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A professor shares how the controversial method of Electroshock therapy may save those beyond the rescue of traditional medicine.

For many, the idea of being strapped to a table with electrodes applied to their temples stirs up the very deepest of nightmares. For Professor George Kirov, the method of Electroconvulsive therapy, better known as Electroshock therapy or ECT, is a saving grace in some of the most horrifying cases of patients tormented by their own brains. The new book Shocked compiles not the dry statistics of a scientific paper, but rather the true stories of several patients that Professor Kirov observed first hand.

Rest assured, the stories in this book are carefully written with identifying factors removed. The severely ill patients of this book suffered from elaborate delusions, attempted strangely creative suicide methods, and even suffered from catatonia that refused to let them go. Kirov is careful to remind the reader that medicine, especially in the National Health Service, does not immediately go to the ECT method. Rather, the therapy is highly regulated and often used only as a last resort. Often, even those wishing attempt the treatment are monitored heavily and restricted to only a couple sessions a week for their own safety. For the patients in this book it was often either ECT or death at their own hands that remained as their only choices.

While Kirov does show the incredible benefits to those who have been deemed hopeless by traditional medicine, he is also careful to point out that sometimes a 12 procedure system doesn't provide permanent results. Still, the treatment shows promising changes in the way the brain is wired by creating small shocks that lead to a seizure event. Shocked does tend to use terms more often reserved for medicine, so the reader will not feel like they are being talked down to, but rather being included in the review of promising case studies. It feels more like having a detailed conversation with a friend, rather than reading a highly charged (no pun intended) article that vilifies the treatment. Shocked does an excellent job of demystifying ECT for the truly curious.

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About the author

George Kirov works at Cardiff University and conducts research in psychiatric genetics. In his clinical work he is the lead psychiatrist in the local ECT Unit. He has collected the more striking stories of patients treated at his clinic, in an attempt to de-mystify this treatment. view profile

Published on April 24, 2020

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70000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Psychology

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