You remember that movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?  Do they still do ECT therapy?  Ask around.  People will say to you, “No, they give people medication now.”  Nope.

Stop Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy

In Canada, 130 hospitals give ECT.

Statistics for ECTs given yearly are:

· Ontario, Canada – 14,000 (approximate) ECTs given yearly

· USA – 100,000 Americans get ECTs yearly

· Worldwide – estimated to be 1 to 2 million ECTs given yearly.

The side effects of ECT include brain damage, permanent memory loss and even death.  Consider that the elderly are now increasingly the recipients of electroconvulsive shock therapy.

In British Columbia, people 65 years of age and over comprised 44 per cent of the 835 patients receiving ECT in 2001.  The article in the web link shows similar percentages for the other provinces in Canada.

Debates over ECT for the elderly.

Opponents of ECT, like Dr. John Breeding, a Texas psychologist, say the actual death rate among elderly electroshock recipients is closer to one in 200 patients, or 0.5 per cent.

Even the World Health Organization opposes electroconvulsive therapy:

“Although significant controversy surrounds electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and some people believe it should be abolished, it has been and continues to be used in many countries for certain mental disorders. If ECT is used, it should only be administered after obtaining informed consent.

“And it should only be administered in modified form, i.e. with the use of anaesthesia and muscle relaxants. The practice of using unmodified ECT should be stopped.

“There are no indications for the use of ECT on minors, and hence this should be prohibited through legislation.”

Source:  Page 64 – WHO RESOURCE BOOK ON MENTAL HEALTH, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGISLATION WHO 2005
Benedetto Saraceno, MD