Saturday, December 22, 2012

One flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

Recently as a part of Talkeez Film Club in Pune, we together saw the movie One flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. This movie released in 1975 and it brings out the inhuman approach in treating psychiatric patients in USA in the sixties and seventies. On the one hand this movie brought out the need to change our approach in treating psychiatric patients but on the other it created a fear among people about the use of ECT (Electroconculsive Therapy). A lot has changed since the seventies and psychiatric healing is no longer as it has been depicted in the movie.

Our psychiatrist friend Dharav Shah has written the following mail to remove the misconceptions about ECT.

Dear friends,
as a psychiatrist, one of our job is to remove the misconceptions about ECTs. The way ECTs are portrayed in the above film, is bound to give rise to negative attitude towards ECTs and so I thought i will clarify. The film portrays well what was being practised in the past and may have played a huge role in making the practice of psychiatry more humane. But a screening of the film today, can give rise to false notions that this is what is still happening in mental hospitals. What is shown in the film is something which was being practised more than 35 years ago. The asylums were places where patients were dumped from where they never returned. Where as current day psychiatry is mainly hospital or OPD based, where aim is towards helping patient get back in main stream.
The way ECTs are given has changed a great deal. A lot of research has happened into making in painless and safer. The typical way ECTs are depicted in TV/films as a torture technique is absolutely bull shit. It is a painless procedure, and never used as a method of punishment in today's practise. Besides, when given in the right method, it does not impair brain's functioning but improves it. It doesnt turn human being into a vegetable; but people who had become vegetative into functional human beings.
But because of misconceptions many people refuse ECTs. For a patient with suicidal tendencies , this can mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a patient with a cardiac arrest who can get saved by a cardiac shock, but due to misconceptions is denied the procedure. Similarly, many patients are deprived of the miraculous healing power of ECTs because of misconceptions about it. Hence it thought of clarifying.  You can write back if you have any doubts...

-Dharav Shah
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