ECT is rarely mentioned without One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest being referred to. For many of us that movie perhaps the only contact we’ve ever had with the mental health system. McMurphy’s story is a memorable one of an archetypal struggle of an individual against the establishment – it taps into a shared fear of being unable to exercise self-determination. Not having control.
The image of shock therapy was reportedly changed by the movie, ‘tarnished’ this report says. There is no denying that ECT, or shock therapy, is frightening. Having an electric current flood your brain is frightening, even those of us who haven’t seen the movie might imagine the treatment barbaric.
The song is the title track from Shock Treatment, the sequel to the The Rock Horror Picture Show. My brother gave it to me as a single years ago, in a time when I didn’t realise ECT was offered as a therapy for depression. The clip highlights a problem with the portrayal of ECT in that it is invariably depicted as an involuntary treatment. Note the caged person in the clip and recall the callous institution shown in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Thanks to the movies, we know ECT as something one is subjected to and it is shown as more brutal than I believe it might be. Still I can’t say I would undergo this treatment, I am most likely to opt for talk therapy over physical treatments – if the choice is mine to make. I very firmly believe ECT should not be administered on anybody being held as an involuntary patient.
Tonight is Halloween that’s why I am reflecting on scary things.