Are you considering electroshock “therapy treatments”? Read this first.

I have had these so-called “treatments” a number of times.  This is my experience as patient.  I am not a doctor or nurse or neurologist, nothing like that, just a person who went through it.  I know others who have had them as well, some more recently.

I don’t know anyone personally who would say they were thankful they had them.  Maybe a week later, they said that the treatments were helpful.  Ask them a few months later, the story is not so positive.

What I do often hear is that folks were by all means, coerced into the treatments, or not told the whole gamut of side effects.  Many people were shown a movie.  This movie is made by proponents of shock.  It’s not an objective film that shows the pros and cons realistically.  You can go to the Prozac website and find out about the pros of Prozac, but you won’t find out about lawsuits against the makers of Prozac, or about the public outcries about the drugs, or the depth of concerns about giving Prozac to young people or people with certain health conditions.  Anyone can fill a drug maker’s website with all kinds of propaganda.  This film is propaganda, too.  Often, patients are shown the film while inpatient, and then the nurse will answer questions.

Yes, many patients get coerced and don’t have much chance to speak with those that have been damaged by shock.  Patients can have irreversible memory loss.  I myself was fortunate enough to get my memory back, but many lose quite a bit of their lives…forever.  I’ve heard such heartbreaking stories, such as people forgetting their wedding days…forever.  Women forgetting their baby’s first steps as they learn to walk.  Never mind the forgotten PIN numbers!  That’s a classic.  I know people who have opened their cell phone contact lists and had no clue who half the folks were that were listed. Forever.

But I want to say something else.  I know, folks, why shock works. No, it doesn’t even work at all, but people think it does.  Let me tell you why it works.  Why some people are so convinced.

You go to the shock doc. You’ve been on that horrible psych ward for a month, and nothing has worked.  Now, suddenly, it’s you.  All attention is on you.  You a lying on a clean table and several docs are actually paying attention to none other than you.  For a change, you aren’t shit.  You’re so important, cuz you could even die on that table before their eyes. For those ten minutes, you are more important to them than anyone. To avoid a lawsuit, for godsakes, your life is in their hands, and they’d better stay on their toes.  They are so focused on you.

Honestly, that much attention on me, being loved so much like that for those ten minutes would certainly jolt me like lightning shockeroo out of a deep depression for a while.  Maybe a week!  Me?  Little ole me? Do I matter that much?

That, in a nutshell, is why shock works.  It has nothing to do with the shock treatment itself.  The jolt of electricity is dangerous.  I would never recommend it.  If you want love, go get your hair done, hug your kids, get a dog, go somewhere else but the nut ward, it’s not worth it.

10 thoughts on “Are you considering electroshock “therapy treatments”? Read this first.”

    1. Yeah, Natasha, especially if you are a writer of memoir. Doctors think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter, who cares?” They think so little of us patients, that we don’t have REAL FEELINGS, that all we think about is card games and TV. Seriously. Or that what’s important to us, terribly important, is that we get “privileges” at the hospital. They think the extent of “meaningful conversation” between patients is, “What brand of cigarettes do you smoke,” and this is going to make us feel fulfilled. It’s so insulting. They assume we’re so shallow.

      I think the extent of their meaningful conversation is how many holes they did at golf. Or how expensive their vacations were.

      I can hardly wait to write my next book.

      Julie

      1. Yeah. I can only imagine how hard it is to find common ground (and trust) with people who see you as a “patient” or “client” or “broken”. I imagine they lose sight of the fact that they’re dealing with people who are struggling in one aspect of their lives, but are whole in the others.
        What’s your next book about? I’m rewriting my urban fantasy manuscript. I’m changing the novel location, I’m doing away with the romance element (I’m so over romance right now–I’m more interested in exploring how men and women can have a meaningful relationship WITHOUT always being secretly in love.), I’ve killed off a major character, and I’m adding a new one.

        1. You’ve KILLED OFF a major character? Oh, shame shame shame! So Mr. Mustard did it in the kitchen with a huge cake made of how many calories? Remember those cakes that some nice-looking lady or guy would pop out of? That’s how to get the mental patients out of the wards, Natasha, sneak them out inside birthday cakes via pink-cheeked delivery boys. Strong ones. Innocent, lanky adolescents. They were the ones that delivered pizza to the wards when the staff allowed it. Some patients had their credit cards on them, or had the numbers for memory, or filed with the pizza company. Poof! Pizza! If we were nice, we let the staff have some, if not, they starved. They’d come in the next morning and torture us with the scent of large coffees walking by from Starbucks. I put a lid on that one.

          Next book? It’s up for debate. I waver on it. Maybe making people aware of psychiatric abuse….or maybe something pioneering, because I’m really the ONLY ONE out there talking specifically about psychiatric abuse specific to this “eating disorders treatment.”

          Actually, psychiatric abuse is so centered on very specific things. I think that’s a mistake. Many organizations want to zero in on shock, on specific meds, on restraints, on forced drugging. I think we need to go more global. Oh, another blog topic…..

          Julie

  1. I have nothing positive to say about ECT, as they did Zilch for me and I wasn’t even able to view a film about it. The pdocs were frustrated at my resistance to meds so the ECT’s were there next course of treatment. I was just to sick, wanted to get well and allowed them to perform….let’s say way over 25 on me. The result: the depression remained but the long-term memory has all but gone and just pieces return now and then.

    The pdos who did the ECTs would always disagree with the “memory loss” side effect theory; I’d like to see them walk around after having that many.

    Thanks for the article. Deb

    1. Hi Deb,
      Of course, they will deny it. They will say it’s the depression that caused the memory loss. That’s the worst baloney I ever heard. Another thing they try is to completely forgo INFORMED CONSENT, thinking that people who are “depressed” are too “out of it” and that their feelings aren’t real feelings that matter, anyway. People with mental illness are considered by doctors to be shallow thinkers.

      I do feel that when a person is hospitalized (which undoubtedly is the case if they think a person is oh so depressed that they assume they can get away with this) the person is automatically under force anyway. It’s a given. The patient is behind locked doors and always watched and bossed around. The whole atmosphere is based on force and coercion.

      The confusion from ECT worsened for me considerably as soon as they switched from one-sided to double-sided (bilateral) ECT. The shock doc asked my permission for bilateral about two seconds before they gave me the needle, as I lay on the table. Some “informed consent” that was!

      I’d say it was maybe 25 for me, too. I’ll never forget…one day, the shock doc phoned my home and my BF answered. My BF didn’t live with me, but he was so worried that he had come over. I was so confused that I could not pick up my own phone. The shock doc asked my BF how Julie was. My BF answered, “Confused.”

      The shock doc said, “Oh, she must need a treatment! You’d better bring her in.”

      My BF was pissed, but he complied. He was heartbroken when he saw me after that treatment. I’m not sure how much longer they went on.

      Take care of yourself,

      Julie

      1. As with my hubby also, but he really didn’t know what to do and put his faith in these docs. See my article, I actually had 77 ECT’s, and you’d think after #25, or #35 a light bulb would have gone off and said “these aren’t working for her”. If the pdoc doing #77 hadn’t been transferred to another city, who knows, would have #78 followed? Geesh!

        http://cherished79.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/will-77-do-the-trick-ect/

        You take care also.
        Deb

        1. Crap, man, thanks for the link. Yeah, often it takes some stroke of good luck, such as a transfer of a doc to another city or a retirement. I, too, had a bunch of “change in personnel” good luck strokes myself happen a few times. I was so confused from those “treatments.” I remember throwing out my belongings in the trash not knowing if they were my belongings or if they were rubbish. Or walking down the street and back and not being able to find my way home. I do recall quite clearly (this breaks my heart) that our street was being repaved. My BF used a wheelchair, yet he painstakingly wheeled up and down the unpaved street with me, though it’s incredibly hard to do this in a manual chair with the dust and rocks, etc (the street was in awful condition that day) because if he hadn’t done this, I’d have gotten lost on that ten-minute walk with my dog. We managed. He said, “I don’t understand what’s happening to you, Jules, it doesn’t make sense. Why do they give you these shock treatments? They seem to make you confused, and not better at all. The doc says you are depressed, but he’s confusing ‘confusion’ with ‘depression,’ I think, and shocking you more.” My BF believed it was because the doc wanted money (like the orthopedists that want to operate on the wealthier patients). However, it was all a matter of “more treatment” and MORE CONTROL. Keeping the patient quiet and compliant. Plus they had no clue what they were doing, complete idiots.

          Julie

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