Friday, August 18, 2006

Psychiatrist defends use of electric shock therapy

If you beat someone long enough you can drive them into submission. Only now, we beat them with electro-shock and give them brain damage as well. It the treatment is so beneficial and harmless, let's use it as least once on every psychiatrist in training. This outrage as reported in the Daily Post from New Zealand.

Shock treatment use has plummeted nationally but that's no reason to believe it's a "fringe" method, a leading psychiatrist says. Ministry of Health director of mental health Dr David Chaplow said there had been decline in use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) nationally but that did not make the increasing use among Rotorua and Taupo people wrong.

Lakes District Health Board has the highest use of the treatment in the country with 22 people per 100,000 receiving the treatment. It is three times the national average of 7.5 per 100,000 people.

Nationally the use of ECT has plummeted since the beginning of the decade. In the 2001/2002 year 92 people per 100,000 were treated with ECT but just 7.5 per 100,000 received the treatment last year.

The figures prompted Dr John Read, a senior psychology lecturer at Auckland University, to call for the health board to launch an urgent inquiry, saying the figures were of concern.

ECT involves passing an electric current through the brain to induce a seizure, altering brain chemistry to regulate a patient's mood. [...] Those against it say it is primitive, causes long-term brain damage and should be banned.

Lakes District Health Board isn't commenting but has said it is looking at the figures quoted in the report and carrying out "some analysis around that information".

Dr Chaplow said nationally ECT had gone out of fashion but that was no reason to think the Lakes board was over-using the treatment.

"There is also a perception among lay people that putting electricity through [someone's] head must be a bad thing." [...]
Perception? Why isn't he volunteering for it? See also this story: Rotorua electric shock capital

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