Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Setting Things Straight on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Setting Things Straight on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was originally known as electroshock therapy and was widely used to treat depression before the development of psycho pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants and anxiolytics.

Electroshock therapy originated in Berlin in 1927 when Manfred J. Sakel accidentally overdosed a diabetic patient with insulin, leading to convulsions and a sudden improvement in the patient's schizophrenia. Sakel proceeded to treat schizophrenics with what came to be known as "Sakel's Technique". Eventually, it was realized that insulin therapy was dangerous, oftentimes resulted in the death of the patient, was temporary, and thus was not a real cure.

In 1934, Ladislaus J. von Meduna developed another method of inducing convulsions with a drug called Metrazol. The convulsions induced by this drug were so dramatic that they resulted in spinal fractures in nearly half the patients. The treatment was considered far too dangerous and was stressful for psychiatrists to perform while the patient screamed and convulsed wildly on the table.

Lobotomies became popular in 1935. A method called the "ice-pick lobotomy" was popularly used on over a million people. The lobotomy involved inserting an ice pick under the eye and moving it around to damage and chop up the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and then retracting it. This left patients a permanently brain damaged zombie state, a benefit for psychiatric hospital staff. But, it was not a cure either.

Electroconvulsive therapy came on the scene in 1937 and was developed by Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini after they discovered that shocking animals temporarily stunned them without killing them. They soon turned to administering electroshock therapy to human subjects. ECT was marketed as a more acceptable form of electroshock therapy because patients were restrained and sedated with anesthesia and paralyzing drugs to control their screams and movement. This "more pleasant" way of damaging and numbing the brain with electroshock was used to mislead people to believe it was a new, pleasant, and safe method of effective psychosurgery.

However, many report that ECT is a barbaric process of inducing seizures and convulsions. A few people who have undergone ECT later committed suicide as a result. Others have lived to post their horrific tales of hurt in videos on YouTube. Many have permanent brain damage. Some have died.

By now, readers may be wondering what this has to do with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). A new study published in the Journal of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) by Jesper Elberlinig MD, Nils Gulmann, and Alice Rasmussen has declared that "a substantial, positive effect on symptom severity and social disability related to MCS was obtained by an initial ECT course and maintenance treatment. Electroconvulsive therapy should be considered an option in severe and socially disabling MCS."

The researchers of this study claim that "no effective treatment has been reported" for MCS. This is clearly untrue, which leads one to wonder what the ulterior motives of the researchers are. Avoidance and safe housing have both been reported as effective treatments with a statistically significant success ratio of over 95% improved. Everything industry does to discredit people with MCS completely ignores that safe environments alleviate symptoms. It is simply not true that "nothing works".

The study performed ECT on a single subject with MCS. This is not scientifically valid in terms of findings. Those familiar with science and statistics will be familiar with the bell curve. If you take one hundred people and plot their test values on a line, you will usually discover a bell curve. The bell curve has most of the subjects at its highest point, roughly 90 – 95%. A few subjects will fall on either side of the bell and are known as outliers. With a study on a single subject, there is no valid way to determine whether the subject was an average person at the top of the bell, or an outlier.

The results were described in terms of the perceived improvement of "symptom severity and social disability". This is quite different from measured improvements such as reduced hepatic toxicity and better liver function. The abstract does not even provide the diagnostic criteria used to determine the diagnosis; therefore, it can not be determined whether the subject truly had MCS.

In the study, the patient had to undergo ECT eight times and then have bi-weekly ECT treatments to maintain the "improvement". We must consider that more and more people are being injured and developing MCS. If people can't live without going in for bi-weekly ECT, something is wrong with the larger picture of toxic environmental exposures. In nature, we are supposed to be able to survive without being hooked up to machines and drugs. In nature, we DID and DO survive without being hooked up to these things. A safe, clean environment alleviates symptoms and PREVENTS the injuries leading to MCS in the first place.

In another study, Resertson and Pryor emphasize the important truth that "clinicians should fully inform patients of the possible permanent adverse effects of the treatment, which include amnesia, memory disability, and cognitive disability." (Robertson, H. & Pryor, R. (2006) Memory and cognitive effects of ECT: informing and assessing patients. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 12,228-237.)

A journal such as this study was published in, which is dedicated to ECT, isn't going to do anything other than find and support ways to use ECT for everything and anything. Even psychiatry has largely abandoned it in favor of psychiatric drugs. If psychiatric drugs don't cure MCS, why would ECT?

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has some eye opening videos of the true history of psychiatry with their own inadvertent capability of numbing one from the horrors of what psychiatry is really about. Be patient while the site lead and then go to the "museum" on the top menu. This video covers the history of ECT specifically.

No matter how you look at it, ECT is not a cure and certainly not an ideal thing to keep doing to the sensitive brain, particularly if one is electrosensitive.

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