Saturday, June 23, 2007

Electroshocking children by Leonard Roy Frank

Electroshocking children by Leonard Roy Frank

The estimated 1 in 155 children in the U.S. said to be autistic, represent an untapped and apparantly growing market waiting to be exploited by the electroshock (ECT) industry. And now a first move has been made. At least two electroshock proponents are promoting the notion that ECT may be an effective treatment for children diagnosed as autistic.

Psychiatrists D.M. Dhossche and S. Stanfill (Deptartment of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson) have recommended that "All child specialists -- psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, and developmental pediatricians -- should independently review the feasibility, potential, and risk of using ECT in autism." To back their recommendation, the psychiatrists wrote, "ECT is considered as a safe, effective, and life-saving treatment in people of all ages who suffer from affective disorder, acute psychosis, and, in particular, catatonia. There are recent speculations that certain types of autism may be the earliest expression of catatonia and that both disorders have identical risk factors. Therefore, ECT may improve autism and, if started early enough, may prevent further development of autistic symptoms in some children. The use of ECT in autism has never been systematically assessed. There have been two large ECT studies in child!
ren in the 1940s. Autism was not assessed in these studies because the autistic syndrome was just then being recognized as a separate entity. Findings from these studies add little to the hypothesis that ECT may be effective in autistic children, but attest to the safety and feasibility of ECT in children.... Unless anti-ECT prejudice can be overcome, it is unlikely that any ECT trial in autism is forthcoming. Research areas that may support the hypothesis that ECT is effective in autism should be pursued." ("Could ECT Be Effective in Autism?" Medical Hypotheses, 63(3):371-6., January 2004)

Dhossche and Stanfill have falsified and omitted certain key facts about ECT. Not only is electroshock unhelpful, it is also a memory-destroying, intelligence-lowering, brain-damaging, and life-threatening procedure that has worsened the lives of millions of people since its introduction almost 70 years ago. As to the findings of "safety and feasibility of ECT in children" in two studies conducted during the 1940s, consider this selection from "The Electroshock Quotationary" ( about what is perhaps the best known study on ECT and children from this period:

1947 - It is the opinion of all observers in the hospital, in the school rooms, of the parents and other guardians that the children [a total of 100] were always somewhat improved by the [electric shock] treatment inasmuch as they were less disturbed, less excitable, less withdrawn, and less anxious. They were better controlled, seemed better integrated and more mature and were better able to meet social situations in a realistic fashion. They were more composed, happier, and were better able to accept teaching or psychotherapy in groups or individually.
LAURETTA BENDER (U.S. electroshock psychiatrist and co-originator of the Bender-Gestalt Scale Test, 1897-1987), "One Hundred Cases of Childhood Schizophrenia Treated with Electric Shock," Transactions of the American Neurological Association (72nd Annual Meeting), July 1947. Comment: In a 1954 follow-up study, two psychiatrists investigated 32 children Bender had electroshocked. "In a number of cases, parents have told the writers that their children were definitely worse after EST. In fact, many of these children were regarded as so dangerous to themselves or others that hospitalization become imperative. Also, after a course of such treatment one nine-year-old boy made what was interpreted as an attempt at suicide." Soon afterwards, when being admitted to a state hospital, "he said that he had tried to hang himself because [referring to ECT] he was 'afraid of dying and wanted to get it over with fast'" (E. R. CLARDY and ELIZABETH M. RUMPF [U.S. psychiatrists], "The Effect !
of Electric Shock Treatment on Children Having Schizophrenic Manifestations," Psychiatric Quarterly, vol. vol. 28 [supplement], 1954). Comment: "Children have been treated without harm as shown by the

extensive experience of Bender" (LOTHAR B. KALINOWSKY [German-born U.S. electroshock psychiatrist], "Electric and Other Convulsive Treatments," published in Silvano Arieti, ed., American Handbook of Psychiatry, 2nd ed., vol. 5, 1975).

Is there any limit to the depravity of the psychiatrists who use or promote the use of electroshock on children? If there is such a place as hell, surely its hottest places are reserved for those psychiatrists.

Leonard Roy Frank