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China Bans Shock Treatment For Internet Addiction 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-put-down-the-mouse dept.
angry tapir writes "China has banned the use of shock therapy to treat Internet addiction after its use at one hospital sparked nationwide controversy. The hospital drew wide media coverage in recent months after Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums about being tied down and subjected to shocks for 30 minutes at a time."

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China Bans Shock Treatment For Internet Addiction

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  • Damn it (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:18AM (#28704485) Journal

    Nothing gave me more pleasure that thinking of WOW power levelers with electrodes attached to various body parts.

  • its use at one hospital sparked nationwide controversy.

    Does China even have such a thing as "nationwide controvery"? Or is the "nation" here the United States? Or maybe Canada?

  • "Some Chinese medical experts still believe shock treatment for Internet addiction does not harm children, but the majority disavow it, said Tao Ran, the founder of a Beijing treatment center Web-addicted teens, during a recent interview."

    Sure, as long as you're only worried about their physical health, I'm sure it doesn't... Too bad it scars them for life mentally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      First and foremost, there's two kinds of electro-shock therapy. One is simple aversion therapy, putting the person in front of the computer and when they try to open the browser a painful shock is given. That doesn't sound like what they are trying to accomplish here so I'll assume that it is the second kind, the kind which actually tries to change the way a person thinks and feels about memories.

      Done correctly there's nothing inherently wrong with that kind of shock therapy, it's even made something of a

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        Tricking your child into going to a 'hospital' where they tie the child down and shock them for 30 minutes at a time... There's no way that doesn't leave mental scars.

        • Why would you need to trick the child to go anywhere? Just give him/her two nails and leave alone in a room with a 220V outlet.

        • That parents have to deceive their kids. Then, it's a social ill that some of these games actually replace other outlets.

          I first read about this last week, on the 9th (no, i never bothered submitting, because nothing i ever suggested for submission gets posted by /.)

          http://www.itworld.com/internet/70777/chinese-web-addicts-get-boot-camp-therapy [itworld.com]

          Personally, though, i think some form of boot camp needs to be here in the US, but not just for gaming. LOTS of anti-social behaviors could be addressed. At least for

          • by mdwh2 (535323)

            Yeah, let's treat their desire for fictional war games by teaching them how to fight for real. And let's help their social skills, by making them not talk while someone yells in their face.

            Playing a game isn't anti-social, btw, you presumably mean "unsociable", and I hope you include "watching TV", "reading a book" and "sitting at home quietly with a cup of tea" as similar "unsociable" activities. OTOH, teenagers who go out to the pub every night are doing fine...

            For actual anti-social behaviours, I believe

      • by GungaDan (195739) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @12:09PM (#28705169) Homepage

        The most prevalent "shock therapy" currently in use in the US is electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). It is used to treat major depression that is not responsive to drugs. It has nothing to do with retrieving or "erasing" memories, only with zapping the brain in hopes that neurochemical imbalances will be alleviated during its recovery from the trauma (shock), and hopefully for some time after.

        • by BabyDuckHat (1503839) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:55PM (#28708159)
          Which is evidence that, when it come to the mind, we're still just cavemen bashing things with rocks.
          • by Lotana (842533)

            What is your alternative to treating such a severe depression that we have no other means for? Just do nothing and let them kill themselves? Lobotomy? Euthanize them?

            Depression ranks as one of the most horrific ailment I can think of. Even if there is some small chance to help those patients, then we should do all we can. It might be crude, it probably does quite a bit of damage that will affect quality of life later, but it is a hell of a lot better than the alternative. I know that if I had a condition li

            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              babyduckhat didn't say that it was wrong to use the tool if it works, just that it was equivalent to bashing things with rocks. It shouldn't be news that bashing things with rocks works. I've bashed things with rocks as an alternative to a hammer when none was available and I needed to hammer a nail, or break things open that I might have otherwise sawed open etc. My sister once used a rock as an alternative to her car keys. It's not the ideal way to get the car door open, but it works. You just have to rep

      • I know I'm probably prejudiced but electro-shock therapy sounds too much like torture to me. Maybe it's because it has been used as torture in the past, maybe it's because it had the effect of being torture even if the therapy sort of worked, or maybe it's just because there are too many guys I've met online who wanted me to do that to them. Let's just say I have an aversion to it. I have PTSD and tend to suffer from depression and I am currently going for treatment, but I'll have to say no to electro-shock
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        >>The idea is that you shock the brain while it is remembering the dramatic memory, cuasing the brain to either fail to store the >>memory or to store the memory without the emotional content.

        What a load of crap. This is not how it's done. ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) is done while the patient is asleep. Nothing to do with shocking the brain during specific memories.

        As an aside, amnesia is a common side effect of ECT. I should know, I've lost 9 months of memories from a few years back du

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by EricTheMad (603880)
        The biggest problem here is that it was used as a form of punishment. It was basically torture, not therapy.

        http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-07/14/content_8426874.htm [chinadaily.com.cn]

        According to the Guangdong-based Information Times, shocks were given if patients broke any of the center's 86 rules, which included prohibitions on eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal, and sitting in Dr. Yang's chair without permission.

      • Indeed.

        Electro Convulsive Therapy relies on inducing a siezure via small electric currents through the brain. There is no benefit to shocking someone for 30 minutes: the seizure can be induced in seconds. Furthermore, the patient does not need to be awake (and indeed it is better not to be awake, as anasthetic and paralytic drugs will take care of the unpleasant effects of the seizure).

        So either China's psychiatry is in the dark ages, "shock therapy" is misinterpreted, or the bloggers are full of

      • by sjames (1099)

        I wouldn't say there's nothing wrong with it. It's effects are fully identical to a closed skull head trauma (literally, it's just like being knocked unconscious with a bat). As a very last resort in sufficiently serious cases it might be better than no treatment at allbut I wouldn't say there's nothing wrong with it.

  • pic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Canazza (1428553) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:25AM (#28704563)

    Honestly, this seems like another human rights abuse... people should have the right to choose if they want to go through shock therapy!

    but did we really require the big pic there?

    • Re:pic (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hope Thelps (322083) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:34AM (#28704677)

      Honestly, this seems like another human rights abuse... people should have the right to choose if they want to go through shock therapy!

      The right to an informed choice. But can someone in the throes of internet addiction really be said to be making a choice? This is why we keep shocking 'em until they consent to it. That's the begining of the path to recovery.

      • well, they are more likely to have done extensive research on their own about it...

      • Re:pic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Psyborgue (699890) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @12:52PM (#28705849) Homepage Journal
        You're modded funny by some people actually think that way, and not just about internet addiction, but pretty much anything deemed "undesireable" by society at large. Nails that stick out get nailed down, as they say... so be a good polite model citizen and you won't get "re-educated". This is hardly unique to china. Forced treatment exists in the US too, especially with teenagers.
    • by Dunbal (464142)

      people should have the right to choose if they want to go through shock therapy!

      Yes, just like you get to choose the duration of your sentence, your cell mate, and the color of your cell when you commit a crime in your country. /sarcasm

      I'm not defending China for this (they themselves seem to be upset at the practice), but laws are different everywhere and if you commit a "crime", you have to pay the price, be it getting your ass caned, shocked or in the case of t

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrCrassic (994046)
      This kind of reminds me of an article I read some time ago in the Wall Street Journal regarding how mental illness is treated in China. Parents that can't afford healthcare for their mentally-ill children lock them up in cages, while some that can have been duped to going to hospitals for treatment, only to scar (or nearly kill) their children even further and be completely, shit-out-of-luck broke. One of these operations involved removing parts of the patient's brain outright.

      I wish I could find these a
  • For those of you who have never seen this movie (am I really that old? ) this scene involved Bill Murray's character administering shock treatments as negative reinforcement when the test subject was unable to guess what was printed on the other side of a card he held up.

    He tests some poor schmoe who gets close to half of them right, but he gets shocked on every card anyway.

    Then he tests a potential future girlfriend and never shocks her at all, even though she misses every card.

    Shock therapy as a
    • by maeka (518272)

      if only the shocks being talked about in this story were so mild, and so harmlessly administered.

    • by Utini420 (444935) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:36AM (#28704693)

      Everyone brings up that scene as if Vaikman was messing up his experiment just to flirt with the chick, but that ignores his true brilliance. Sure, he fudges the test for her -- she clearly is not psychic, she's just there as a control, so it really doesn't matter if she ever gets shocked or not. It isn't like he's testing electrocution of normal folks. But as for the guy, how is seemingly shocked for giving the right answers -- that's the whole experiment. Vaikman even says so: "I'm studying the effects of negative reinforcement on ESP ability." In other words, will you keep being psychic even if you get electrocuted for it.

      • by Hyppy (74366)
        I have never before put that much thought into a scene from Ghostbusters, nor will I ever again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by damontal (806788)
        I just watched it again and they're both getting the answers wrong. only the girl isn't being shocked, whereas the guy is. the only one he gets correct is the last one (a couple of squiggly lines) before freaking out and leaving.
      • But as for the guy, how is seemingly shocked for giving the right answers -- that's the whole experiment. Vaikman even says so: "I'm studying the effects of negative reinforcement on ESP ability." In other words, will you keep being psychic even if you get electrocuted for it.

        Technically, he's studying the effect of

        punishment on ESP ability. Punishment and negative reinforcement are two different things.

        But anyway, I still look at it differently. I think the test of ESP is not "can you percieve what is on the card" but rather, "can you percieve that the experimentor is fucking with you?"

        In which case, I'd posit that he passed.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:27AM (#28704581) Homepage

    In other news... "Internet addicts treated with electricity". The real story here is that this is there to be banned in the first place.

  • suspicious (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is this to cure internet addiction or a reason to punish those that bypassed chinas censorship... hmmmm

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used in psychiatric settings here in the West, patients are completely unconscious and pumped full of muscle relaxants to keep them from jumping all over the table. Since they're unconscious, they feel no pain.. completely different from what the Chinese seem to be doing, which seeks to use electric shock as painful punishment for too much WOW.
    Needless to say, I didn't RTFA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Psyborgue (699890)
      This isn't ECT. This appears to be aversion therapy. Just because it's done wrong and the shocking last long doesn't make it any different. The same has happened at Judge Rotenberg Center [motherjones.com] in the United States where a slightly more brutal form is used (kids permanently strapped to devices triggered by remote control).
    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      I have a friend who went through ECT for severe depression. Given she was sectioned into a psychiatric hospital by her parents without consent, I'd be hard pressed to say her ECT was with informed consent, or even if it was overall a positive force in her life, the side effects have been pretty traumatic for her. Not to mention the effect it had on her realitionship with her family.

      She was over 21 when she was committed, with a university degree and had been holding down a job as webmaster for a Teir 1 bank

  • The hospital drew wide media coverage in recent months after Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums

    So the internet addicted patients used the internet to complain about the problems with the internet addiction treatment?

    • by Niris (1443675)
      Yeah I was thinking that too. Wonder how much of the treatment they received though, and if they got anything other than shock therapy other than cuddle/talking time. Shock therapy as a whole seems like bullshit to me though, like those damn Rorschach ink blots that were slashdotted yesterday.
    • The treatment is *clearly* not effective.
  • Quacks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Demonantis (1340557) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:36AM (#28704691)
    That is not shock treatment. The currently accepted method of shock therapy is designed to treat epilepsy. They were using it for negative reinforcement. Its just as effective as torturing someone. This is definitely a human rights violation and the genius behind this should be punished.
  • I don't believe the story. Sounds too silly and arbitrary

    Stephan

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      If it goes on the the US [motherjones.com] it can certainly go on in the United States.
      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        doh!! I meant "can certainly go on in China". Where is the edit button when you need it.
        • Typo or no typo, edit button or no edit button; if it goes on in the US, the story can certainly also be made up in the US.

          Stephan

          • by Psyborgue (699890)
            Either you're hopelessly naive and have too much faith in society of you have a kid in a program (WWASP, perhaps?). Abuse can happen in any program in any country. The above referenced article and others on this particular program are very well source. One kid was shocked several thousand times in a single day. In another case, another kid was shocked as a result of a prank call into the facility in which a person posed as a staff and ordered the shocks. There was video tape of these things happening u
            • I'm not questioning what happens in the US. I'm questioning the story about "China's internet addicts".

              In fact, I have heared of such programs carried out by medical doctors (as you linked to http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/08/school-shock [motherjones.com]), but curiously only in connection with the USA. Do you have references for other countries?

              Stephan

              • by Psyborgue (699890)
                There is one in Canada [www.cbc.ca], not with shock therapy, but with cult like tactics that came from the united states. I'm American and I have nothing against the US, but the whole "addiction treatment for teens" trend originated and became popular in the US. It stands to reason most of the programs are US based. Sure there have been thousands of documented instances of severe abuse and even death but for the most part the state does nothing because it's seen as somehow a "necessary evil". I don't doubt that it c
              • by Psyborgue (699890)
                There are also several US based programs overseas owned by WWASP. They're so bad the US Dept of State has put out warnings about them but unfortunately the us govt has no jurisdiction since the abuse takes place off us soil. Google "paradise cove samoa" or "tranquility bay".
  • ...Ours go to 11 amps.

    This seems like a great way to create psychological maladjustment.

    Presuming, of course, you do not already consider "internet addiction" to be maladjustment.
  • I wonder if the symptoms of "internet addiction" the authorities look for include 'seeking inaccurate information' from 'undesirable sites' or possibly 'spreading rumours' or 'inciting unrest'?
    • by Beerdood (1451859)
      Most likely. On a similar note, it's interesting how in 50+ years of television, there is virtually no concept of television addiction (compare Television Addiction [wikipedia.org] to Internet Addiction [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia). If kids are spending 30 hours a week watching corporate, main stream media there's no problem. But if these kids spend that same amount of time not being bombarded by advertisements playing WoW, or if there's a chance they're reading "liberal propaganda" or un-godly sites, well that's an addiction. Better
      • Most likely. On a similar note, it's interesting how in 50+ years of television, there is virtually no concept of television addiction (compare Television Addiction [wikipedia.org] to Internet Addiction [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia).

        I disagree. Until the Internet became popular, "concerned groups" were always banging on about children getting "square eyes" from watching too much TV, and still there is the meme of the "couch potato", watching TV all the time and becoming a fat, lazy slob; a drain on society. Note how someone who sits reading books is not stereotyped in this way.
        I'm not surprised that Wikipedia has more material about "Internet Addiction"; after all it is a website, maintained by people with a keen interest in such matt

  • Why didn't they just randomly replace images requested by the "addict"'s computer with goatse?

    That's a shock therapy that would actually work.

    • That was my first thought too- "Shock therapy" as in electrocution, or shock therapy as in repeated viewings of goatse&friends - and I agree with parent- that would work better... There are MANY sites that are pretty darn effective at wanting to unplug your PC permanently and curl up in a corner.
  • Now that this is banned, where will those parents send those kids to treat this "disorder"? How long before Pfizer creates Zinternex - a new drug used to help combat internet addiction? (Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, anal leakage, acne, etc... etc...)
  • after Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums about being tied down and subjected to shocks for 30 minutes at a time

    Wow. There's a shock. Not only was it unethical; it was also ineffective.

  • ... the therapy was banned because it didn't work, as after 30 minutes of shock, the pacients ran to write about it in INTERNET forums and blogs.
  • Here I thought China was all about old school alternative medicines like acupuncture and the like. Electro shock treatments seem barbaric in my mind. No ancient chinese remedy for you internet addicts round here. We shock you!
  • Since the once child per family policy I'd imagine that children are pressured a lot to be successful in their studies, and is important enough for parents to shock their kids out of Wow so they can study more. I think this is a sign of changing times in china to a more modern social landscape, where internet use is widespread. The parents in China who send their kids to get shock treatments in this article probably never had access to internet or computers in their teens so they don't understand why thei
  • ...after Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums about being tied down and subjected to shocks for 30 minutes at a time."

    They received electric shocks for Internet addiction, and then rushed right out to blog about it?

    I'd say that's a pretty good indication that their condition is hopeless.....

  • World of Warcraft addiction is now no longer treated with shock therapy. More severe cases of internet abuse, such as an addiction to writing overly uppity blog entries, on the other hand...

  • In other news Hospital in Shandong ceases shock treatments for Internet Addiction, due to ban, starts performing full frontal Lobotomies [wikipedia.org] instead, claims the procedure is 98% effective at quashing internet addictions.

  • Too bad it is still legal to Electroshock 6 year olds, here in the US. There is a lot of profit in it.
  • Internet users claiming to have received the treatment wrote in blogs and forums

    Doesn't seem to have been an effective treatment then, does it =P

  • Surveys of legislators and health insurance industry personnel in the United States reveal an appalling level of misinformation about electroshock. Deceived by psychiatry's propaganda machine, the majority are content to leave it up to the "experts." While openly admitting that they have no idea how Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) works, psychiatrists have no trouble in arrogantly assuming the mantle of "expert." But who are the real victims and what is the real cost? With the hundreds of thousands of peo

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