In a Nutshell

Year Published:  1980  
Inactive Serial

Resource Type:  Serial Publication (Periodical)
Cx Number:  CX1075

Abstract:  This issue of the Newsletter of the Mental Patients Association (MPA) focuses on Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), and the work of its Committee to investigate shock treatment. One article in the newsletter describes in detail what is entailed in shock treatment. The following elements of ECT are investigated: fasting, tranquilizers or sedatives, graphite jelly to the temples, intravenously injected anesthetic, muscle relaxant, paralysis 70-170 volt shock (often repeated from 5 to 15 times), convulsions.

Another article raises questions about the effectiveness and safety of ECT. The MPA Committee to Investigate Shock Treatment has failed to produce even one study which scientifically proves the effectiveness of ECT, and calls upon the medical and psychiatric profession in B.C. to come forward with such studies in order to justify the widespread use of this treatment. As for safety, the article points out that before the advent of a muscle relaxing drug, there was a long history of broken bones, broken teeth, and spinal injuries. Several studies have indicated other side effects: brain damage, memory loss, impaired learning ability, weakened heart, and hyperactive thyroid.

A third article points to alternatives to ECT. What many people need when they are very depressed or upset seems to be a safe, comfortable place to be where they will be physically cared for, and contact with people who can help the person come to some understanding of what is happening to them emotionally and give support and validation. The Vancouver Emotional Emergency Centre has existed for the past two years and has provided just such an environment.

The newsletter also contains a book review of Blue Jolts: True Stories from the Cuckoo's Nest compiled by Charles Stein and published by New Republic Books. Poetry and other articles relevant to the struggle of mental patients are also included in the newsletter.

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