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ElectroshockReview - Electroshock
Restoring the Mind
by Max Fink, M.D.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Review by Bruce Pollard
Oct 4th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 40)

Electroshock, Restoring the Mind, is one of the most comprehensive books that I have seen written that can allay the fears of the lay person and the patient who may be facing Electroconvulsive Therapy, (ECT) Images of Jack Nicholson walking zombie like, from the film One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest are totally destroyed. This common perception of permanent brain damage as a result of the treatment, is shown to be the fallacy that it was. ECT as it is more commonly known now, is used in a variety of mental disorders. It has proven to be effective in many disorders where psychotropic and neuroleptic medications were insufficient to control or suppress the disorder on their own, or the patient was not responsive to them. ECT is used for a variety of conditions such as depression, both unipolar and bipolar, delirium, catatonia, schizophrenia, mania and psychosis. Although the actual effect that ECT has on the brain is not fully known, the technique has been refined to the extent where there is little or no danger to the patient.

Patients are advised of the procedure prior to it being administered and they are made fully aware of what will occur to them while the procedure takes place. All patients are fully anaesthetized prior to the procedure beginning, and either a bi-lateral or uni-lateral electrode is placed on their forehead while a short, low voltage electric shock is administered. This electric shock causes the brain to produce a grand mal seizure, similar to an epileptic fit that may last for a period of two minutes. During this time they are administered 100% oxygen to ensure that no loss of oxygen to the brain occurs for any reason. When the patient recovers consciousness they are unaware of what has occurred and will have the same effects as any other person recovering from a light anaesthetic procedure. Some may experience a temporary memory loss and some nausea and as the anaesthetic wears off, they regain this lost memory. The procedure is usually carried out in an in-patient situation until the positive results of the procedure become evident and then they can continue as an outpatient.

The number treatments vary from patient to patient, but the norm is around 1 treatment of electroshock conducted every second day, until 12 treatments have been given. Patients may be sent home with some medications, generally a lot less than they came into hospital with.

The author goes to great extent to use anecdotal descriptions of patients that have received electroshock treatment, and who have successfully returned to their former position prior to them developing a mental disorder. These include, students, psychiatrists, musicians, the young and the elderly. He strongly advocates the use of electroshock as an early intervention, prior to the administration of more common and popular, medicinal interventions.

 

Bruce Pollard describes himself as follows:

I am currently undergoing a training course in "Everyday Counselling" and also doing a course in Theology. I am 42 years old and spent 20 of them in the Victoria Police Force in Australia. I am being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have come a long way as a result of the psychological and psychiatric treatment that I have had. I hold a Diploma in Sports Psychology. I am physically disabled as a result of a genetic blood disorder, and a spinal injury that I incurred in the Police Force. My main ambition in life is to keep assisting people as I did, in my prior career, and to help out those, who need that little bit extra help in their lives.


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