When I was an undergrad student taking psychology courses in the mid 1980s, ECT was portrayed as something from one of the dark chapters in psychiatric history.
“We know better now” was the general message put out by psychology textbooks.
So when I recently heard that ECT was on the rise again, I was truly surprised.
Actually, ECT never entirely went away, despite what those psychology textbooks claimed.
I understand that only those who are severely depressed undergo treatment. But surely there’s a better way.
Scientists don’t even know why it works. Some theorize that it temporarily blunts the emotions by decreasing blood flow to a region of the brain.
Critics say that ECT usually causes disorientation and memory loss and when the treatment wears off, things are even worse.
To me, the whole thing sounds like something frightening out of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle era or perhaps further back to Mary Shelley.
Sociologically, statistics show that late middle aged women receive this treatment significantly more than men.
No wonder I abandoned psychology as my undergrad major and switched to sociology. As one sociology professor put it while I was contemplating the change, “psychology is hindering your intellectual development.”
Of course, sociology fell short too. As did philosophy and, as you may have read yesterday, the academic study of religion.
That’s why I like to talk about the issues. Nobody has everything all figured out. And anyone who emphatically thinks they have are probably insane, naïve, brainwashed or fanatical.