- Hardcover: 398 pages
- Publisher: Rutgers University Press; 1 edition (September 27, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813541697
- ISBN-13: 978-0813541693
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shock Therapy: A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness Hardcover – December 21, 2012
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About the Author
DAVID HEALY is a professor of psychiatry in the department of psychological medicine at Cardiff University and the author of numerous books, including Let Them Eat Prozac. He was secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology.
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Top Customer Reviews
Is it past time for ECT to be taken off the naughty step? I think reading this, that it is/
The statement is typical of the shallow and disingenuous character of the book. To claim that it's not your goal to establish whether ECT causes memory problems, i.e., to imply that you are taking a "neutral" stance, and then proceed to argue only one side of the debate - this is the stuff of clever editorials, not legitimate historical analysis.
Psychiatry has always pursued a Don't Look, Don't Tell policy when it comes to shock treatment. For example, the American Psychiatric Association's 1990 task force report on ECT cited one 1986 study, by Freeman and Kendell, in claiming, "A small minority of patients, however, report persistent deficits." Compare this with what Freeman and Kendall actually wrote: "We were surprised by the large number who complained of memory impairment. Many of them did so spontaneously without being prompted, and a striking 30% felt that their memory had been permanently affected."
Shorter and Healy ignore this pattern and instead adopt it. They misrepresent the shock literature, leave out important studies, and completely avoid important issues, including the almost universal relapse of patients following shock, psychiatry's refusal to conduct proper studies of shock's effects, and the fact that, while patients in community settings are commonly shocked at electrical doses grossly in excess of the American Psychiatric Association recommended guidelines, researchers never employ such levels.
This is a credulous and poorly researched paean to shock treatment. The research literature is mostly ignored and the voices of patients are mostly silent and, if heard, quickly dismissed. Those who are searching for the truth about shock treatment will not find it here.
That's a shame in a book which has been promoted as a major contribution to the body of work on ECT. It has completely ignored (once again) the viewpoints and experiences of shock patients. To have excluded so much literature that would counter the authors' conclusions seems to prove that patients really don't matter; paternalism does.
I am just stunned, as are many of Dr. Healy's former supporters in the psychiatric rights community, that he and Shorter would even publish such a book. It is "scientific review" at its very worst.
The polarizing argument plaguing this issue does no one any good. Shorter and Healey's book make clear that the treatment should not be used on people who are already disposed to worries about its effects. The authors show convincingly that the treatment has always depended on the therapeutic value of seizures.
As far as Richard Warner's claim that the book is "a credulous and poorly researched paean to shock treatment," this will be plainly contradicted by anyone who takes the time to read it. The authors have provided an excellent account of the treatment's origins and different permutations over the years, any effort to read the book will be repaid.
I do think though that the authors could have given more discussion to the profoundly conflicting opinions over the treatment, and I don't think they give enough voice to those who hold sincere complaints about their experiences.
Nevertheless, Shock Therapy overs a superb account of the history and development of this still highly controversial psychiatric treatment.