Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Electro-Shock Therapy - link to talk.
Sherwin Nuland, the surgeon and author, talks about the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression. Midway through, his story turns personal. It's a moving and deeply felt talk about relief, redemption, second chances.

In the middle 70s, as a student, I observed someone receiving electro-shock therapy. I remember the wall in the room being cold and pressing my body up against it so I wouldn't faint. As a young woman, it was very terrifying to see someone put to sleep and have their muscles temporarily paralyzed thereby losing the ability to say "Stop. I change my mind. I don't want to go through with this." Although no one knew for certain why this treatment might work for depression, it was thought that it worked by making the painful memories inaccessible.

Scott Young posted on this talk because of Nuland's use of a trigger phrase to stop his compulsive thinking and redirect his thoughts in a more productive manner. In his case,"Oh fuck it" was the magic phrase that allowed him to quickly move past a discouragement and concentrate on his positive goals.

I had rather imagined it to be like the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" but for Nuland it was a second beginning.

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