Misuse of Shock Therapy: Psychiatric Survivors





Fatima Zahid
213465976
SOWK/ 2035




Shock Therapy can be misused without proper communication of informed consent with the psychiatric survivor resulting to a form of violation of human ri ghts and against medical ethics. The discovery of shock therapy started in Rome, Italy in 1938 by two psychiatrists called Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini in a slaughter house. What they had discovered was applying electros to the temples of the pigs eased or made them unconscious making the process of slaughter efficient and quick ( " The Brutal Reality: Harmful Psychiatric Treatments", 2010) . In contras t, as for human civilization shock therapy was misused mainly prior to 1950s and 1960s where pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressant drugs were not available. During those times consenting with family members or patients was not followed thr ough prior of the procedure, shock therapy was portrayed as a form of punishment for individuals who are not seen as "normal" to psychiatrists.

To understand the misuse of shock therapy, it's important to know the procedure and why it's still being used in today's world. Shock therapy is used for the following illnesses: individuals who think of killing themselves, hearing or seeing what others are not hear or see and when the use of psychiatric drugs is not helping (Kraus, Chandarana, 1997). The procedure according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the use of "small" amounts of electric currents typically 200-450 volts from 0.5 to 5 seconds are passed through the brain creating a seizure like effect. It continues to do so for approx. 30-60 seconds leaving the psychiatric survivor unconscious. This continues either daily or every other day for 1 to 2 weeks equaling to 6 to 12 treatments ( DV,JP KG, XR, BD,CH, 2017).
To make the process less horrific and painful as it used to be, the use of muscle relaxants such as succinylcholine and the use of general anesthesia along with pre-oxygenation of the brain may help "eliminate" (destroy the memory) of the procedure or help with tolerating the pain (Khandpur, 2014). However, this does not change the fact that there is electricity passing through the brain of the individual. The side effects can consist of possible brain damage, temporary or in most cases permanent memory loss which include the memories of the psychiatric survivor's personal experiences in life or certain events. Other improvements made to this procedure is the EEG seizure monitoring and other biomedical devices made to make the process more efficient (Tomal, Agajanian, 2014).
In the years of 2010 till 2011, 16,529 ECT treatments have been carried out in Ontario along with 75,000 treatments delivered in total in Canada respectively ( Wells & Zlomislic , 2012 ). These numbers are currently progressing higher. In Ontario shock therapy is covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. The industry itself is a multimillionaire money making of course the officials would not support to ban such therapy rather make as much use of it and promote the treatment.
In the Unites States of America, Shock therapy is a good source of money on an average American hospital a series of treatment can cost between $8,000 (series of 8 treatments) additional with the cost of staying at the hospital. An average American psychiatrist who has specialized in ECT can earn up to 300,000 to 500,000 a year. According to the "Indicators for Electroconvulsive Therapy among Patients Hospitalized for Depression" a total number of psychiatric survivors hospitalized with depression were 925,060 out of that number 20,251 underwent shock therapy (Suri, Suri, Adil, Qurashi, Malik, Suri, Qurashi, 2015). Doing the calculation with the cost of $8,000 per individual for a series of treatment, the electroshock industry is roughly making $162,000,000 yearly. This is a form of misuse as it indicates money can put a tag over humanity. It's a shame that the government officials support the use of shock therapy. The Shock therapy industry has no formal rules or regulation that they would have to report to in terms of the total shock therapies that have occurred so far or any other incident taking place such as medical complications or death related to shock therapy.
The government is violating their