Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock Treatment

Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock Treatment

Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock Treatment

Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock Treatment


Shock treatment. They say it's safe now; new and improved. They say it can't damage your brain or cause permanent memory loss.But who are they and why should you believe them? Doctors of Deception is the first history of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or shock treatment, to consider the controversial procedure in a social, legal, financial, medical, and moral context. Through the investigation of court records, medical research, FDA archives, and other primary sources, Linda Andre shows that claims of safety and efficacy made by doctors who promote and profit from ECT are not supported by science or evidence. She reveals how the shock industry and organized psychiatry abused public trust and waged a masterful, multi-decade public relations campaign to improve ECT's image, deceiving the media, the government, and the public about its risks while exploiting negative stereotypes of mental patients to silence survivors.The book documents the struggles of these former patients and their allies who have worked for over thirty years to inform others about the dangers of ECT, and includes vivid firsthand accounts of its permanent adverse effects on memory and cognition. Meticulously researched, Doctors of Deception builds a solid case that ECT can never be justified scientifically, medically, or morally.


Imagine you wake up tomorrow with your past missing. Although you look and feel the way you always have, and although everyone around you acts as if nothing’s wrong, you slowly become aware that you don’t have the most vital information about who you are. You may not recognize your home or know where your bank accounts are or what you are supposed to do for a living. You can’t remember your wedding, or your college education. Every day you discover more about how much of your life is gone. You’re like a detective trying to find out about the person who was once you. Eventually you realize that years of your life have been erased, never to return. Worse, you find that your daily memory and mental abilities aren’t what they were before. You are somehow slower, less sharp, less able or unable to resume your former work. With the integrity of your life destroyed, you no longer know who you are.

When you say what happened, no one believes you.

See? You can’t imagine. You can’t believe this happened to me.

The most obvious thing needs to be said first. Your memory is not a component of your self, like your hair color or temperament. You don’t lose it like you lose a suitcase. Your memory—the sum total of all you have ever thought, seen, smelled, heard, learned, and done in your life—is your self. When it is gone, you are a diminished person, and if enough of it is gone, you are a different person.

Even this way of talking about it—lost—is not accurate. Something lost, after all, may be recovered; a lost object can still be imagined, even if you don’t know where it is; the fact that it ever existed at all is not lost to you. When you lose your suitcase, you still know its shape, color, and size, and exactly what was in it.

The memory “loss” that happens with shock treatment is really memory erasure. a period of time is wiped out as if it never happened. Unlike memory loss associated with other conditions such as Alzheimer’s, which come on gradually and allow patients and families to anticipate and prepare for the . . .

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