it disables and brain damages them (and kills others)more accurate. Damaging the brain, particularly the temporal and frontal lobes, erasing years of memory and causing a person to lose his profession, often his family, and his very identity of who he was as a person is not what I consider simply a "hurt"....I consider ECT evil, particularly because it is done under the guise of "help."
I "hurt" my foot last week, and a number of years ago my ankle (fracture), burned myself when a cooffee pot exploded. These "hurts" all have either healed or left a manaageable after effect.
ECT did no simply "hurt" me. It destroyed who I was, and took the mother of my children.
ECT damaged my brain, and EEG's verify this.
A couple of months ago a friend of my adult son phoned to say his grandmother was in a psychiatric hospital. My son told his friend "I met your grandma...shes' a nice lady..if they are going to give her shock treatments, do the kind, the merciful thing...get a 45 and blow her brains out."
That is the perspective of an adult child of a mother who had ECT nearly 16 years ago.
I'll not dispute nor minimize anything you bring up.
I HAVE had contact w/ a great many of the previous ECT recipients because of the peculiarities of the chronic psych units in this hospital. I stand by my observations.
A couple of months ago a friend of my adult son phoned to say his grandmother was in a psychiatric hospital. My son told his friend "I met your grandma...shes' a nice lady..if they are going to give her shock treatments, do the kind, the merciful thing...get a 45 and blow her brains out."
Please, don't tell me this is resonable response in your eyes. If so then your willingness to polarize your opinion makes discussion difficult.
To one and all,
I had decided to leave this thread but thought that some of the subsequent messages were very interesting. I was particularly interested in the argument by several people that ECT has a very high death and injury rate. Since my last intensive look at the ECT literature was about 5 years ago, I decided to check the recent publications.
What I noticed was that almost all of the published material on the damage attributed to ECS was anecdotal literature -- that is, case reports. Case reports have been and are the natural stimuli for scientifically rigorous studies of an hypothesis. However, in any area of medicine, case reports cannot be used for generalizing because they depend on studies of a single individual's response.
Those studies that included a large group of people studied for at least 6 months each found survival rates after ECT were actually higher at follow-up than patients who received only antidepressant drug treatment (Philibert, RA et al, J. Clin. Psychiatry 56:390, 1995). In fact, the Texas retrospective study that I found (Reid, WH et al. J. Clin Psychiatry 59:8, 1998) indicated a mortality rate of 8 in 2583 patients. Of these, 5 of 8 were clearly unrelated to ECT itself (3 accidents, 2 fatal anesthetic reactions).
The most thorough study that I found of the effects of ECT on brain structure (Devanand, DP et al, Am. J. Psychiatry 151:957, 1994) concluded that they observed no evidence of ECT-induced brain damage in the sample of patients they examined.
There is also evidence that pre-ECT cognitive state is a strong predictor of post-ECT retrograde amnesia (Sobin, C et al., Am. J. Psychiatry 152:995, 1995). That is, some (certainly not all) of the severe memory problems after ECT may be due as much to underlying organic brain disease as to the ECT itself. As far as other, non-memory-based cognitive effects, Calev et al (Calev, A et al., Br. J. Clin. Psychology 34:505, 1995) found that the rate following ECT did not exceed the rate of cognitive impairment among depressed patients.
Please understand, I do not support uninformed or coerced ECT treatment for even marginally competent people. I also do not (for that matter *could not*) deny that there are people for whom memory and cognitive function after ECT is much, much worse that before ECT.
I simply say that the data doesn't support the idea that ECT kills or damages people any more often than drug treatments or in fact the underlying diseases themselves.
I wholeheartedly agree that ANYONE asked to agree to ANY major medical treatment - especially one that requires anesthesia (as Germ Boy and others indicate, the evidence for risk due to anesthesia is quite clear) - should thoroughly understand the possible risks and benefits. In fact, I strongly urge anyone for whom such a treatment is recommended to seek a second or third opinion before agreeing to be treated.
There is no doubt that the reason for the effectiveness of ECT in relieving depression is unknown. However, the same could be said for opiate analgesics until about 1975. These drugs have been used since before Hippocrates and the dangerous effects (depressed respiration, dependence, coma) were common side effects and complications. They were used without understanding the biological basis for their effects for over 4000 years for only one reason. People didn't have any better means of relieving pain. So they ate the poppy and accepted the risks.
The same is true for the treatment of depression. In spite of the hype from the pharmaceutical industry we do not, in fact, know why people get depressed or how to fix it. All we know is that every so often, we stumble on some drugs or treatments like ECT relieve depression more times than they don't. That's not very comforting for anyone - especially the patients - but that is the way things stand.
Germboy quotes Barb:
>>quote: A couple of months ago a friend of my adult son phoned to say his grandmother was in a psychiatric hospital. My son told his friend "I met your grandma...shes' a nice lady..if they are going to give her shock treatments, do the kind, the merciful thing...get a 45 and blow her brains out.<<
and Germboy writes:
"Please, don't tell me this is resonable response in your eyes. If so then your willingness to polarize your opinion makes discussion difficult."
Germ, why is this not a reasonable response? These are words from the heart of a child who has seen what ECT did to his mother. Would it be better to censor a child's feelings and pretend they do not exist?
Is this how your clinic works, telling people to not express their honest feelings because it's not 'reasonable discussion?'
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I know how I feel about ECT. I was raped a few years ago in a violent manner.
The honest truth is that I would rather be raped again as opposed to more ECT, as hideous as the rape was to me.
Maybe that's not reasonable either, but it's also from the heart.
>>>I was particularly interested in the argument by several people that ECT has a very high death and injury rate. Since my last intensive look at the ECT literature was about 5 years ago, I decided to check the recent publications.
What I noticed was that almost all of the published material on the damage
attributed to ECS was anecdotal literature -- that is, case reports.<<<
You need to read the original stats from Texas, not studies in journals. Richard Abrams is not about to report in one of the journals on Texas statistics that show such a high death rate.
In fact, I tell people to turn to the statistics kept by the state departments of mental health if they're looking for serious data. When you delve into so many of the journal studies, you'll find that the population studied was 8 people or a similar ridiculous amount.
It just blows my mind that the APA and other lobbying groups work so hard to keep the other 45 states from gathering any stats on ECT. Actually, I guess it doesn't, because the stats really tell the story. There's no Max Fink making up numbers that are carried into national reports. (He has admitted that his 1 in 200 stat concerning memory loss was a figment of his imagination, yet this statistic is continually quoted as an official number.) You get raw data, and it's worth delving into. For example, the California stats show a number forty times higher than Max's "official" 1 in 200 number from his head.
>>>The most thorough study that I found of the effects of ECT on brain structure
(Devanand, DP et al, Am. J. Psychiatry 151:957, 1994) concluded that they observed no evidence of ECT-induced brain damage in the sample of patients they examined.<<<
This study was a massive review of the literature, not the authors actually looking at autopsied brains or scans. There are studies that dispute this, and say the opposite.
While I am not criticizing the idea of a meta study, I personally think that a group of psychiatrists reviewing the literature is hardly the final word. Psychiatrists simply do not have the same understanding of the brain that neurologists have. They don't have an understanding of how memory works that a neurobiologist might have. They have a better understanding of how medications affect patients, and how many cool purple Zyprexa coffee cups you can fit on a desk, but honestly, their training in brain pathology is not in the same league. (This is not an attempt to smear psychiatry, just an acknowledgement of what most MDs accept as fact.)
Neurologists who specialize in brain pathology tend to be more outspoken about ECT. They are the ones who deal daily in brain traumas. The late Sydney Samant said it most eloquently:
Sydney Samant, M.D., Clinical Psychiatry News, March 1983:
(Copyrighted quote removed - Jill)
A study similar to the one you quoted also reviewed the available literature and came to a different conclusion:
(Donald I. Templer and David M. Veleber
Clinical Neuropsychology (1982) 4(2): 62-66)
(copyrighted info. removed - Jill)
I would also recommend reading the work of Dr. Peter Sterling, a neurobiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His stuff is just too massive to quote here, but he is adamant that ECT not only causes permanent and extensive memory loss more often than is reported, he remains convinced that it does cause trauma to the brain. Additionally, he has studied the complexities of memory studies, and how little ECT researchers actually know about memory. (He isn't the first to point this out.)
>>>There is also evidence that pre-ECT cognitive state is a strong predictor of
post-ECT retrograde amnesia (Sobin, C et al., Am. J. Psychiatry 152:995,
1995). That is, some (certainly not all) of the severe memory problems after
ECT may be due as much to underlying organic brain disease as to the ECT
itself. As far as other, non-memory-based cognitive effects, Calev et al (Calev,
A et al., Br. J. Clin. Psychology 34:505, 1995) found that the rate following ECT
did not exceed the rate of cognitive impairment among depressed patients.<<<
I haven't read this study, and will definitely read it. However, I find it interesting that this is a common claim, that the underlying disease is responsible for the memory loss, not the ECT. Why is it then, that so many people remember names, places and events up to the point of ECT, yet after completing the series, huge chunks of time are erased?
Mighty odd coincidences. (And reread the quote from Templer above; it addresses this)
In my case, I could remember a phone number I dialed once for years to come before ECT. My memory was never a problem. After ECT, two years are completely gone, as if they never existed. Those who know me know this story well - I had two friends who died in a tragic plane disaster.
I now have absolutely no memory of having ever known them, despite visits with their orphaned child, visits to their grave on Long Island, despite pouring over photo albums of past good times.
In my mind they do not exist.
If that's not one of the results of ECT, I'll break into a Riverdance and eat my hat.
>>>Please understand, I do not support uninformed or coerced ECT treatment for
even marginally competent people.<<<
But what would your version of informed consent say? That ECT has very small risk of slight, temporary memory loss? Or that there's a decent chance you could lose a chunk of your life....for FOUR WEEKS OF RELIEF.
And the California stats show that the rate (in Cali) of ECT performed FORCED ECT (not coerced, but forced, against one's will) is three percent. That sounds so small, doesn't it? But imagine California stats are reflective of national stats (which I do not believe they are on this issue; California has traditionally had more stringent regulations than the other states).
Annual estimates (imagine a system that cannot provide real numbers because there is no federal mandated reporting!) run between 100,000 to 200,000 people having ECT in the US each year. If three percent of those are against their will, that's 3,000 to 6,000 people every year being forced into ECT. My guess is the number is higher...and this doesn't even reflect the numbers who are coerced, as I was, but gave their consent under threats.
[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]
Least you are concerned that my friends' Granny had her brains blown out by a 45, rest assured, she didnt have ECT, last I heard, nor was she shot in the head by a bullet.
I spoke with a realtive of this elderly woman on the phone and told him that should ECT be pushed against the grandmother's will, to contact me immediately as I had a contact for help through the agency that had successfully prevented court ordered ECT in 3 elderly women in the past few years in this state. All three elderly women were being taken to court to have ECT against their will, and of course, it was to "save" their lives. All three were still alive last I heard.
This past week I spoke to 2 professional writers ( who are working and not deisabled by ECT) and asked their opinions of using the statement made by my son in my writings on ECT, and both assured me that the statement would be interpreted as an indication that the devatating effects of shock were worse than death. On this I certainly agree. I have asked several shock surviovrs recently re that statement, and was told "that's for sure" ..and "that is true".
No, I don't feel it is a reasonable thing to do to blow the brains out of an elderly woman with a 45, but I also do not believe it is resonable to damage their brains with up to 150 volts (or more)..yes, I said *volts* of electricity sent numerous times through both sides of their brains.
Over the last 15 years I've spoken to likely 200 shock survivors, and numerous realtives of persons who have had ECT (including persons whose relatives suicided after stating that the effects of the ECT or the "treatment" or "therapy" had driven them to suicide) Persons who have had "enough" shock...enough to disable them, rob them of years of precious memories, their professions, their family ties, their talents, and have been left fumbling about all day, every day, looking for things, writing notes to themselves on their hands (and then forgetting they wrote the notes)...etc.......tend to view that statement from a different light, especially a different light than those who have promoted and or adminitered this treatment.
Within the last 3 or 4 hours I happened to see a TV show...a couple from Chicago had accompanied a group of young people to Poland, visiting the sties of former camps for the Jews. The woman stated examples of people who "blew their brains out"...rather than face what was ahead. The reactions of the large group of young people were not "That was not reasonable/rational" etc etc. Of course, I doubt any of those young people were health care providers or professions, so perhaps they did not see the statement in the proper perspective.
Thank you Juli for attempting to clarify what I stated in that post. You do not need to explain to me that you feel being violently raped is something you would want again for yourself or anyone else. I understand what you are attempting to convey. (Least it be interprested that you are reccomending rape as an alternative to ECT!)
I have spoken at length, in the past, to a woman who was raped by 2 men at knifepoint. She had ECT a year later. She too stated that the effects of the ECT were far more traumatic than the rape, and if she no choice but to have a "repeat" of one the two, she'd pick the rape by knife point.
ECT rapes the mind, body and spirit...the very core, the soul of the person. It is a violation, and often a mutilation, of what God created, in the truest sense of the word.
Barb & Juli,
Thanks for your postings, sharing your experiences, and clarification of Granni-cide :). That ECT is implicated in your pain causes me to re-think some things. I've never had a vested interest in ECT as a treatment and would not choose it for myself. I cannot dismiss the people who have benefitted by it any more than I can dismiss your painful experiences.
And one last clarification:I would not ever censor a child's feeling to suit my comfort.My remarks concerned the act of killing another person. I understand your point. Chilling, nonetheless.
There you go again.... THE DATA DOES SUPPORT THE FACT THAT ECT KILLS. KILLS AT SUCH A FREQUENCY AS TO INVALIDATE IT AS A VIABLE TREATMENT... I REFER YOU ONCE MORE TO THE LATEST BENBOW STUDY. YOU PEOPLE (SHOCK SUPPORTERS) SUFFER FROM SELECTIVE BLINDNESS WHEN REVIEWING THE LITERATURE.
Of course I and others on this board have the dubious ''advantage'' of KNOWING just how it wrecks lives. If we can arrange it, will you have 10 ''treatments'' to prove your faith in the process?
Incidently, I hope you have now sorted your own ''confused'' state of mind and reassured yourself that that the figures I gave previously are in fact correct...? That 25% of shrinks in that survey had wittnessed shock kill or cause serious medical consequences?
As a shock survivor, former teacher and RN who is disabled by the verified damage that ECT did to my brain during out pt ECT in 1983, I can tell you that "informed consent" for ECT doesn't exist (by law) except for the state of Texas. Texas requires that persons undergoing ECT be informed of the possiblity of permanent memory loss and brain damage, development of spontaneous seizures (i.e epilepsy). The consent is required before each treatment.
I've spoken with likely over 200 shock sruvivors over the last 15 years, and whether they had ECT in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's, none were informed of the possibility or more accurately the probability, of permanent memory loss and cognitive impairments and on going daily short term memory problems they could/or likely would acquire during their "therapy."
Though Cecil Adams article/answer of March 19 seemed to convey that the intent of ECT in its early days was the production of a seizure, early shock experts were quite open in stating that the "aim" of ECT was to produce brain damage.
In 1941 prominent US psychiatrist Walter Freeman stated:
"All of the above-mentioned methods (i.e. various forms of shock and drug treatments are damaging to the brain, but for the most part, the damage is either slight or temporary. The apparanet paradox develops, however, that the greater the damamge, the more likely the remission of psychotic symptoms...It has been said that if we don't think correctly, it is because we haven't "brains enough." Maybe it will be shown that a mentally ill patient can think more clearly and more consturctively with less brain in actual operation."
In 1948 US psychiatrist Paul Hock stated "This brings us for a mement to a discussion of the brain damage produced by electroshock...Is a certain amount of brain damage not necessary in this type of treatment? Frontal lobotomy indicates that improvement takes place by a definite damage of certain parts of the brain."
When shock treatment was introduced (1938) and during its first big era of popularity (the 1940's) many prominant psychiatrists openly admitted it "worked" by damaging the brain. Euphoria is a known side effect of some types of brain injury.
Nor is the idea that a grand mal seizure is somehow the goal or the method of lifting depression. In the 1990's shock doctor authorities are open about stating that current administered is suprthreshold, generally two and half to 3 times the amount needed to induce a grand mal seizure.
My records show between 120 and 150 *volts* of current applied to both sides of my brain.
Some persons say that now shock is "all different"...it isn't like it used to be." By that they mean not like Jack in One Flew Over... By the mid to late 1950's muscle relaxants ( anectane, a form of curarae) and short acting general anesthetics (like Brevitol) were already being widely used, and were pretty "standard" by the 1960's.
This made ECT less unpleasant to watch. It it no way changed the amount of damage being done to the brain by the electricity passing through the frontal and temporal lobes. For some reason, it seems "OK" if they do this to the patient when they are "asleep"...as if the "worst part" was the treatment itself. Traumatic as ECT was without general anesthetic, I assure you, the procedure itself was not as truamatic as the resultant , generally permanent memory and cognitive impairments the person is faced with often for the rest of his life.
>>>This made ECT less unpleasant to watch. It it no way changed the amount of damage being done to the brain by the electricity passing through the frontal and temporal lobes. For some reason, it seems "OK" if they do this
to the patient when they are "asleep"...as if the "worst part" was the treatment itself. Traumatic as ECT was without general anesthetic, I assure you, the procedure itself was not as truamatic as the resultant , generally permanent memory and cognitive impairments the person is faced with often for the rest of his life.<<<
One of the things that aggravates me greatly is the fact that when arguing that ECT is safe, people start pulling out quotes from publicity brochures.
"Today's ECT isn't like the ECT of Cuckoo's Nest."
"They use less electricity."
"It's very precise"
The problem is that those brochures and films (which are the very aids used in providing "informed" consent) contain blatant lies. They've been repeated for so many years that now these lies are fact and nobody bothers to check original data to confirm anything.
Barb, you're absolutely right...today's ECT is kinder and gentler ONLY because it's sanitized for viewing. It's a lot easier to watch a patient's toes wiggle than a patient who is flopping around on a table breaking bones.
Many people seem to believe that means that very little is going on within the body because only a toe is wiggling. That body would still be flippping around, but is paralyzed. The effects on the brain are no different.
And this crock about less electricity? In the olden days they used perhaps one-tenth of a second of juice.
Today, the average is two full seconds. And Richard Abrams recommends five seconds in many cases. But of course that's not in the brochure...that's only in the book that is intended only for ECT practitioners.
And believe me, shock docs just out and out lie about it when pressed...Charles Kellner, one of the leading shock docs, was caught on tape in this very lie. (see the Hall of Shame at www.ect.org) He said it's not true that today's ECT uses 1-2 seconds!!!
Another thing that dismays me is the increasing pressure to use ECT. It's driven by money, and psychiatrists are truly feeling the effects of managed care. Incomes are being cut, and they are scrambling for ways to maintain the lifestyles they have.
Psychiatric Times recommended one way to boost income was take a week-long course in ECT and add that to your practice. They said that a doctor could double his income.
If that doesn't lead to $$$-driven ECT, I don't know what does.
To Cecil, Llama Boy, all you out there who seem to be enarmoured of ECT.It has taken me days to print out and read your posts. It takes me that long to read anything since ECT. ABithell was right, the bits you want to pick up on are only the ones that suit your arguments. Well unfortunately, I don't have that choice. These days I can't quote figures and details, all I can do is tell you what I am like since ECT.
I gave my consent, believed what the Doctor told me. Almost word for word the same as you often quote. The usual LIES that we are told, about, no damage, no lasting side effects. Happy Days will be here again.
Well let me tell you, it sure does do damage and the effect are permenant.
I had my sessions of ECT in 1994 - 95.
I had been a taxi driver for more than 20 years, knew the city like the back of my hand, after the third, fourth, fifth session. I can't remember which now, anyway I was driving to an appointment and all of a sudden I knew where I was and where I wanted to be, but not how to get there. From there it my life went down hill like a rocket.
I had been an independant, working woman, who in my spare time wrote poetry, short tories, read books. enjoyed a full social life.
Now I have the cognative ability of a six year old. This is verified by medical tests done since 1995. I can't read properly, I can only write using a computer because I can't hold a pen any more. Also it can correct my many spelling mistakes. I can start to write a word or a sentence and forget what I was going to write. I have to have a Guardian to manage my bank account because I look at figures and they mean nothing to me. Not even to do simple adding up.
Last month the gas boiler went out. I lit a match and stuck my hand with the match in it it inside the boiler to try to relight it.. Even my 9 year old Grandson would have had the ability to know that was dangerous. I didn't, it nearly took the ends of my fingers off.
I can't cook, I forget I have pans on the stove or food in the oven. Only last week I went to do some toast, forgot I'd lit the gas. Sometime later when my carer checked in on me the downstairs was thick with black smoke. If he hadn't come I could have burnt myself to death.
I've crashed my computer more times than I've had hot dinners because I forget which is the right button or instruction to click.
I can't fill forms in, the questions confuse me if I have to write an answer instead of tick a yes or no.
Am I boring you yet?
Do you know the worst part? I am intelligent I understand exactly what has and is happening to me. Can you even imagin the frustration this causes. When I want to do something that before ECT I would have done automatically. Now I can't remember what to do, never mind how to it.
I can't tell left from right, it takes me minutes to work out that I write with my right hand, so that way or side must be right.
You carry on quoting your facts and figures, but think on this...
Never mind how many people like Barb and ABithell and all the many other people who try to convince you ECT is BAD. If we deter one person from having ECT we will have helped someone not to end up as we are. What about the many you help to decide to "risk" it. Through your inabillity to see what's hitting you the face, you could be condeming someone to end up as I am. ECT is not a therapy or a help. It is a thing which belongs in the age of the Inquisition, It's barbaric and as a friend of mine says "A rape of the soul." Don't any of you have a concience.
It's all well and good advocating something you've not even tried... not risked.
I don't know how long it's taken you to read my post or even if your still reading it, but if you are, it might interest you to know it's taken me over five hours to put these words together and write.
I personally will never give up the fight to see ECT abolished. I didn't learn about ECT and it's effects from books, surveys or quotes. My knowledge comes from living with the damage of ECT.
I hope you never have to live this way. Although I sometimes think you deserve to when I read the rubbish you write about a subject you've only read about or even helped administer.
Some years back I read that people who had had head trauma (such as from an auto accident) had a higher incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Someone made a connection to ECT and wondered if people who had brain damage from ECT were also more likely to get Alzheimer's disease. I wonder about this because my mother, who had ECT, developed A's disease twenty years later, and died from it about ten after that.The onset of A's disease is so gradual, you can't really tell when someone starts to get it. Does anyone know any research about this?
My mother had ECT in the early 60's. I knew she was going to a mental institution but I thought they would be talking to her, you know, psychotherapy. Found out only later they gave her I-don't-know-how-many ECTs. When she got back home, she didn't know me. She had to re-learn everything, including how to cook. I wasn't very sympathetic, I'm afraid. She had been a difficult person before ECT, and I still had some resentments. She wasn't any less difficult afterwards, just more wary. "I'd better behave or they'll do that to me!" Now that I know more about ECT, I am horrified about what they did to her. Talk about informed consent: nobody, even my father and brother who signed for treatment, were "informed" about what ECT could really do.
As with Chris, this is now my 4th or 5th try at writing an answer to a post, and I began this task 4 and half hours ago...each time, trying to "get to the point" and then trying again and again because I get off the track. This is my last shot, on this one.
Holy Moses! You mean this is *for real* a one *week* course on ECT? I'm really impressed!!! And here I thought that the standards for ECT were the same as years ago!
Who says that efforts aren't being made to improve "standards"?????
I have before me here a flyer from 1991 for a one *day* certificate course in ECT.
"This how-to-do-it course teaches the skills for giving ECT accoring to the APA's new "Reccomendations for Treatment, Training and Privileging."
"Following didactic sessions in the morning and early afternoon....including a 45 minute Q&A period with a panel of course faculty..course attendees assemble into small preceptor-led afternoon groups for hands on demonstration of a reccomended treatment sequence, using patient mannequins and the latest ECT devices."
Yes, they practice on a mannequin, take the test and golly gee...since Abrams flyer on his Thymatron states "ECT WITHOUT MEMORY LOSS" and since it is just so safe, howz come the docs just don't use themselves for the "practicum" and "hands on demonstration" (Oops...there I go again, now just *why* would the psychiatrists do this to themselves? They assuredly aren't mentally ill...sorry, ...I *forgot*...)
"Upon completing the course and passing a written examiniation, each registrant will receive a certificate documenting that he has completed the course and demonstrated knowledge of the use and procedures of electroconvulsive therapyy. In addition, all attendees earn 9 hours of category 1 CME credit."
I wondered about that ..the 9 hours of CME credit, and finally figured out, if they count an hour of CME credit for each hour of the "The Technique of ECT", then seems they are giving them CME credit for the half hour coffee and pastry buffet, the 45 minute sit down (yes, sit down) luncheon and the half hour of "refreshments" in the afternoon. Fantastic way to earn CME credit..by eating .
Course was offered by none other than....Dr Richard Abrams, who holds the patent on, manufactures and sells direct the Thymatron, that wondrous machine where the doctor simply sets the dial to the patinet'ss *age* and it automatically delivers the right ammount of current (Amazing , huh,??) Abrams was also (for years) an expert witness coming against persons trying to sue for ECT damages,
I had many other comments Juli, to your last post, and decided it best to not make this post 10,000 words.I spent the previous 5 hours going over and over and trying to "get to the point"...this is my "best shot"...
Theres' a bumper sticker that says "Of all the things I ever lost, I miss my mind the most." To that I say there is a distict difference between losing something, and having it taken.
From what I know about A's Disease, they used to say the only way to truly diagnose it was on autopsy, when they found tangling substances in the brain.
RE the relationship between Alzsheimers and head injury I've certainly heard.
I was diagnosed as "dementia" "Organic Brain Syndrome" at age 41, less than a year after I had 13 out pt ECT. Less than a year prior to the ECT I had graduated with honors as an RN at age 40.
You may want to read "ECT As A Head Injury" at www.ect.org. You will also find much info, at http://members.aol.com/wmacdo4301
We tend to think of someone with Alzheimers as being confused, getting lost, starting fires when trying to cook, not recognizing people they'd known well for many years, and not knowning how to perform simple tasks that they prior could do without thinking, being overly emotional, easily upset when they cant remember things etc, and seeming to have a "very good memory" of things that happened long long ago but sparse memory of mroe recent events in time. All these symptoms are indicative of damage to the brain, particularly the frontal and temporal lobes. All these symptoms I experienced and continue to experience, due to ECT. Same goes for many many shock survivors.
With ECT persons are told "it will all come back...in a few weeks...in a few months...(though they were first told it wouldnt happen at all)...and when it doesnt come back, they are told these are simply symtpoms of depression.
Your mother did learn what could happen if she made too many "waves"...so do most shock survivors, as far as going back and trying to tell the doctors about their damages due to shock.
Is the damage from ECT progressive? Yes, in many cases it is...it gets worse as time goes on. This also happens with certain head injuries. The stress of attempting to "operate" on an impaired brain takes it's toll.
Doctors arent likely to acknowledge anytime soon that ECT leads to "Alzsheimers".
A few months ago when a friend was hospitalized with bleeding into the brain (a stroke) a doctor came into the room and asked if she had ever had seizrues. Later I told the doctor "She had ECT years ago" and he said "That wasnt what he meant". I responded.."Oh, if a doctor gives them (seizures) to you, then it doesnt count?" He had no response, but a rather quizacle look on his face. I didnt push it further by saying that the bleeding into the brain happend to be at the exact location of placement of one of the electrodes in ECT, because, I'm sure that was puerly "co-incidental".
The seizures given with ECT are not the same as a spontaneuous grand mal seizure. Even in the 1990's docotors acknowledge they use commonly, 2 and half to 3 times the amt of current needed to invoke a grandmal. If the sizure were the "goal" of the "therapy" this would not be necessary.
I had a fracture of a thorasic vertebra and athe jaw during my "new and improved" ECT in 1983. I know a woman who had such a fracture with shock in the 90's and a man who had a vertebral fracture in the 1980's. During the 1940's such fractures were common...not maybe 1% as the original article quoted...more like 20 to 40%.
How many people have you heard of who fractuered a vertebra during a spontaneous grand mal seizure? Then why would it happen during ECT?
ECT is an electrically induced brain injury. Some persons have less damage, but generally, (not always) the less ECT one has, the less damage one has. "Bilateral" seems to cause more damage than "Unilateral"..and that seems understandable to me.
The old shock certainly wasnt less damaging than the new shock, or vice versa.
When God said "Let there be light", I sincerely doubt he meant 150 volts through both sides of the brain.
Believe it or not, this is a fact, ECT is prescribed for the depression of A'ls Disease, and for persons who are depressed following a stroke and or traumatic brain injury from car accidents etc.
Chris' post describes not just an "occasional bad day"...but rather how it is all day, every day for those of us attempting to live with the effects of ECT. For me, it is now nearly 16 years.
>>>I have before me here a flyer from 1991 for a one *day* certificate course in ECT.
"This how-to-do-it course teaches the skills for giving ECT accoring to the APA's new "Reccomendations for Treatment, Training and Privileging." "Following didactic sessions in the morning and early afternoon....including a
45 minute Q&A period with a panel of course faculty..course attendees assemble into small preceptor-led afternoon groups for hands on
demonstration of a reccomended treatment sequence, using patient mannequins and the latest ECT devices."<<<
Good lord. The sad thing is that patients don't have a clue that the majority of docs are out performing ECT after a day's review plus donuts.
I'm sure that had Psych Times had the brochure in front of them while writing that article, they would have promoted it: Take a one-day course, DOUBLE YOUR INCOME. Includes donuts!!!
The whole article was written for psychiatrists who are facing financial hard times due to managed care. I don't begrudge anyone trying to make a living, whether it's 20,000 a year or 2 million a year. I *do* condemn learning a "technique" for no other reason than to double your income. Financial pressure leads to these doctors pushing for something that is going to make them money.
They'll talk all nice nice about how you need ECT, how it will help your depression and all that nasty stuff you heard about it is lies. The bottom line for them is $$$. There's money to be made in ECT, from every side.
Even Abrams promotes his Thymatron every chance he gets. In his book (Electroconvulsive Therapy, Oxford University Press), considered the bible for shock docs, he very cleverly promotes it over other shock machines by continually talking about features that you need. Of course the Thymatron is the only machine with these great features.
His journal articles do the same, although sometimes he actually mentions the Thymatron by name. Never do the journals mention that he owns the company.
What other field in medicine tolerates this? If the world's leading infectious disease specialist continually promoted Zithromax as the one antibiotic over any others, wouldn't collegues become a little suspicious when it turned out he owned Pfizer?
To my knowledge, the only time it's ever come up was when a journal article promoted Somatics' (Abrams' company) mouth guard, which was horribly expensive. A doctor wrote in to say you could use a sports mouth guard from a sports store for much cheaper. Of course Abrams hit the roof.
ECT is his gravy train, and IMO, it's the gravy train of the future for psychiatrists. Insurance and Medicare pay 100 percent.
It's going to be revolting to watch the ECT rates go up over the years, but it's going to happen.
To Llamafresh --- with reference to your statement about the Devanand Report about ECT and brain structure, I too have that Report. It is called "Does ECT Alter Brain Structure" and it a review of the literature not a sample of clients. Also, there were six authors of that report; one of whom "Harold A. Sackeim" has admitted publicly in the Washington Post (September 1996) that his research is partly funded by the shock-machine companies MECTA and Somatics. Below are a list of papers that state that it does do harm to the brain and does cause death. It all depends on who is doing the research -- doctors who have a financial interest in ECT usually find that it is safe and effective while those without a financial interest usually find that it dangerous, it depends on who you want to believe. Anyway, here is the list:
Marcheselli, et al 'Sustained induction of prostaglandin endoperoxidase synthase-2 by seizures in hippocampus' J Biol Chem 1996; 271: pages 24794-24799
This study showed that ECT causes an increase in the production of inflammatory proteins in brain cells.
Coffey, et al, 'Brain Anatomic Effects of ECT' Arch Gen Psych 1991; 48: pages 1013-1021
This study, conducted at Durham VA Hospital and Duke University Medical Center, looked at the MRI brain scans of 35 patients before and after receiving ECT. The study, conducted by C. Edward Coffey MD (a leading advocate of ECT), showed that 8 of the 35 patients (22%) were showing NEW brain changes after receiving ECT. One of those showing the brain changes suffered a stroke and two were showing abnormal neurological signs within six months of receiving ECT.
Andreasen, et al 'MRI of the Brain in Schizophrenia' Arch Gen Psych 1990; 47: pages 35-41
Andreasen used MRI scans to demonstrate a strong correlation between the number of previous ECT treatments to enlarged ventricles (loss of brain tissue).
Figiel, Coffey, et al 'Brain MRI findings in ECT-induced delirium' J of Neuropsych and Clin Sci 1990; 2: pages 53-58
ECT-enthusiast Dr. Coffey and his associate Dr. Figiel found that 10 out of 87 (that's 11% of) elderly patients getting ECT for depression remained delirious between ECT sessions for no discernible medical reason other than the ECT itself. The scans showed that 90% of these patients had lesions in the basal ganglia areas of the brain, and 90% also had white matter lesions.
Dolan, RJ, et al 'The cerebral appearance in depressed subjects' Psychol Med 1986; 16: pages 775-779
An English study which compared the brain CT scans of 101 depressed patients who had received ECT with the scans of 52 normal volunteers. The study found a significant relationship between ECT treatment and brain atrophy -- ECT patients were twice as likely to have a measurable loss of brain tissue at the front and three times as likely to have a loss of brain tissue at the back of the brain. The study also showed that the brain abnormalities correlated only with ECT, and not with age, gender, severity of illness, previous history, etc.
Calloway, et al, 'ECT and cerebral atrophy: a CT study' Acta Psych Scand 1981; 64: pages 442-445
A CT brain scan study which showed that frontal lobe atrophy (brain shrinkage) was significantly more common in those who had received ECT.
Weinberger, et al, 'Structural abnormalities in the cerebral cortex of chronic schizophrenic patients' Arch Gen Psych 1979; 36: pages 935-939
Weinberger looked at the effects of ECT on the brains of schizophrenics by comparing brain CT scans of those who had ECT with schizophrenics who never received shock. He documented that cerebral atrophy (brain shrinkage) was significantly more common in those who had been shocked.
Cotman, et al 'Electroshock effects on brain protein synthesis' Science 1971; 178: pages 454-456
This report showed that ECT disrupts (protective) protein production by brain cells.
Don Gilbert, Commissioner, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, 1996
Recording of ECT deaths within 14 days of receiving ECT is mandatory in the state of Texas. 21 deaths were reported in the first 3 years of mandatory recording: 11 from heart attacks and strokes, six suicides, and 3 from respiratory problems.
O'Leary, D.A. & Lee, A.S., 'Seven Year Prognosis in Depression: Mortality and Readmission Risk in the Nottingham ECT Cohort' British Journal of Psychiatry 1996; 169: pages 423-429
This British study recorded the mortality and readmission rates of 118 ECT patients over a period of seven years. The results showed that the mortality rate amongst ECT was between two and four times the normal mortality rate, depending on age group. The report concluded that ECT patients had a higher long-term mortality rate and the readmission risk was also increased.
1993 Kroessler and Fogel, 'Electroconvulsive Therapy for Major Depression in the Old' Am J of Geriatric Psychiatry 1993; 1:1: pages 30-37
The survival rate of 65 elderly depressed patients was monitored by researchers at Brown University. The survival rates of those who had received ECT were 73%, 54.1% and 51.4% after 1, 2 and 3 years respectively. By contrast, the survival rates among depressed patients who had not received ECT were 96.4%, 90.5% and 75% after 1, 2 and 3 years.
1984 Babigian, H., et al 'Epidemiologic Considerations in ECT' Arch Gen Psych 1984; 41: pages 246-253
This large retrospective study (3,288 patients) showed that ECT patients had an increased death rate from all causes.
There are many more studies but I hope this at least proves that it is not just the patients who have found that ECT does harm. A lot of doctors have found the same thing.
A few comments on recent posts:
1. I am not an "advocate" of ECT. Neither for that matter am I an advocate of coronary bypass surgery or for that matter, tonsillectomy. I am, however, an advocate of maintaining the availability of informed treatment options.
2. Correlation is not causation -- i.e. just because a death is reported some time after ECT treatment does not mean that ECT caused that death. To make that kind of statement, you'd need to compare ECT-treated patients to a group of similar age, sex, psychiatric diagnosis and general health. By way of example, the death rate among people who take low doses of aspirin each day is higher than average. This is not because aspirin is a health hazard but, because people who take an aspirin a day (as prescribed by their cardiologist) are likely to suffer from coronary artery disease - The *disease* is what increases the death rate, not the aspirin.
Similarly, ECT is prescribed for severely depressed people -- the death rate from depression is much higher than average. Unless you compare the post-ECT death rates of similar groups of people (similar level of depression, age, health etc.) you can't determine whether a higher-than-average death rate is due to ECT or the depression or even the physical health of the patients. The reports that have controlled for those factors do not find that ECT produces death. The reports mentioned by Willie and others do not appear to have controlled for those factors.
3. Several people have argued that pro- or neutral reports on ECT are based on conflict of interest. ECT is one of the least profitable treatments for depression compared to drug therapy or psychotherapy. A much stronger conflict of interest argument can be made for some proponents of drug therapies such as the serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I'm quite sure that the pharmaceutical industry would profit greatly by demonstrating that Prozac or Paxil were both safer AND more effective than ECT. However, no such reports have appeared.
4. Having said this, I completely agree with those who criticize witholding or minimizing information required to make an informed decision. That is why I recommend not only providing an accurate summary of the risks such as memory loss but, also that patients or their families seek at least one (preferably more) additional psychiatric/psychological opinions before proceeding with ANY treatment - including ECT.
That is why I recommend not only providing an accurate summary of the risks such as memory loss but, also that patients or their families seek at least one preferably more) additional psychiatric/psychological opinions before proceeding with ANY treatment - including ECT.
You're missing the point: ECT is not a therapy. I don't care what you call it, I don't care if it is sanctioned by psychiatric tradition of 50 or 250 years. It is criminal fraud right now, and even if they are still doing it in 250 years it will not be sanctified by even that amount of time.
>>Several people have argued that pro- or neutral reports on ECT are based on conflict of interest. ECT is one of the least profitable treatments for depression compared to drug therapy or psychotherapy.<<
Not for the psychiatrist. What does a psychiatrist get, financially speaking, from drug therapy? $100-$150 bucks every six weeks to see a patient for ten minutes and write prescriptions.
How many psychiatrists do psychotherapy? Very few...insurance isn't paying for that much these days, at least not in full.
Insurance (and Medicare and Medicaid) DOES pay in full for ECT. They pay the hospital bill, full doctor bills, etc. Plus, when a person is hospitalized for two-three weeks, a visit a day for two minutes, but charged off at 15 can really add to the coffers.
Not to mention.... the psychiatrist's fee of a few hundred dollars for the actual ECT treatment, times 8 to 12 average treatments per patient? That isn't financially appealing???
That sure as hell beats the 100 dollars the doc might make on the same patient for one visit in that same time period for a prescription.
Compare thousands versus one hundred and figure it out....and times that by the number of patients a doctor has undergoing ECT.
If there's no huge profit in it, then why does Psychiatric Times recommend psychiatrists learn ECT to DOUBLE THEIR INCOME???
Even if a doctor only charged $100 per treatment (I don't know of any who charge that small of an amount, but just for sake of argument)....plus a visit three times a week (say 100 bucks a pop, which is low). In two weeks, on one patient (say treatment 4 times a week, which is average) he's made $1,400. No insurance hassles, pure money. Not even any overhead for his office staff.
And that's a very lowball figure....
>>> A much
stronger conflict of interest argument can be made for some proponents of drug therapies such as the serotonin reuptake inhibitors.<<<
How many psychiatrists own pharmaceutical companies?
When it's come out that HMOs owned part of the company that makes Effexor and were making their doctors push that drug, shit hit the fan....CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
>>>I'm quite sure that the pharmaceutical industry would profit greatly by demonstrating that Prozac or Paxil were both safer AND more effective than ECT. However, no such reports have appeared.<<<
When you talk about the effectiveness of ECT, you keep forgetting to mention that it's very temporary...usually just a few weeks. By the time the person gets out of hospital and recovers from the assault, it's time to go back in for more!!!
I co-coordinate Support Coalition, an alliance of 70 grassroots groups working for human rights of people diagnosed with a mental disorder. A lot of our key leaders -- and board members -- experienced human rights violations during electroshock.
We're the group that got the federal goverment to issue a report (too small, lacked teeth) on this subject... but at least that report acknowledged the FORCED electroshock -- even illegal forced electroshock -- is occasionally done in the USA! And it acknowledged our concerns about the high rate of memory problems, the horribly flawed informed consent process, the lack of alternatives being offered, etc.
Here's a few facts about electroshock:
* The 1985 National Institutes of Health Consensus Report on electroshock made sure to talk about the high frequency of persistent memory problems that individuals attributed to shock. Rule of thumb: A study was cited that MORE THAN HALF of people complain of subjective memory problems they attribute to shock MORE THAN THREE YEARS LATER. Get that? More than half, more than three years later.
* In my 23 years of work as a human rights advocate, NO informed consent sheet I have ever seen EVER tells ANYONE about the above NIH-cited number!
* Instead, such as Sacred Heart and State of Oregon here in my home state, shock facilities tell people that only about one in 200 people report serious memory problems after shock.
Where did they get that 1 in 200 number? The Washington Post did an expose about electroshock, and looked into it. Turns out it came from individuals with DIRECT financial ties to the electroshock manufacturing, and they admit that "1 in 200" number is anecdotal and "impressionistic" with NO DATA to back it up.
You see, the Food & Drug Admninistration (which many people might think of as The Big Bad Government) actually has done ZERO about investigating and oversight of electroshock. That's right, they poke their nose into everything else, but when it comes to the four U.S. manufacturers of devices that can cause you -- in some instances -- permananent memory problems... the FDA has washed its hands. It's the Wild Wild West. There's NO regulation buddy, none. Shock is still a "Class III" device, which technically is hazardous; the FDA has never done the LEGALLY REQUIRED investigation of safety and efficacy of these devices. We're back in "The Jungle" that was portrayed in the book by that name (back in Chicago's Stockyards, a story that helped provoke creating an FDA). Get it? This is TOTALLY PRIVATIZED. The shock doctors and shock manufacturers run the whole show -- the regulation, the investigation, the studies, the informed consent, EVERYTHING. And if you think self interest does NOT influence those men runninng around in white coats, then perhaps YOU have a white coat in the closet, my dear reader!
Anyway, several neurologists and psychiatrists hypothesize that how shock "works" is similar to the well-known phenominon following a head injury or stroke. There is often a personality change following a brain trauama, that includes a syndrome of denial of problems, amnesia and sometimes even giddiness or euphoria.
But the best studies available, and there are very few, at best show any "lift" from shock is shortlived, about four weeks. That's why there's an enormous relapse after shock. That's why there is no OUTPATIENT MAINTENANCE ELECTROSHOCK, every month, for many people... to juice them up for that fading head injury high each month.
There's a lot of evidence for the "head injury high" theory of shock. One is that the actual "joules" -- the electrical energy given during shock -- is now actually far higher than the shock devices of old.... FAR HIGHER THAN NEEDED TO INDUCE THE "CONVULSION" that shock proponents claim is the heart of the "unknown causes of improvement" they talk about.
By the way, watch out for a brand new type of shock -- minus the shock and convulsion (gee, i thought that they NEEDED that convulsion for it to work). It's called TMS, and the NIH is already openly funding human studies.
Anyway, more information about shock, contact our organization: Support Coalition.
People can contact us for a free copy of our newsjournal DENDRON, which has a couple of pages about shock, and info about how to get books, etc. and contact organizations of shock survivors.
E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org Include your postal address.
We also e-mail out free occasional human rights alerts on this subject, ask to be put on the DENDRITE e-mail list.
Our web site has info -- click on the spinning brain that is spitting out lightning bolts on our home page:
It's part of our ZAPBACK e-mail list.
You can also phone our office:
We're in Eugene, Oregon, write us:
PO Box 11284
Eugene, OR 97440-3484
I appreciate the "straight dope" and perhaps FINALLY some information can get out to the public about the horrible human rights violations STILL going on in this field -- in fact increasing. This story was voted one of the top 25 "Censored Stories" by Sonoma's "Project Censored." Since then a few folks -- such as Norman Solomon, USA Today and Washington Post -- have done some excellent work. But there's still a LOT OF SILENCE about the hazards of shock.
Talk to us about shock... Thanks.
Stop forced psychiatry!
Forgive me if this report doesn't look as it should. I'm afraid the way my brain works since ECT isn't good but I felt it important to try and get this document onto the Straight Dope board.
This survey is not the opinion of Psychiatrists or so called Experts, it is a record of the every day kind of living (in Hell) of people who have been damaged by ECT.
No doubt there are those of you who will dispute this survey and try to pull it to bits. You'll go on quoting facts and figures from Medical Articles and variouse "Experts" that suit your argument for administering ECT but whether you lik it or not the facts this survey contains are true. Which makes it all the more chilling.
None of the people who filled in this survey are ECT Specialists or Experts, they're just ordinary people like me.
Shock-Treatment Damage Survey
ECT Anonymous have just published the results of a survey of their members on the damage done to them by ECT. The survey was carried out using a questionnaire which asked survivors about any short and long-term benefits of ECT they had experienced; any mental or physical conditions which had developed since receiving ECT; any diseases which had developed since receiving ECT and how it had affected their careers. The questionnaire was sent to 500 survivors and more than 200 responded. The results show that ECT causes even more damage than was previously thought.
© Copyright 1999 ECT Anonymous
(Very long, copyrighted article removed. Please go to the website to read it. Thank you. Jill)
Remember what was said at the beginning of this article, these facts and figures are a part of every day "living" (if it can reasonably be called that) for the recipients of ECT damage. The ECT that was going to solve all their mental problems.... I think not... Do you????
[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]
The Web address for the ECt Anon Survey results is:-
This will bring up "Going Mental. When you get to the main page click on news.
There are lots more pages of information on this web site to do with various aspects of Mental Problems, Therapy etc.
Please Note.COPYRIGHT WARNING.
The ECT Anon Survey is free to all via the web site mentioned above (The Going Mental Site) . However, copyright is reserved, no one being allowed to reproduce it for a fee or profit from it in any way without express written consent from ECT Anon, although free distribution is encouraged.
Hard copy of the original format of the report is available from ECT Anon via the email contact on the above site for $1 + postage. This covers photocopying costs.
Andy Bithell. ECT Anon. Telford Branch. UK. As authorised by Pat and Roy Butterfield at Head Office, Kiethley, Yorkshire.UK.
Very well, my apologies. I was simply trying to recoup my own costs of reproducing. Offering it for free here is a hardship I must forgo, so if anyone wants a hardcopy by mail then order it from ECT anon.
Dr. Breggin can afford to sue me for reproducing his article, which I also offered FOR THE COST OF REPRODUCING AND MAILING, and I suppose also has a right to do that, since I didn't ask his permission either, but I understand that ECT anon cannot.
However, I would think twice if I were you about discouraging anyone from distributing material that debunks the massive PR of the psychiatric industry, over details of formal permission. I'm not going to make a profit over this. I have run expensive adds, and only gotten perhaps one or no response to many of them, so am actually losing money.
Again, I will hope you who are fellow shock survivors will understand if I loose track of proper procedure at times, 22 zaps to the brain can make such things difficult, especially if you also suffering from Post-Polio Brain Fatigue and are perhaps also edging into early Alzheimers because of shock.
Offer to "sell" ECT anon material hereby retracted.
I also deleted it. Unzap and others - you also put the Straight Dope site in potential legal hot water when you reproduce copyrighted material on our site. It is also especially inadvisable to try to sell material that isn't yours. I think your hearts are in the right place, but please keep these rules in mind. Thanks.
[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]
I'm leaving. I'm sorry for the discussion getting sidetracked. Let's hear again from those who want to 'help' us by scrambling our brains. Maybe they've run out of justifications? I'd be interested to see their continued posts, but can't myself participate in this board anymore.
Some (but not all) of the respondents who criticize ECT have used dishonest rhetorical techniques to make their case. Sadly, whatever value there may have been in what they had to say was completely smothered by the manner in which they said it. If they actually had a credible and responsible argument, they could have made it in a credible and responsible manner. It's usually when the facts are against them that people resort to the sort of snide personal insults and blatant misrepresentations like those that have been directed against the likes of llamafresh and Germ Boy.
Like a few of the other respondents, I too have been given bilateral ECT treatments (11 sessions all told). And I am extremely pleased with the results! The treatments have been an astonishing and unmitigated success.
(My last session was nearly a year ago and my mood, though much improved, has been quite stable throughout, so please don't stoop to attributing my positive assessment to "euphoria and confusion".)
My depression was not particularly severe, and I certainly wasn't suicidal. However, my depression was severe enough that I wasn't able to work. I had previously tried thirteen different anti-depressant medications (as well as desperately silly things like herbal "medicine") without success before my psychiatrist brought up ECT for discussion.
My shrink certainly didn't advocate ECT, but he said he thought he would be remiss if he failed to bring it to my attention. Both of us were leery of the idea: the popular media and scare stories like those above combined to create a dark aura of recklessness and danger around the treatment. In my naiveté, I thought the idea sounded too medieval to be taken seriously.
But having no realistic alternative, I went to the library and the Internet and started researching the reality behind the Halloween mask painted by some half-informed ECT opponents. To my surprise, the more I learned, the more it looked like ECT was the obvious next approach for me to try. Before long, I wasn't merely willing, I was downright eager to subject myself to Unzap's so-called "repeated electrical closed-head injuries." (Don'tcha just love euphemisms? Not only can they make the appalling sound innocent, they can be used to make the helpful sound horrible).
I was worried about memory loss, so before the first session I wrote up a long series of Q & A's that covered both recent and older events and personal experiences. As described earlier, I was pretty much out of it for a few hours after the first jolt/seizure (this period was kind of scary). Yet when I asked my Mother to quiz me the next day from the list I drew up, I scored 100 percent! So my feeling that I suffered no noticeable memory loss or other problems is based on more than just my subjective opinion.
None of the other people I've met who've had ECT (admittedly not a scientific sample) mentioned any problems, and they certainly all seemed "normal" (considering that they were candidates for ECT at all). As for people who report terrible consequences from their ECT treatments, who am I to say they're wrong? But I can't count the number of times ECT opponents and others have told me that I must be wrong or else that I'm a shill for the AMA, the psychiatric "lobby" (whoever they might be!), or the ECT device manufacturers. Many of them seem to think they're being clever when they assert that I've "forgotten what I've forgotten".
Personally, I've seen, heard, and read far too many people who jump at the chance to blame their misfortunes on whatever is handy and sounds vaguely plausible, like Nutrasweet or power lines. Many of the web sites listed in the responses above are thoroughly populated with folks who seem to fall into that category. If you want a more balanced view of the risks and benefits of ECT, I recommend you look elsewhere. Don't make the mistake of giving undue credence to the doomsayers.
Given Cecil's excellent history, I wasn't surprised that his column upheld a more credible and informed perspective. ECT may be risky, but I can promise you it works extremely well for some.
Infantile.Unqualified.Transparent.Suggest you do some more reading and actually have shock/and/or/get therapy from a psychologist.
Assuming you have actually had ECT, (BIG ASSUMPTION-BUT I WILL SHOW YOU MINE IF YOU WILL SHOW ME YOURS-medical records, that is.), you say you have ''lost count'' of the number of opponents who have raised this issue with you.
So why is it that sycophants in the minority get listened to by shrinks yet the multitude get ignored?
EVERYONE who actually has shock suffers from short term, usually quite severe, memory loss. If you took your head out of your shrink's ass long enough you would hear even him/her stating this universal fact. Your individual research is somewhat questionable then?
Go read the papers listed on this site and then come back. If indeed you ever had shock.
I think you should get your head examined--soon.
I had six treatments, so I'm technically not "fried," just "crisped." I can read in between the lines--just finished a paper on "close reading" which took many, many hours, but I got an outstanding interpretation in "Tess." You don't have to be a rocket scientist to read and understand the posted messages of people who have suffered permanent damages from ECT. Like many recipients of ECT, it takes several hours to comprehend what we used to take for granted. I take for granted that you didn't read the posts--probably because of the after-effects of ECT. If you had read them, you would not be taking them so personally. I am thrilled to pieces that you think ECT is wonderful, terrific, the best thing that ever happened to you in your entire life (see, I can read in between the lines--still). But you take things so personally, and can't get into reading things that offend you. I am personally offended that professionals take ECT personally (even though not one shrink will admit to receiving it---I read APA Online--that's where I get my information from about its position on shock therapy). I take abuse from shrinks who tell me how great ECT is--I'm used to it. I don't dish it out though--I don't tell shrinks and MH people that I personally think ECT should be banned anymore, because I will end up in an institution for the remainder of my natural life and shocked, shocked, shocked to the psychiatric profession's heartless content. And for you wonderful people who have actually benefitted from ECT--what can I say--want a dozen roses sent to you for standing up to tell us how brainwashed we are? Unlike you, I did not benefit from ECT, am sick of the mistake I made, but what else can be said--I made my bed and now I lie in it (just wish I can remember what possessed me to make that decision--the memory still hasn't come back over a year). At one time I thought it would be good to help people--obviously that never occurred to you, you selfish individual, telling us brain-damaged folks how cruel we are to you because you benefitted from ECT.
Have a nice day!
So why is it that sycophants in the minority get listened to by shrinks yet the multitude get ignored?
EVERYONE who actually has shock suffers from short term, usually quite severe, memory loss.If you took your head out of your shrink's ass long enough you would hear even him/her stating this universal fact.Your individual research is somewhat questionable then?
This kind of invective has no place here. We encourage vigorous debate but if you guys can't keep it civil we're going to close this thread and you can take it up in the BBQ Pit.
I'd like to know your definition of a tool? Like a wrench or a screwdriver? ECT is just like most of the drugs given out for depression: "try this one, sometimes it works". We're really not sure how or why it works or why it doesn't. Hey, let's shoot electricity through your brain, sometimes that helps. We don't know why, but since your so desperate or apathetic or gullable, you won't mind. Don't worry, we'll drug you into a stupor and strap you down before we start, so you don't flail all over and hurt yourself. Yes, there are side effects, physical, emotional, societal, but don't worry, it's paid for. Sometimes what passes for medicine, sure doen't sound very scientific to me.
A real question.
Why do those who are opposed to ECT so vehemently object to someone who apparently has had no ill-effects and even benefitted? Is there absolutely NO benefit potential from this treatment?
Can there be the possibility that the technique might help a segment of people in spite of your negative history?
Truly curious to see if anyone might be able to say, "Hmm, interesting opinion (observation), I never thought of that." An awful lot of "needing to be right" in this place.
I looked up "tool" in Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary. Here's what it says
"any implement, instrument or utensil held in the hand and used for cutting, hitting, digging, rubbing etc: knives, saws, hammers, shovels, rakes, etc are tools. Any similar insturment that is the working part of a power-driven machine, as a drill, band-saw blade etc. THe whole machine; machine tool; a means; as books are a scholar's tools. A person used by another to accomplish his purposes, especially when these are illegal or unethical; dupe; stooge."
I've spoken to many persons who had ECT. For those who signed on the dotted line, as I did, it is a decision many of us regret, deeply. *However* we were not told of the possible or probable lasting effects, but instead were told "safe, effective and no memory loss" (or with bilateral memory loss only for the period of time the treatments were administered)...If you've seen any media shows on the subject, when a doctor is asked by the interviewer "Just how much electricity is used?" The response is not "so many volts" or so many hertz or joules"...but rather "a very small amount".
My records show between 120 and 150 *volts*.
This is a massive electrical dose considering the brain's 14 volt system. This voltage (as charted was used in my ECT) was in the zone of pain/noxious-level stimulation (Robinson, A.J. Snyder-Mackler, L.S. (1995)m Clincal Electrophysiology; Electrotherapy and Electrophysiologic Testing, 2nd Edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkens , Page 291) and is far beyond the body's normal physiological range, where as little as 1/10 amps can be fatal.
2.5 to 5 times the electricity needed to produce a convulsion or grand mal seizure is used (Abrams, R, "Electroconvulsive Therapy" 1997, pages 608-612). If the seizure itself were the "goal" of ECT, there would be no need to exceed the amount of electricity needed to induce a grand mal seizure.Thus the seizure alone is not what causes the sometimes produced "high" or euphoria experienced by persons getting ECT. Sufficient intensity of "boidly discharge" is required (Sackheim et al 1993, Effects of stimulus intensity and electrode placement on the efficacy and cognitive effects of Electroconvulsive therapy, New England Journal of Medicine, 328 (12)
The need for high dosages of electricity suggests that ECT "works" by electrical injury.
Having ECT was the single worst decision of my life. If I could go back and "un-do" only one decision in my life, it would be not to have ECT. I have seen other shock survivors blame themselves for consenting to ECT....the point is, that none of us were told we could have permanant brain damage from this "treatment" We weren't told it not only could "erase" years of memory, but leave us with brain damage that makes every day a struggle, from morning till night, fumbling around not knowing what we were going to do next, trying to find things (not to be confused with occassional misplacing of keys etc)...or, as in my case, being diagnosed with EEG verified "diffuse encphalopathy" at an age of early 40's.
ECT proponents like to consider us often as complaining over minor type memory problems that everyone experiences from time to time. Or perhaps we are angry because we can't remember a particular event in our lives.
This is not the case with the majority of shock survivors who are angered, yea, enraged at what was done to them, in the name of "help" or "therapy" or "accepted medical treatment."
Your post is well taken, and, for myself at least, I don't know how I could have accepted the statements of an MD who lied to me...but I did. I'm the one who lives with the results of it, everyday for nearly 16 years.
My profession(s), college training, talents, who I was, and the mother of my children were abruptly and dramatically simply "taken". I assure you, I didnt simply automatically "accept" the brain damage, the disability and set back to a life of writing posts to ECT boards, giving speeches or wrting to legislators and media people.
Your input is well taken, Keith.
>>If you've seen any media shows on the subject, when a doctor is asked by the interviewer "Just how much electricity is used?" The response is not "so many volts" or so many hertz or joules"...but rather "a very small amount". My records show between 120 and 150 *volts*.<<
I've seen this figure of 120-150 *volts* (your emphasis) mentioned a couple of times in this thread. A number like this does not impress me without *lots* of additional information.
I live in a very dry climate (especially in winter). I have received some extremely painful static shocks after walking across my carpeted basement and touching some grounded piece of metal. IIRC, the breakdown voltage of dry air is about 10,000 volts per cm. Judging by some of the sparks I've seen coming off my finger, I've received a few 5000-10000 volt jolts to my finger with no ill effects. No, a finger is not as vital or complex as a brain, but voltage alone is insufficient information to determine danger.
So, I have a few clarifying questions, if you don't mind. Is that 120-150 volts the actual voltage across the brain, or is that total voltage drop between the ECT electrodes, with some voltage drop occuring across non-vital (from the POV of neurological function) tissue like the skin, skull, and meninges? What is the current? How much of the current actually goes through the brain tissue, and how much passes around the brain through other pathways? How does that compare to biological electrical currents (I'd guess it's large, but I honestly don't know)? Is the shock AC or DC? If AC, what frequency? You point out correctly that energy deposition (joules) into the brain might be a better measure (or it might not, who knows?). For that, you need voltage *and* current.
I'm really not trying to be cheeky, and I have no opinion either way on the ECT debate. I just hate to see numbers thrown about in an alarming way when they mean very little *on their own*. I'm not saying that your number might not *be* alarming--just not by itself.
Fighting innumeracy since the early '80's...it's taking longer than I thought (with apologies)
Hey Rick, I've just sent Barb a few facts for you. Sufficient charge, delivered at a sufficient PD and a plenty high enough frequency to kill. It causes fits, for goodness sake.By the way, the resistance of the subject's (victim's) head can vary some forty fold. Tough on those poor suckers over the years who had a low resistance skull, eh?
Tone is extremely difficult to discern in bulletin board postings, but your reply to my message sounds like I ticked you off. Please be assured, I'm not looking to increase the tension. I just want arguments to be made with useful information.
Once again, I did not deny (or affirm) that ECT may have deleterious effects. Both those who consider it an effective treatment and those who consider it ghastly torture agree that it has *some* effect (in addition to the immediate convulsive effects--hence the 'C' in ECT). I just don't care for scary-sounding numbers used out of context. In context, they may or may not actually *be* scary.
Continuing to breathe calmly,
I am, for one, very happy this debate is going on. For those of you who haven't had ECT--get it done and come back in a few months and tell me how great you feel about having had it. Germboy, my answer to your very simple question is: the shrinks who pocketed the money. The hospital that no longer performs it. The medical students and their instructors I euphorically told them something about my experience but cannot remember. Did I gain anything potential? No. Would you like me to advocate it? No. Would I ask for help again if I decide to commit suicide because of my depression? No. Do I want help? No. Would I rather use what ability I have left to discourage others from receiving ECT? Yes. Do I have anthing nice to say about ECT? No. I take care of what is left of me to try to make myself useful again, and it is not going to be wasted on advocating ECT. Do I feel sorry for people who have benefitted from ECT? No.No.No. I do not feel sorry for people who have received ECT and tell me how caring and nurturing the mental health system is either; my experience has been that it has ruined my life. Fortunately I do not tell mental health professionals how ignorant they are when they tell me my cognitive deficits are caused by depression. I do not want your sympathy either. It's not worth it.
My records from ECT in 1983 did not list on the charting "AC" or "DC" or amps. The records did list voltage and in one of the treatmentsI believe, joules. I learned after the shock some years later that their "new machine" was out for repairs for at least part of the 13 ECT's I recieved out pt....and they were using the "old machine"...how "old" I don't know. The older machines, I'm told used direct wall current.
Further, I was unconscious during the procedure and have no memory to go by. EEG's verify brain damage.
Richard Abrams, who has in the past been on the APA Task Force on ECT has stated that the hippocampus is a direct hit of ECT. The hippocampus is not on the exterior of the brain, cut rather deep within the brain.
I have had college physics, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, and was an honor's graduate, however, I couldn't begin to tell you the first thing about any of those courses, nor could I do so back in 1983 after the ECT, though I had graduated the year prior. This is just some of what was 'erased" by ECT.
I do have info here, research articles, books, that I could refer you to, if you like. The materials are here, and finding them might take me a while, but I will forward titles to you as I locate, if this is what you want.
Since the ECT my visual memory is practically non-existant...as is my ability to organize anything. I would therefore encourage others who have done research on this subject to post re the particulars and the physics/electric particulars.
I will attempt to locate some articles and facts for you with sources, but I can't guarantee when I will find same...though the materials is here.
I can tell you that numerous EEG's verify the damage to my brain. One EEG even noted circumscribed areas of hyperirritability on both temporal lobes. "circumscribed', indicating areas of circles...the shape of the electrodes. Generalized slowing, Worst damage is in the direct path of the elctrical current in the frontal and temporal lobes.
I have asked a couple of persons who are more knowledgeable in the area of electricity / electrical engineering to please post a reponse. Anyone out there with this material handy, please help.
You might consider contacting the FDA to see what there documents say about these machines re the safety standards and inspections required on shock devices...see for yourself, there are no required inspections or safety standards, unless this is something that has occurred in the last couple of years and without my knowledge.
The main requirement for "safety" is that the plug that goes into the wall is underwirter's lab approved...same as the plug on your coffee pot, toaster, microwave.
I know an electrical engineer, but he moved this last winter, and I'm having difficulty tracking down his new phobne number. Should I be able to contact him, and have him go over the particulars, perhaps he will post.
I would answer your question if I could, but without finding the papers, I'm not able to do so.
IF I luck out and locate these documents, I will post again re this matter, but the info may come in bits and pieces
I forgot to include this info, which was sent to me. This is for the Mecta SRI/JR1
"The above machine can be set (male bilateral) to deliver a charge of 576 times 10 to the minus 3 C. That is at a pd (voltage) of 150 volts."
"It can thus deliver a total of 86.4 Joules of energy. That is via a brief pulse bi-phasic (AC) wave form at a frequency of 90Hz."
I am no longer mentally or intellectually capable of discussing the above facts and figures with a scientist. Likely, I once was.
Just as I am no longer capapble or playing Chopin, Mozart or Brahms...
I didnt "lose" my musical abilities either, they were abruptly taken without my permission.
[[Once again, I did not deny (or affirm) that ECT may have deleterious effects. ]] RickG
You are suggesting that it's possible that ECT may not have any deletrious effects?
Sue, I appreciate and respect your point of view. I admit that my remark that some people will blame their problems on just about anything was totally inappropriate (although I was certainly not referring to you). I apologize.
But why do you call me selfish? Please tell me exactly how it hurts you for me to tell the truth that I was dramatically helped by ECT. I certainly never blindly advocated it for others, nor did I deny that there is evidence that it can at times be extremely harmful. And I certainly would never even consider asking you or anyone else to advocate ECT.
You talk about "reading between the lines". May I respectfully suggest that you're reading too much there? You complained that I was "telling [you] brain-damaged folks how cruel we are to you because you benefitted from ECT." Where on earth did you get that from?
I merely pointed out that people who report horrible results from ECT are instantly and totally believed but those of us who've had good results are often assailed by an "ABithell"-style regimen of knee-jerk denials, vituperation, and vicious personal attacks. Is that fair?
Not one person in this thread has claimed that ECT is a panacea, that it is totally effective in all cases and is utterly without serious risk. No one has argued that there have been no horrible consequences resulting from ECT. On the other hand, some posters have stated or at least suggested that ECT is useless and always causes serious injury. I'm here to say that this is FALSE. And I know this from first-hand direct experience.
Sue, you suggest people "get it done and come back in a few months and tell me how great you feel about having had it." Well, Sue, I've had it and I feel great! I'm honestly very sorry things didn't work out for you, though.
My success might conceivably have been a one-time (or rather, an eleven-time) fluke. But I seriously doubt it. No one seemed to think my case was unusual, and no one solicited me for participation in a study or anything. Considering that I was a candidate for ECT at all, everything about it seemed routine.
All I claim is that ECT is clearly beneficial and safe for some. I do not claim this is so for all.
Have a nice day.
''Vicious attacks'' eh? ''Knee jerk''eh?
Can't be more vicious than having shock FORCED on you, despite the assistance of a solicitor and a social worker. Yes that's right, FORCED. That's what happened to me. That's what is happening in the UK right now.
No balanced debate there buddy. You have it or we force you to have it. Risks an' all.
So identify yourself. I will send you evidence of my sufferings in exchange for proof of who you are and confirmation that you are not a member of one of the conservative mental health groups.
The only reason I don't jump down your throat is associated with the fact that you MAY be genuine. In which case you are in a minority. The good old USA is supposed to be a democracy. Democracy=freedom of speech, yes, but also=majority rule.That's why some states in your country also kills minors for murder. Only one of two countries in the world to do this. Yet this principle always fails when money is involved.
I repeat, identify yourself. If you do not then you are not worth responding to. Just like every other industry/establishment ''plant''.
There is one other possible explanation. Perhaps you were a participant in a double blind trial and you never actually got the shock? Or the machine was busted? It has happened before.
To one and all,
It seems to me that the failure to balance arguments clearly sits with ABithell and few others in the anti-ECT camp. AB in particular seems to like to demand authentication/identification of anyone who disagrees with him. In fact, he has essentially accused all who disagree with him of lying about their identity, experience or data in order to bolster a pro-ECT stance. As Lazarus pointed out, no one who has presented positive information about ECT has suggested that ECT is risk-free -- we simply assert that it can be beneficial for some people.
I completely agree that informed consent is critical - if AB was forced to undergo ECT then the fault is less with the procedure than with the use of force. Being forced to undergo ANY treatment/procedure is a violation of person and autonomy. It can be justified ONLY in cases where the individual is a real danger to self or society and the treatment has a real likelihood of reducing that risk (even if the reduction is comparatively short-lived). If that wasn't the case for AB (i.e. he wasn't a risk to himself or society and/or the treatment wasn't likely to help) then I can see why he is so angry. Likewise, even if his treatment was legally/medically justified, the fact that he perceives ECT as damaging him makes his anger understandable.
However, none of those possible explanations diminishes the fact that ECT is beneficial for some depressed patients. Why it is beneficial is no more understood than why antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy are beneficial. What is understood is that ECT has much more rapid antidepressant effects than either drugs or psychotherapy and that ECT is safer than drugs or psychotherapy for SOME (no, AB, not all) patients (e.g. suicidal patients, patients on some cardiovascular medications, patients who can't tolerate drugs).
Once again, INFORMED DECISIONS are critical to any medical/psychological treatment. If you have any questions about a treatment recommendation, research the treatment and/or get a 2nd or 3rd opinion.
My point of view, obviously, is from someone who did not benefit from ECT. We agree on that issue.
My point of view is from someone who lost abilities following ECT. We agree on that.
My point of view is from someone who may have suffered brain damage as a consequence of ECT. That has not been established medically. There has been significant personality change following ECT--reports of being "abusive"--this has never been a part of my personality prior to ECT. I know enough about neurology to understand that there may be a link between this personality change and brain damage. I know enough about from my experience with the mental health profession that there is complete reluctance to base my personality change on anything but depression. This part I cannot buy.
My experience is on the Internet. I suffered a severe brain-injury from an automobile accident, but I lost more memory from ECT than I did from the brain injury from an open-head injury. Yes, there was a personality change following the automobile accident, but nowhere near to what I am experiencing now.
I have read Dr. Sterling's reports as well as a few of Dr. Breggin's studies to know that what I did, by consenting to ECT, was not in my best interests, but now it's too late. As a former employee in the neuropathology department at Penn, I should have known that ECT causes brain damage. That is where I am coming from.
I cannot remember consenting to it, but within a year's time, I have noticed significant changes in my ability to use my mental faculties. These are not emotionally based.
I am attacked by non-medical people, as well as mental health professionals, for my belief that ECT causes brain damage. I will ardently defend people who have suffered brain damage from ECT because I know they have, based on what I have read, what I learned in the past, and knowledge I have gained in understanding that the manufacturers, distributors, and teachers (also members of the Task Force of the APA) of shock machines have continually prevented the reporting of numerous incidents of brain damage caused by ECT.
I am in no position so say that "everybody" who has received ECT is going to be brain damaged--I am disabled, thus I cannot verify this.
I cannot say that cardiologists are wrong in recommending surgery, also a risk. But the American Heart Association has a better track record of the consequences of its procedures that the American Psychiatric Association. Case in point: doctors are questioning the efficacy of balloon angioplasty. The APA, on the other hand, says, in all instances, ECT is safe and efficacious. And it is not. The APA vehemently denies that brain damage results from ECT--yet only 5 states keep any statistics on the failure of ECT. No one knows how much damage ECT causes, because no one organization is required to take account of instances of brain damage caused by ECT. We don't even have an idea of how much ECT is performed, but I'll bet the American Cancer Society has a better idea of how many deaths are caused by cancer. The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, stands on its belief that ECT does not cause brain damage.
I know you had ECT done, based on your post only, and that you benefitted from it. Did I not gush with happiness that you benefited? Yes, I will admit to drip with sarcasm at times, and it is inappropriate. Could it possibly be because I am suffering from petit mal seizures, consequential to ECT? Very possible.
It ECT is not effective all of the time, if there is a hit-and-miss probability that ECT causes brain damage and permament memory loss, why then is the APA adamant in stating that it does not? The memory loss, BTW, is not of events immediately preceding or following the administration of ECT. Many receiptients of ECT suffer permanent cognitive deficits that are permanent. Mine are. Barb's are. Why has the FDA not reclassified shock machines as Class II rather than Class III, as an unsafe machine? The answer is because the APA has repeatedly been involved in changing the classification, despite safety hazards and documents the FDA holds stating that ECT causes brain damage.
I made an error in consenting to ECT at a time when I was emotionally beat, and would have done anything to feel better. My anger surfaces when I am challenged (emotional) because I know I suffered permanent damage, i.e., memory loss and cognitive deficits, and still live with depression. Academically, I can be rational because I have to. In a debate that hits me in the face, I have to be competely focused, but I am no longer able to "focus" when it involves my CNS and emotions.
If my comments were inflammatory, they were no more inflammatory than yours.
To request proof of identity in a debate concerning such a serious subject when one's supposed identity is crucial to the credability of the argument being made, i.e. presenting as a person who has had shock but has apparently not experienced any, (not even short-term), side effects is only reasonable, especially when an opponent is offering to reciprocate.
It is not an accusation of lying. It is a request to qualify an argument.That said, failure to reply to such a query could give rise to doubts being raised concerning authenticity, admittedly.
In a similar fashion, your failure to reply to my repeated challeges concerning your ignorance re: the Benbow report raises similar questions concerning your professed knowlege in this subject area.
ECT is not given in the UK without consent only in dire circumstances. Neither scenario as described by yourself applied to me. That is why my case is going to law. Along with several hundred others.
On the contrary, my position is very balanced under the circumstaces. I do not seek a ban on the process, for example. People are free to smoke after all. Difference is: a,consumers now know the risks and b,taking aside the issue of passive smoking, people are not forced to smoke.
This is not any evidence that shock saves lives or renders third-party risk individuals any less of a risk. There are NO grounds for forcing shock on anyone.
Why am I bothering with you?
"A vast medical literature provides strong evidence that electroconvulsive therapy causes permanent brain damage, including loss of memory and catastrophic deterioration of personality...
During my 20 years as a community psychiatrist I have treated many patients who have been subjected to shock therapy. My experience as a clinician corroborates the many empirical studies that conclude that electroconvulsive therapy is abusive and inhumane, and causes irreversible physical and emotional damage."
......HUGH L. POLK (U.S. psychiatrist), letter to New York Times, August 1, 1993
Contrast: "In light of the avaialble evidence, "brain damage" need not be included (in the informed consent form for ECT) as a potential Therapy, The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy: Reccomendations for Treatment, Training, and Privileging, 3.5, 1990)
I ran across the following while reading this morning, and felt you might appreciate these statements, considering you had ECT against your will:
(quote removed - Jill)
C.S.Lewis, "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," God in the Dock, 1970
(quote removed - Jill)
Ronald Liefer (US psychiatrist, ) "In the Name of Mental Health" The Social Functions of Psychiatry, 5, 1969
[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]
I edited the following post because of length and because it was too close to advertising. It was a dilemma for me, because I tend to agree with it. But what if next time I don't? I have to be fair. For more information, follow the links in the text.
PULL THE PLUG ON ECT
ACTION ACTION ACTION
The Surgeon General is about to issue a Report on Mental Health that is
seriously flawed. One of the most serious errors in the report is the
statement that ECT (shock treatment) is safe and effective. A statement that
thousands of people who have had ECT, and many serious researchers, know to
This is one of many serious problems with this report that are a direct
result of the cancellation of the senior review that was scheduled to
include representation by leaders within the consumer/survivor community.
We have been told that the report is being rushed into print so that Tipper
Gore can use it as she tries to get her husband elected President.
This alert is also at: http://www.madnation.org/sgr.htm
For a sample letter, read one from Dr. Dan Fisher http://www.madnation.org/news/letters/sgrfisher.htm
I can't believe we need to do this.
WWW: www.madnation.org (http://www.madnation.org)
Consumers and Survivors United
Expect ACTION ALERTS from
Support Coalition International
and other individuals and organizations
today and over the weekend.
There may only be two things that
the vast majority of users of mental
health services are united on:
The Great Harm that ECT can and
often does cause is one of them.
The Horror of Involuntary Outpatient
Commitment is the Other.
We are coming together on these two issues
And we will be powerful advocates as
Consumers and Survivors United.
[Note: This message has been edited by JillGat]
10-10-1999, 08:55 PM
The government has billions of (taxpayer's) dollars to advertise for "mental health" and the so-called treatment supposed to promote it; what I do can hardly be called advertising. Trying to do a little counter-advertising would be probably the most accurate descriptor. At any rate please correct the URL to the info about the Surgeon General's report which aims to give electroshock a clean bill, even as the electroshock device remains untested by the FDA and a Class III, most hazardous device. That URL is http://www.madnation.org/sgr.htm.
What you have shortened it to, from my previous post, misses the target. Thanks.
10-10-1999, 09:16 PM
There is way too much copyrighted stuff copied onto this thread. I am going to have to edit yours, Christine, and probably a couple of others. I will leave the URLs so that people can read more about this topic if they choose. The posts are so long, the thread takes forever to load, too.
The Surgeon General has received a deluge of letters from ECT survivors. National coverage has inclucded articles in the New York Times, Fox News, Associated Press. Hopefully the Surgeon General has decided to re-think his statements before this report is released.
Along with hundreds of others left damaged and or disabled by ECT, I made my statement to the Surgeon General that ECT was not "safe" nor was it "effective" for me.
Instead ECT left me permanently disabled with verified brain damage.
Dec 1 1997 Ilinois passed a law requiring reporting of deaths within 14 days of ECT, becoming the second state, following Texas to reauire reporting of deaths. About one out of 200 who get ECT are dead within 2 weeks of their "treatment" (See Texas Dept of Mental Health stats and USA Today article by Dennis Cachon Dec 1995)
Jan, 1998 the Illinois Supreme Court restricted the use of shock therapy by including safeguards for "any unusual , hazadous, or experimental services or psychosurgery" sought without the patients written and informed consent. In referring to setting the same standards for governing ECT as for psychotropic drugs, Justice Benjamin Miller of the Illinois Supreme Court wrote "Both types of treatment are mind altering, invasive and present significant side effects...Both types of treament have the potential for misuse by medical personnel for the purposes of patient control rather than patient treatment." (Associated Press "Shock Therapy Use Restricted By Court" Jan 23 1998)
06-16-2001, 05:09 PM
I'd like to save relevant and useful threads pertaining to "mental illness" -- whether pro-psychiatric or anti-psychiatric in tone--from the pruning-room floor.
(Geeze, how did I manage to MISS this thread when it was extant?)
10-29-2011, 01:21 PM
Hello people. I am a ECT survivor and I DO NOT reccomend it to anybody. There are other options for people instead of ECT treatments. I will tell you my heart wrencing story.
10-29-2011, 01:27 PM
A new record! March 1999.
C K Dexter Haven
10-29-2011, 03:19 PM
joewood2000, welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards. We're glad you found us.
However, please be aware that the thread you are posting to is ten years old. The post before yours was made in 2001. Many of the people posting to this thread are no longer participants in our boards. It's what we call a "zombie" thread. We normally don't care much, but in this case it seems unfair to be responding to ten-year old comments.
If you'd like to start a new thread, please do so. I'm closing this one.
PS - For those wondering: when we started the Message Boards, it was under a different system. When we migrated to VB, everything carried over except the names of the posters. We didn't know why then, and we don't know why now, but it's pretty much irrelevant except when a really REALLY old thread gets resurrected.
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