Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is a cunning punishment devised for the mentally disordered that enjoyed a spell of widespread popularity in the middle of the twentieth century, and is *still* administered to 12000 patients in the UK every year. Patients are strapped to a couch with electrodes attached to either temple. A 100 volt belt of electricity is then zapped through their brain, straightening out their mentally disordered wiring and making them better again, after they’ve convulsed a bit. Anyone who’s seen One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest will know that it’s an ace film based on the book that Ken Kesey ever wrote in which a basically sane but slightly unruly Irish American called Randall McMurphy gets banged up in a mental hospital and there’s his friend called ‘Big Chief Broom’ who’s a big chief in the Indians and he never speaks but sweeps the floor all day even though it’s clean already (nowadays of course they wouldn’t be able to say ‘Indians’ because Native Americans are not from India, in exactly the same way as the Innuits are not from Esquim, and Mr. Broom should probably more properly be addressed as ‘Tribal Affairs Co-ordinator’ or something, but this was back in the seventies when life was a lot simpler, but probably no less fair to minorities). The inmates have to take drugs, but McMurphy doesn’t, he only pretends to take them and spits them out later. He also says he’s going to put a betsy bug up the butt of nurse Ratched in charge because she’s such a manipulative control-freak who wants the patients to remain passive and obedient to her many wicked whims. Anyway they play basketball which Chief Broom doesn’t really know how to do because they don’t do that in the Indians, but because he’s so tall McMurphy just gives him the ball which he holds up in the air and walks from one end of the court to the other with and puts in the net and scores a goal without really trying. And one day they steal a bus and go on a fishing trip in a stolen motor launch which is very funny, and McMurphy teaches them all how to bait hooks and steer the boat so he can go down below and do some canoeing with this lissome babe who came along except it wasn’t canoeing, it was canoodling, (I was still thinking about the Indians). Then when they nearly get found out they have to pretend the inmates are all very eminent doctors, which they’re not of course otherwise they’d be able to cure each other with electroconvulsions. Later on when he’s waiting for some electro- “therapy” of his own McMurphy gives Chief Broom some chewing gum, and Chief Broom says ‘Thank-you’ and ‘Juicy Fruit’ (because they have both good manners and that particular brand in the Indians). McMurphy thinks this is really neat because Chief Broom really could speak all along, and probably chew gum too, and later he holds a party with some good time girls he’s smuggled in, and young Billy Bibbit gets some oats but has to kill himself because he gets in such bad trouble with the nurse who makes him feel very guilty, so McMurphy has to attack the nurse so badly that he ends up having a frontal lobotomy which makes him go soft in the head so Big Chief Broom smothers the unruly Irish American with a pillow and kills him dead (which even Native Americans aren’t supposed to do in this day and age). Had he used a different item of bed coverage, he could have been convicted of mattresside and been killed dead by the American government (who, unlike the Native Americans, ARE allowed to do that sort of thing in this day and age). So Chief Broom throws the washstand right through the window and out of building and strides off towards the mountains happily ever after without the slightest regard for the other inmates who won’t be able to clean their teeth at bedtime as a result of his wanton vandalism.
ECT is *still* administered to 12000 patients in the UK every year. Yes, I know I’ve repeated that sentence. And I’ll repeat it again: is ECT *still* administered to 12000 patients in the UK every year.