Electroconvulsive therapy and the fear of deviance

After reaching the verge of obsolescence, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is once again on the increase. There remains, however, no sound theoretical basis for its use. By 1948 at least 50 different theories had been proposed to account for the workings of ECT. Today there are numerous more. Further, there is no good evidence for its therapeutic effectiveness. Although some studies show what are claimed to be positive results, others show significant amount of relapse, even with severe depression (the disorder against which ECT is supposed to be most effective), while even other studies show ECT to have little more effect than a placebo. Finally, there is much evidence for ECTs damaging effects, particularly to cognitive functioning like memory, general intelligence level, and perceptual abilities, and quite possibly to brain functioning. Some studies even suggest that the alleged therapeutic effects of ECT are essentially the effects of organic brain damage. The question, then, is why, despite these problems, does ECT continue to be used? ECTs salient features suggest an answer here. These are the features of dehumanization, power, control, punishment, and others, all of which can be traced back to the fear of deviant psychotic behavior.
Keywords electroconvulsive therapy  deviance  psychotic behaviour  dehumanization  brain damage  memory loss
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DOI 10.1111/1468-5914.00176
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John Perry (ed.) (1975). Personal Identity. University of California Press.
Albert Camus (1957). The Myth of Sisyphus. Philosophical Review 66 (1):104-107.

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