The matter shouldn’t require a lot of thought. You don’t declare a medical device safe without testing it for safety. Any device that isn’t tested for safety couldn’t reliably be said to be safe. Having pointed out the obvious fact that a device that hasn’t been tested for safety can’t be said to be safe, why is the Food and Drug Administration holding hearings about spreading such a lie in the case of electro-shock devices? These hearing are going on today, January 27, and tomorrow, January 28.
If it weren’t for the ties FDA officials have with the makers and users of these devices I doubt these hearings would be taking place. Were the FDA independent of the psychiatric profession, the possibility of granting a safe status to an untested device just wouldn’t come up. This is a matter of upgrading a device’s status from dangerous to safe, not because it has been found to be safe, but because people want it to be declared safe based on wishful thinking. Manufacturers and their customers want these devices approved untested because they know they wouldn’t pass any such test.
Electro-shock is used to induce seizures. The theory runs that the mental state an epileptic experiences following a seizure is somehow therapeutic in the case of a person suffering from depression and some other “mental illness” labels. Epilepsy and electro-shock therapy both damage brains. Researchers are diligently seeking a cure for epilepsy for this very reason.
This information shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. When you send electricity through the central control center of the human body you can’t do so without upsetting something. This upset translates into harm, and this damage shows itself in the form of irrecoverable memory loss. Every time a person undergoes electro-shock there is some permanent memory loss. This permanent memory loss is a surefire indication that some brain damage has occurred. Brain damage is not a good cure for depression and other “mental illness” labels.
Until not too long ago there was a radical surgery technique that was supposed to correct “serious mental illness” by damaging the brain. This brain surgery was called a lobotomy. The outcomes of this brain surgery procedure were not pretty. The “treatment” provided by electro-shock therapy is very similar to that provided by a lobotomy. Had it not been for the development of psychiatric drugs, another questionable method of treatment, doctors might still be performing lobotomies. I suppose if such procedures were still in vogue the doctors who performed lobotomies would try to get the FDA to call surgically damaging the brain “safe.”
Brain damage, in most instances, is not to be desired. Brain damage, in fact, is a possibility to be dreaded and feared. Brain damage can seriously impair the functionality of the person who has had his or her brain so damaged. We see instances of this impairment in the cases of electro-shock survivors who have had to change careers because they were no longer capable of performing on the job at the same level as they once had performed. Devices that cause brain damage are not safe devices. If the FDA is going to approve any such brain damaging device, without testing it for safety first, maybe the FDA had just better change its name to MUD (Mutilating Utilities Department). The FDA’s word, if it should call these devices safe without testing them for safety, will have become totally unreliable. No device is made safe merely by calling it safe. Should the FDA do so, this will mean a long and hard fight for the people who know better.
Filed under: Biological Psychiatry, Brain Damage, Conflict of Interest, Electro-convulsive Shock Therapy, Ethics, Food and Drug Administration, Fraud, Investigation, Mental Health Care, Protest, Research, Violence |