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Electroshock Therapy

In: Psychology

Submitted By jamiehans
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Does electroshock therapy have a place in today’s therapy practices?

The article written by two men by the names of Jan-Otto Ottosson and Max Fink entitled “Electroconvulsion Therapy (ECT) “, is a very informative writing about the use of electroshock therapy and how it used today. According to these two men the practice of a mild electric current to the brain produces an epileptic-like seizure as a means of treating certain psychological disorders. Electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT and electroshock therapy, was established in the 1930s , at this time various observations led physicians to conclude that epileptic seizures are capable to prevent or relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia. Experiments were conducted with insulin and other seizure-inducing drugs, and Italian physicians learned that the use of an electric current can create seizures in schizophrenic patients. ECT was used frequently to treat schizophrenia, depression, and, in some cases, mania. It eventually became a source of arguement due to misuse and many negative side effects. ECT was misused and was often prescribed for treating disorders that had no real effect, such as alcohol dependence. Patients generally experienced confusion and loss of memory after treatments, and those whose condition improved eventually relapsed. Other side effects include speech defects, physical injury from the force of the convulsions, and cardiac arrest. According to the aunthors the use of electroconvulsive therapy was dissmissed after 1960 , and we were introduced to antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. The authors inform the reader that ECT is still used today but with less frequency and alterations that make the procedure safer and less painful. Patients receiving the therapy go to 4 to 10 treatments perfrmed over a period of about two weeks. Confusion and memory loss are reduced by the common practice of applying the current only to the non-dominant brain hemisphere. Some memory loss can still occur though for example Anterograde memory, which is the ability to learn new material returns quickly after following treatment Another memory the therapy can effect is retrograde memory which is the ability to remember past events is affected more strongly. Almost 100,000 people in the United States receive electroconvulsive therapy annually and it can only be administered with the consent of the patient and is used generally for extremely depressed patients who did not respond to antidepressant medications or to pateients who have sudden suicidal thoughts that make it dangerous to wait until such medications can take effect. ECT is also given to patients with bipolar disorder. After administration, the rate of relapse that comes from ECT can be reduced when it is accompanied by other forms of treatment. The aunthors conclude the article by informing the reader that the seizures rather than the electric current are the basis for the treatment's effects. Seizures can affect the functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain, including norepinephrine and serotonin, which are associated with depression. Because of its possible side effects and the discomfort most people feel about the electrical shocks inducing seizures, ECT remains an uncertain treatment method.
The article entitled “Electroconvulsion Therapy (ECT) “, was an informative article that gave me information about electroshock therapy and its use today. People have mental disorders that cannot be controlled and researchers will go to a great length to find a way to help the patients. People cannot overcome their mental disorders without the right therapy, so if going through ECT to improve his or her mental disorder I find it acceptable to use ECT today as long as the patient needs it.

Ottosson J.O. And Fink M. AN ETHICAL DILEMMA: ELECTROCONVULSIVE THERAPY. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2004.

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