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Electroconvulsive Therapy: The Full Strip
Yellow head
Here then is the completed 11 page story strip on ECT. As ever feel free to make comments and point out any errors. I received help with this one from a LJ writer who let me use a few comments. Thanks to that person (you know who you are). Now read on...


Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive Therapy

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I cant remember ever hearing of ECT without the transorbital lobotomy being brought up in the same breath. The impression seems to be that both are procedures that leave a patient a drooling good-natured semi-vegetable for the rest of their lives.

On a brighter note, I felt a sort of joy upon reading your measurement of the power of ECT shocks listed in terms of ampres. For some reason--and secretly I blame local company TASER International, Inc. who aggressively markets electrotorture devices to law enforcement the world over--the vast majority of people of a non-technical mindset (like myself, but come on I know the proper units at least) are obsessed with voltage as the strength of an electrical current. Tasers, heavily marketed in the US, always make a big deal of a model's voltage, of course. They probably do this to show off that you can still attack someone in a winter coat with a TASER, at high voltages the electrodes will arc right through heavy clothing, but it doesn't really express the power of the shock. Given the presumably controlled nature of ECT I imagine the voltage is relatively low compared to a TASER. Which sort of makes me wonder if that wouldn't be a good angle to take on the rampant instances of police brutality with the devices.

I don't know where you have heard of ECT in comparison to the transorbital lobotomy, but all of the people I have met who have had ECT have maintained their normal intellectual and personality functioning, just in many cases with the depression lifted.

Another brutal procedure is the insulin therapy which induce a diabetic coma to the patient by injecting just the right amount of insulin into his system. It has the same "reset" effect but without the brain damage ECT induces. I think insulin therapy is still used on a wide scale in several countries.
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Great strip, I particularly like the use of colour in this one. Nice work.

Your comics are really beautiful and very informative.

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Awesome. I love the way you portray the public view of ECT throughout the last few pages.

It sounds as if medicine is focusing it's work on treating those suffering from less severe cases of depression (with various anti-depressants) and as a consequence those in more severe circumstances are left with one option, ECT. You are absolutely right though, there HAS to be another way.

I like the conversation and how you address each of the points.

I was thinking as I read that LJer's account, you should just illustrate what he wrote, and I'm glad that you did. Interesting remarks on the similarity with epilepsy. The state a seizure leaves the sufferer with is profoundly isolating and containing a great sense of loss and need for love. I can't imagine what would be good about that. Then again, I know there are far worse feelings that mental illness sufferers experience and I'm glad to be rid of mine.
I've just turned out a comic about epilepsy. I'd plug it here but I guess you'll check in with it. Enjoy the spotlight, Mr. Cunningham, you've earned it!

I particularly like the use of mixed media. Most comics should be like this.

I was linked here from someone else's livejournal. I just wanted to tell you that I read all your comics about mental illness in one go, and I really liked them. You have a compassionate insight and a great way of explaining things.

Thanks for doing them. :)

That's a fabulous comic! I know someone who's recently gone through a course of ECT treatment with great success. It is often (in not always) a treatment of last resort, as the effects are uncertain and irreversible. I love the way you impressed that the vast majority of those who undergo treatment do so with informed consent of the nature of the treatment along with the potential risks and rewards. As you rightly pointed out, the Amperages used these days are a fraction of those used when ECT was in its infancy.

The brain and the mind have been the subject of intense study by psychologists, neurologists and so forth for many years; even now, there is far less understood than is still unknown about the human mind, it's biochemistry, the neurology involved and the pharmacokinetics of those drugs used to to try to help those with mental illnesses. Use of antidepressants, antipsychotics and, yes, ECT, is very much still trial-and-error until something is found that helps the patient.

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