A recent story in the Queensland, Australia, newspaper Sunday Mail revealed that a convicted killer in is being given electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy. Apparently he is accompanied by riot squad officers when he goes for treatment. The news comes soon after the publication in the November issue of the journal Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health of an article by a group of Danish psychiatrists entitled “The use of electroconvulsive therapy in a cohort of forensic psychiatric patients with schizophrenia”. The article, according to the abstract, looked at 8 forensic patients with schizophrenia and agressive behaviour. The authors were pleased with the results:
“All but one of these patients had an excellent or good symptomatic and behavioural response to ECT. Half (four) went on to maintenance ECT. No adverse effects were documented”.
The article concluded:
“ECT is rarely used in specialist secure services, but should not be forgotten as a treatment that may enable medication-resistant, assaultive psychotic patients to progress safely out to the community.”
It is a reminder that, although in Western countries the majority of ECT patients are being treated for depression, ECT still has other uses.