By our Placebo Psychiatry Correspondent
Placebo-ECT Shock! electroshock-works without the electro
Remarkable story published in Chicago Daily News Sept 1974, of a remarkable, natural and accidental double-blind random placebo random trial in which placebo electroshock therapy was shown to be effective for two years before the hospital’s new nurse indicated the machine delivering the juice actually had, well, no juice.
Yes folks, the new machine didn’t work, hadn’t worked and the only shock it had ever delivered was the one now evident on clinicians’ faces and other body parts.
Placebo Electroshock worked – even when the machine didn’t have electricity. Magic.
So, for two years the staff at the clinic had proudly been “delivering” the all “new”, “scientific”- “not at all like the old shock”, ECT therapy using their spanky new, fancy-dancy, hi-tech, not like the old-tech, all-new, bells and whistles machine – and claiming great success – without realising that the machine wasn’t actually working, had no electricity and wasn’t actually delivering a single millivolt or micro amp of shock.
Instead, people had merely been “treated” to being wheeled into the treatment room, put to sleep for a while with anaesthetics and woke up feeling better – in the way that most of us might feel better after some attention and a decent kip.
And these people say we lack insight.
Seriously, not even The Onion could make this shit up.
What is perhaps more remarkable 30 years later is that if today a clinic tried to intentionally design such an experiment it would be regarded as unethical – since putting people under anaesthetic without “treatment”would be deemed too great a risk.
Of course, anaesthetising people to deliberately cause the very kind of clonic tonic seizure that other doctors working to treat epilepsy are trying to prevent is not regarded as too risky is, of course, an entirely different matter.
We’re not against any “therapy” – we don’t know any more than the average aardvaark what will work for you and what will leave you worse off – only you can decide if any benefit you may get from any treatment is worth the risk- it is your choice and it is your risk.
But we do stand against doctors lying to patients and just being stupid – and we do enjoy mocking the ones afficted with HUAD.
Seriously, if a clinician can’t notice that their machine isn’t working yet at the same time insists that their therapy works then can you trust them to notice if the treatment does more harm than good?
So, if you’re being told that you’re “treatment resisitant” and that you “need” electroshock or ECT and that it “works”- so long as you keep taking the drugs that you’re resistant to; and that it’s “safe”; and that it “doesn’t really cause brian damage”, well not the kind you’d notice – except when it does; then you might want to do your bit for global warming and do yourself a favour too: insist that you first give the all new Placebo ECT a go – you know, the Electricity-free ECT kind.
Imagine, the reduction in energy consumption alone could save a major ice-shelf break off or two, and given the rate at which ECT is being pushed and forced on folks, it might even save us from global warming
Or, maybe you could just ask the staff to unplug the machine first, or keep your fingers crossed, or, well, you know…
Hospital Shocked by Finding No Sock in Its Shock Machine
by Raymond R. Coffey
Chicago Daily News , September 20, 1974
London. For two years, patients in a mental hospital in the north of England were given electric shock treatments that – unknown to anyone – did not work.
This bizarre story is recounted in an article in the current issue of World Medicine, a magazine for doctors published here every two weeks. And its author, a doctor involved in the treatment with the non-working machine, suggests the experience raises a further question whether electric shock treatment – “electrical convulsive therapy,” and a controversial treatment anyhow – really does patients any good. For, he says, the patients seemed to benefit as much from being put to sleep in preparation for the shock treatment – with anesthetics – as other patients do from the shock treatment itself.
The trouble began, he writes, when an old shock treatment machine quit working and was replaced with a new model that was “obviously a great improvement on the previous edition.”
This new machine, he says, “had dials and lights – and switches for different wave forms.” But, although the red light went on and needles moved as they were supposed to, he noticed the patients were not twitching as they had under the old machine. He asked if the machine might not be working but was assured by the head nurse that “Yes, it is. This sort doesn’t give any reaction (in the patients)… It’s in the instructions.”
The doctor checked in the instructions, the nurse seemed to be right, and the doctor says, “We used the apparatus for two years with no complaints from the patients.”
Then a new head nurse arrived on the scene and after assisting in only three treatments declared that the machine was “not working.” She was told that it was, as patients were not supposed to “twitch” while under treatment from this type of machine. “Look,” she said, “I’ve just come from a hospital with a machine just like this and they twitch all right.” The machine was examined – and the new nurse was right.
“All the patients had been getting for two years,” the doctor concludes, “was thiopentone and a shot of scoline (anesthetic to put them to sleep) – and no one had noticed.”
Global Protest: Electroshock /ECT – Sat 16th May 2015
You can join the Protest, against ECT, start a campaign for for Placebo ECT, Electro-Free ECT – or just PYSL at the biggest bunch of comedians in town since the leafs left to play golf – the American Psychiatric Association meets in Toronto for it’s AGM, coinciding with a worldwide protest against electroshock – especially the forced kind and especially the kind that comes with electricity.
Nathan Philips Square/ City Hall
and thence to…
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel Hotel.
123 Queen St W. Toronto
1pm to 3pm