Kitty Dukakis has battled disabling depression for more than 20 years. Coupled with drug and alcohol addictions that both hid and fueled her suffering, Kitty's despair was overwhelming. She tried every medication and treatment available; none worked for long. It wasn't until she got electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, that she could reclaim her life.
Kitty's dramatic first-person account of how ECT keeps at bay her illness is half the story of Shock. The other half, by award-winning medical reporter Larry Tye, is a captivating look at the science behind ECT and its dramatic yet subterranean comeback. Far from the grisly process that inspired films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and fostered a stigma that still persists, today's ECT is fast, safe, and presents a better prospect for relieving severe depression than even the best antidepressants or the sagest psychotherapist. And it is not just depression: ECT has an enviable success rate for a series of other debilitating mental conditions.
Shock looks at ECT's full picture, analyzing the treatment's risks along with its benefits. The book considers memory loss and other complications that have kept electroconvulsive therapy under a cloud of controversy, and it explores refinements that can minimize that loss if not defuse the controversy. ECT, it turns out, is neither a panacea nor a scourge, but a serious option for treating life-threatening ailments. Through Kitty Dukakis's moving account, and interviews with more than 100 other ECT patients, Shock separates scare from promise, real complications from lurid headlines. In the process it offers practical guidance to prospective patients and their families on whether ECT can help them battle depression, bipolar disorder, and other disabling mental diseases.