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Electroshock: The Gentleman’s Way to Batter Women  

Author:  Bonnie  Burstow, Ph.D..

Source: Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 2012 , pp.267-285(19)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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From the perspective of most adherents to the medical model of psychiatry, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective treatment for severe and intractable depression. Among biologically based psychiatrists and other mental professionals, ECT is generally (although not universally) considered a valid, although relatively invasive, option for the treatment of major depression when all else has failed, especially when a patient is actively suicidal. Despite popular misconceptions, and barbaric as it might seem, ECT is still widely in use. What non-psychiatrists and others who’ve never witnessed it may not know is that there are striking parallels between women’s experiences with ECT and with being battered by an intimate partner. As depicted by Dr. Burstow in this article, ECT, a procedure done primarily to women, primarily by men, can be also be wielded as a methodology for maintaining control over women.

Keywords: Brain damage; cognitive impairment; punishment and control

Affiliations:  1: University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

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