Thursday, 28 February 2013

the plan to increase brain surgery for mental illness in Scotland

Since 2006 there have been 260 referrals for treatment at the Dundee Advanced Interventions Service at Ninewells Hospital which specialises in anterior cingulotomies or brain surgery for mental illness.  Of these referrals, 108 were men, 152 women, as usual women in psychiatry being targeted for special treatment.

According to the most recent DAIS report the mean age was 47yrs with a spread of ages from 18 to 84.  In other words any of us might be a candidate for this irreversible surgery if we had 'treatment refractory' depression or OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder.  And had been tried on a range of psychiatric drugs and courses of ECT/shock treatment.

The latest DAIS annual report summary and conclusions on p8 states: "Neurosurgical activity in 2011/12 continues to be variable but it is recognised that clinical activity varies from one year to the next and is dependent upon the nature of the patients referred. We believe that there remain considerable numbers of patients with unmet needs and we are keen to ensure that they have the opportunity to be referred to the service."  (bolding is mine)

You've got to admire the zeal with which the team at DAIS believe they are doing the right thing in promoting this cutting edge treatment.  Destroying brain tissue that is to do with feelings although it isn't a cure and the patient will likely have to look forward to further psychiatric treatment.  [see Mind website on 'Making sense of neurosurgery for mental disorder']

Of course it may be that some people like having the attention of psychiatrists whatever the outcome.  I find this to be a mystery and nothing to do with my experience of psychiatry since 1970 when I first visited my mother in Kinnoull ward at Murray Royal Hospital.  And saw many distressed women all locked in together.  I came away from visiting in tears.

My mother had been forcibly given many courses of ECT/shock treatment in the 50's and 60's so eventually agreed to a lifelong depixol injection every 3wks until her death in 1998, aged 68, before her time.  A vulnerable woman agreeing to forced treatment so that she wouldn't be locked up in a psychiatric hospital and given more horrendous treatment against her will.  

There is no excuse for it, in my opinion.  My mother was a gentle woman who didn't deserve this sort of treatment and force used against her.  Therefore I have never believed psychiatry and think it to be a religion, a belief system, one that I am not prepared to accept or follow.  And I will continue to resist the use of force and of invasive treatment in psychiatry. 


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