Letter: ECT: benefits vs side-effects; patients' testimony

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Sir: Lucy Johnstone (Letters, 14 December) writes as a clinical psychologist who is anxious to expose ECT 'as the primitive and damaging procedure it is'. The implication is that one is faced with a straightforward choice between two alternatives. Either a physical treatment whose efficacy is doubtful; or the kind of exploration and self-understanding that a clinical psychologist can facilitate. Often though it is both/and rather than either/or.

On more than one occasion in my life the intervention of ECT has been beneficial and not damaging. That initial help given, it's been all the more possible to gain from the skills and the patience of a clinical psychologist.

It is true that ECT should not be used to excess; and it is true that usually more than ECT is needed. But the different therapies and treatments can and should be seen as complementary, rather than in competition.

Yours sincerely,




14 December