By Dr. Peter Breggin, MD in Mad in America
In an internet email discussion among a large group of supposedly enlightened mental health professionals, few came forward to outright condemn or ban ECT. One participant responded to my comments with, “It worries me how this debate gets so polarized. I appreciate Peter’s opposition to ECT. But that doesn’t mean ECT has not ‘helped people’ even though it might be a placebo effect.” Another declared it was “fashionable” to criticize ECT, but all treatments had their pros and cons. Most seemed to agree that “it sometimes works.”
This refusal to say or to accept something polarizing is a hallmark of most so-called reformers in the field of mental health. What about lobotomy—most of which my 1970s campaign stopped? What about insulin coma therapy? The spinning chair? What about freezing baths? What about the bleeding and purgatives? What about all the other atrocities committed by psychiatry on helpless “patients”? Should we never have simply said, “Stop!”?
Some Things Are Worth Polarizing Over
We know enough about the damage caused by ECT to conclude that it would be unethical even to experiment on people (and perhaps even on animals) in search of that person who supposedly might benefit…