“Two soft pads, which felt slightly moist, clamped themselves against Winston’s temples. He quailed. There was pain coming, a new kind of pain. O’Brien laid a hand reassuringly, almost kindly, on his.
“This time it will not hurt,” he said. “Keep your eyes fixed on mine.”
At this moment there was a devastating explosion, or what seemed like an explosion, though it was not certain whether there was any noise. There was undoubtedly a blinding flash of light. Winston was not hurt, only prostrated .... A terrific painless, blow had flattened him out. Also something had happened inside his head. As his eyes regained their focus, he remembered who he was, and where he was, and recognized the face that was gazing into his own; but somewhere or other there was a large patch of emptiness, as though a piece had been taken out of his brain.”
***George Orwell, 1984: Chapter 3
(For full article and RESOURCES: Please click read more)
In the late 1940’s to early 1950’s America underwent a wave of conformity. It was the dawn of a psychiatric movement, new and improved ways of curing unwanted emotions had arrived. Why? World War II changed the order of world power; the United States and the USSR become super powers, Cold War began…..And as we know: The Cold War caused a lot of fear and it became a national obsession to be normal…
But what is Normal? Let’s look:
Normal from Merriam-Webster: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle. And B: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
Normal from Medical-dictionary: Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical.
2. Functioning or occurring in a natural way; lacking observable abnormalities or deficiencies.
3. Occurring naturally and not because of disease, inoculation, or any experimental treatment. Used of immunity.
6. Of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development.
Last Definition: From WHO…which is not the term “normal” but Mental health: a state of well-being: Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Now let us go back for a moment to the late 40’s early 50’s to see what happened during this time of heightened fear (you know the bomb could be dropped at any time) …Specifically let us look at the medical interventions that were taking place during this time to help bring about a normalcy in human being…You know to help them to cope with normal stresses and be able to contribute to their community. (I take pause with this because the very threat of a bomb being dropped at any time cannot be seen as a normal situation….I mean, how does one cope with the stress of having Drop and Cover Drills in school?)
Let’s first look at Lobotomy ....A practice which started in 1935 and used into the 1980’s, however it was during the 40’s and 50’s that most lobotomy’s in America took place. A lobotomy was a legitimate alternative treatment for serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and SEVERE DEPRESSION. In 1936 Psychiatrist Freeman performed the first U.S. prefrontal lobotomy on a Kansas housewife. Freeman thought that an overload of emotions led to mental illness and “that cutting certain nerves in the brain could eliminate excess emotion and stabilize a personality. (From National Public Radio Article)
He wanted to stream line it, you know make it more efficient than having to drill into a person’s head, so he created the 10-minute transorbital lobotomy (known as the ice-pick lobotomy) which was first performed in his Washington D.C. office in January of 1946. All told he performed 2,500 lobotomies, once performing 25 in one day.
Again, according to the NPR article, the procedure went like this: “As those who watched the procedure described it, a patient would be rendered unconscious by electroshock. Freeman would then take a sharp ice pick-like instrument, insert it above the patient’s eyeball through the orbit of the eye, into the frontal lobes of the brain, moving the instrument back and forth. Then he would do the same thing on the other side of the face.”
You are probably wondering if this procedure was simply for the seriously depressed or schizophrenic, not always. The youngest patient was a 12-year-old boy. Why was he given a lobotomy? His stepmother said that Dully was defiant, daydreamed and even objected to going to bed…According to his father, who took him to several doctors, the boy was diagnosed as being normal….Yet he still got the lobotomy. You can read more about his lobotomy at the following link: http://www.npr.org/2005/11/16/5014080/my-lobotomy-howard-dullys-journey
Lucky for us, this ended.
Which brings us to another treatment: Electric Shock Therapy.
What I want to do first is to quote medical Notes and Journals…After which we will have to pause and I hope you join me for part two where we will go into more information on what ECT is and how it is used.
1948 — We started by inducing two to four grand mal convulsions daily until the desired degree of regression was reached.... We considered a patient had regressed sufficiently when he wet and soiled, or acted and talked like a child of four.... Sometimes the confusion passes rapidly and patients act as if they had awakened from dreaming; their minds seem like clean slates upon which we can write. CYRIL J. C. KENNEDY and DAVID ANCHEL (U.S. electroshock psychiatrists), “Regressive Electric-Shock in Schizophrenics Refractory to Other Shock Therapies.” Psychiatric Quarterly, vol. 22, 1948.
1948- 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. PAUL H. HOCH (Hungarian-born U.S. electroshock psychiatrist and past commissioner of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene), “Discussion and Concluding Remarks,” Journal of Personality, vol. 17, 1948.
1949 — Quite a number of psychiatrists object to shock treatment, or frontal lobotomy, because they say it is only a symptomatic treatment, like giving the patient a sleeping pill when he suffers from insomnia.... In most of our treatments what we actually are achieving is an emotional amputation, in a sense that we prevent a conflict from remaining dominant in the patient’s mind. PAUL H. HOCH (Hungarian-born U.S. electroshock psychiatrist), “Theoretical Aspects of Frontal Lobotomy and Similar Brain Operations,” American Journal of Psychiatry, December 1949.
1949 — [While filming Annie Get Your Gun in 1949, Judy Garland] began to arrive at the studio late or not at all, often staying home, unable to rise from her bed. Her weight dropped to 90 pounds, and her hair began to fall out, a side effect, most likely, of her profligate use of amphetamines. In an effort to lift her out of her depression, a new doctor, Fred Pobirs, persuaded her to undergo a series of six electroshock treatments. GERALD CLARKE (U.S. writer), Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, 2000. JUDY GARLAND returned to the set after finishing the electroshock series, but, as she recalled later, “I couldn’t learn anything. I couldn’t retain anything; I was just up there making strange noises. Here I was in the middle of a million-dollar property, with a million-dollar wardrobe, with a million eyes on me, and I was in a complete daze. I knew it, and everyone around me knew it.”
1949 — There were 2 deaths among 18 patients who underwent intensive electroshock at Mapperley Hospital, Nottingham, England in 1949 [editor’s summary]. PAUL L. WEIL (British electroshock psychiatrist), “‘Regressive’ Electroplexy in Schizophrenics,” Journal of Mental Science, April 1950.
Late 1940s–early 1950s — Every morning I woke in dread, waiting for the day nurse to go on her rounds and announce from the list of names in her hand whether or not I was for shock treatment, the new and fashionable means of quieting people and of making them realize that orders are to be obeyed and floors are to be polished without anyone protesting and faces are made to be fixed into smiles and weeping is a crime. JANET FRAME (New Zealand electroshock survivor and writer), Faces in the Water, ch. 1, sect. 1, 1961. Frame was electroshocked more than 200 times over an eight-year period during her twenties. An acclaimed writer, Frame’s autobiography was made into a 1990 film titled An Angel at My Table.
So let us move forward because I am trying to understand why hardly anyone seems to care about the burgeoning numbers of Adults and Children being labeled as Mentally Ill and the implications of this, not only on the future, but on the present. Can it be that 1 in 4 Adults and 1 in 5 children have a mental illness (many sources)? Could it be that we are labeling emotions as disorders…Could it be that when someone is sad, they have a genuine reason to be sad and if we simply took the time to really listen to them and with a change in diet, exercise, or people they are hanging out with….could make them happy?
I won’t be talking about drugs today, no, something else, Why? Because slowly the use of Electric Shock Therapy (ECT) is a growing trend once again. This is a touchy subject, but let me be clear, as long as you are an adult and know the risks, this information is not for you…This is an appeal for compassion for those who are not allowed to choose for themselves, this is for the elderly and children… using ECT on those who cannot fully comprehend or have a real say in the matter, is a practice I cannot agree with. This of course is only my opinion, but I did want to share, because I was only recently made aware that ECT was being used on children, including autistic children, the elderly and even pregnant women. All the while, other more natural treatments, that don’t cause side effects, are available. And when I look into whom is getting the treatments, more often than not it is a patient that the institutions are trying to control. Basically it is being used for Behavior Modification. Or rather to help one be Normal…
Today an estimated 100,000 people in the US undergo ECT every year 2/3 are women, and half are the elderly. Age ranges from 2 years 8 months to as old as 102)
The cost of electroshock series: 50,000 to 75,000 …but if you do outpatient or psychiatrist office it is only 1,500 to 2,000 per session. Psychiatrists who specialize in electroshock often earn 300,000 to 500,000 a year. Why do I bring up money???? Because like it or not we live in a society which sometimes lets the love of money override the care and wellbeing of other human beings.
The most common indication for electroshock is a diagnosis of clinical, or severe, depression. An ECT series for depression typically consists of 6 to 12 sessions. People diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic depression) may also be subjected to electroshock, but this is less common; for such patients, a series of 15 to 25 sessions is standard. ECT is usually administered in the early morning, three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).
Electroshock has also been administered to people with the following psychiatric diagnoses: alcoholism, anorexia, anxiety disorder, catatonia, drug withdrawal syndrome, homosexuality (no longer a psychiatric diagnosis), hysteria (ditto), narcotic addiction, neurosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorder, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, psychosomatic disorder, pseudodementia, psychosis, and substance abuse. In addition, ECT has been used to treat these medical conditions: Alzheimer’s disease (that seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?), backache, acute and chronic pain, delirium tremens, dementia, epilepsy, mental retardation, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and psoriasis.
For persons said to be suicidal or in a state of depletion from lack of food (inanition), electroshock is frequently the treatment of choice. For most psychiatric diagnoses, however, it is the treatment of next resort (after one or more unsuccessful trials with a psychiatric drug or combination of psychiatric drugs).
Let us turn to WebMd (Why, it is the most widely used medical information for us nonmedical folk: ECT is among the safest and most effective treatments available for depression.(I have yet to see this as a statistical fact, according to Psychology Today, The University of Toronto has compiled and analyzed over 26 years of scientific research which concludes that even moderate levels of physical activity , like walking 20-30 minutes a day can ward off depression in people of all ages) But let’s continue With ECT, electrodes are put on the patient's scalp and a finely controlled electric current is applied while the patient is under general anesthesia. The current causes a brief seizure in the brain.
ECT is generally used when severe depression is unresponsive to other forms of therapy. Or it might be used when patients pose a severe threat to themselves or others and it is too dangerous to wait until medications take effect.
Although ECT has been used since the 1940s and 1950s, it remains misunderstood by the general public. Many of the procedure's risks and side effects are related to the misuse of equipment, incorrect administration, or improperly trained staff. It is also a misconception that ECT is used as a "quick fix" in place of long-term therapy or hospitalization. Nor is it correct to believe that the patient is painfully "shocked" out of the depression. Unfavorable news reports and media coverage have contributed to the controversy surrounding this treatment.
(I think I know which media coverage they are talking about, so I will leave that video below)
….HUH…The side effects? Well let’s now turn to FDA.gov and the advisory committees on ECT (I will leave a link) Let us look at Page 129 Table 16: Risks and Adverse Events and Proposed Mitigation Factors.
Okay, so let us go back to that nasty little side-effect: Death.
Electroshock can also be fatal. Estimates of ECT-related death rates vary widely.
The lower estimates include:
• 1 in 10,000 (see in the text Boodman’s first entry in 1996)
• 1 in 1,000 (Impastato’s first entry in 1957)
• 1 in 200, among the elderly, over 60 (Impastato’s in 1957)
Higher estimates include:
• 1 in 102 (see in the text Martin’s entry in 1949)
• 1 in 95 (Boodman’s first entry in 1996) • 1 in 92 (Freeman and Kendell’s entry in 1976) • 1 in 89 (Sagebiel’s in 1961)
• 1 in 69 (Gralnick’s in 1946)
• 1 in 63, among a group undergoing intensive ECT (Perry’s in 1963-1979)
• 1 in 38 (Ehrenberg’s in 1955)
• 1 in 30 (Kurland’s in 1959)
• 1 in 9, among a group undergoing intensive ECT (Weil’s in 1949)
• 1 in 4, among the very elderly, over 80 (Kroessler and Fogel’s in 1974-1986)
You might ask why ECT related deaths are difficult to estimate- some reason, as noted in: The Electroshock Quotationary® Leonard Roy Frank, Editor:
• There is no central tracking of ECT-related deaths.
• Some psychiatrists and hospitals underreport the number of ECT-related deaths.
• Some psychiatrists and pathologists do not recognize deaths occurring during or soon after ECT as ECT-related.
• Families often refuse to authorize autopsies of relatives who have died during or soon after ECT.
• Professional journals are disinclined to publish reports or studies of ECT-related deaths. Not since 1957 has any journal published a large-scale study of ECT- related deaths (see in the text Impastato’s first entry in 1957).
• It is difficult to determine with certainty, or near certainty, that ECT was the cause of a patient’s death because multiple causes are often involved.
• Deciding whether or not a patient’s death is ECT-related is difficult to establish because there is no accepted time interval between a death and the last electroshock he or she received. For example, is it an ECT-related death only if the patient dies within a few minutes of undergoing ECT or may the interval be a specific number of hours, days, or weeks up to a year?
Let’s stop here because I know this is overwhelming so I want to leave you with some resources and my own bit of advice for what it’s worth:
Sometimes a good cry can help. If you hate your job, start looking for another one. Surrounded by miserable people, make new friends. What makes you happy? Well do more of it (unless its drugs or alcohol, probably not a good solution) Get out and exercise, start slow if you have to. You can do this. Above anything else, be true to yourself, so what if you aren’t “Normal” point in fact, diversity makes this world a lot prettier…seriously…could you imagine a world with only roses?
Resources: You can access the FDA report Here: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/MedicalDevicesAdvisoryCommittee/neurologicalDevicesPanel/UCM240933.pdf
Autism Shock Therapy Practiced In US Is Torture, Says UN Official: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2013/03/08/autism-shock-therapy-is-torture-says-un-official/
Fox News: School Tortures Autistic Teen with Electric Shock and boy dies: (Video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssc8mUqUEqE&feature=youtu.be
For Information and alternate treatment: http://www.breggin.com/
The following is a medical debate about ECT (video): http://youtu.be/r6WXey2b-jA
You can download a free copy of The Electroshock Quotationary®
Leonard Roy Frank, Editor Here: http://www.endofshock.com/Final%20version%20Quotationary.pdf
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