Majid Ali, M.D.
An Important Proposal for People With Serious Depression and Those Who Love Them.
The Term ECT Is Needlessly Unnerving for Patients. Convulsions in the usual sense either do not occur with modern technology and methods, or are very quickly aborted in ECT units in reputable institutions. The muscular jerk-like movements are not considered to be significant clinical problems. So, the term ECT is not wholly true. It is insensitive, and misleading.
Here I propose that the term ECT (electro convulsive therapy) be replaced with the term “EBR, short for energetic brain rejuvenation”.The word convulsive needlessly terrorizes people with serious depression for whom multiple drug therapies have failed and for whom this treatment offers the best hope. For such people, the term energetic brain rejuvenation is both compassionate and meaningful.
In a companion article of this ECT ERB Series, entitled “Two Images for Depression,” I offer two images to be considered for individuals trying to decide whether or not to take ERB (integrated, expanded form of ECT.
Energy Brain Rejuvenation In Simple Words
Specifically, I helps people understand how the treatment works. In the simplest words, EBR therapy restores healthy cellular cross-talk among brain cells and abolishes: (1) chaotic and tormenting circuits of fear; (2) blinding flashes of anxiety; and (3) free falls in dark abysmal pits of depression. I explain the energetic-molecular basis of these images in Part Two of this article with text reproduced from my commentary on the subject e-published in the journal Nature (2016;539:187-96.)
Negative Effects of Energetic Brain Rejuvenation
This is an important subject and I devote a full article of this series to it.
What Is Energetic Brain Rejuvenation?
I coined the term energetic brain rejuvenation specifically for a process that brings to the brain:
1. Direct electron healing energy; and
2. Indirect healing energy from:
(a) Optimized oxygen signaling;
(b) Restored insulin homeostasis; and
(c) Enhanced immune-inflammatory dynamics.
Again, anybody who disagrees with these words is way behind his reading.
For additional subject, please see the companion article entitled What Is Energetic Brain Rejuvenation at this web site.
It is my clinical observation that medical treatments work better when patients have an authentic understanding of the true nature of their medical conditions. I introduce the term EBR (energetic brain rejuvenaation) to help people understand the real science and philosophy of brain rejuvenation in the specific context of severe depression which is refractory to multiple drug regimens. I invite readers without science background to read this article twice and then decide if it is useful. For detailed information, they can read my FREE “Dr. Ali’s Depression Course” on this web site.
I invite readers with strong science background to read Parts Two and Three to decide for themselves if the notion of energetic brain rejuvenations has strong merit.
Energy Healing of a Tormented Mind
Energy healing with appropriate technology used by well-trained professionals is the most effective treatment for serious depression that does not respond to multiple drug therapies. It was introduced in 1938 and has saved hundreds of millions of lives worldwide.
The word “convulsive” in ECT terrorizes patients who are not familiar with this form of energy healing. This is what the treatment really is, pure and simple – a completely painless use of energy to prevent hurtful cellular cross-talk among brain cells. This form of energy is intended to rejuvenate disturbed brain circuits, switching off neuronal connections that create unending cycles of fears and terror, so to speak. Below is a brief account of my early encounters with the treatment.
A Personal Perspective
In 1961, on my bicycle I took my 12-year-old sister, Majida Begum, for what was described as electric shock therapy. The treating psychiatrist asked me to firmly hold the back of her head between my hands during the treatment. On the return trips, the cycle trips were uneventful. My sister did not complain of any symptoms. We usually rode in silence. I was then a third-year medical student at King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan. In 1968, I received the diploma of the Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons, England. The memory of cycle trips with my sister receded during the remaining years in the medical college. In England as a surgeon and later in the United States as a pathologist (Columbia University, New York and Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, New Jersey), I heard the term ECT, sometimes the full term of electroconvulsive therapy, mostly with indifference. Whenever I did recall the images of my sister’s head between my hands, it was jolting, hence, I think, the indifference on most other occasions.
Shift From Study of Disease to Study of Health
In the late 1970s, my focus shifted from preoccupation with the pathology of diseases to a study of health and molecular biology of oxygen. In The Cortical Monkey and Healing (1990), I devoted large sections of the book to shapes and scales of suffering. I described how I observed people with serious depression were relentlessly tormented by the “monkey-in-the-head” to recycling past misery, and when that was not enough, precycling feared, future misery. Major depression, of course, has many other dimensions. Sometimes I imagined waves of scorpions in the mind colliding with each other chaotically. How does one plumb the depth of anguish of a young father who attempts to abandon his young children to escape those scorpions. That is not just about pebbles or concrete slabs on the chest as described by many patients.
A Revealing and Healing Conversation
Many patients with major depression not responding to multiple drug regimens ask me for advice about ECT. Our conversation proceeds something like the following:
“My psychiatrist has recommended ECT treatment. I “Im in terror of it. What do you think?” the patient asks.
“It is considered the most effective treatment for severe depression which does not respond to antidepressant drugs. I suggest an informed second opinion before you take ECT,” I reply.
“You do know what ECT is, don?t you?” the patient asks tersely.
”Yes, I do.”
”What does ECT stand for?” the patient asks rhetorically.
”ECT is short for electroconvulsive therapy,” I respond.
”Those words terrorize me,” he protests.’
”Well, well ?” I search for the right words.
”Well what? Is this what you want me to do? Convulse to get better? Is that your idea of healing?” he fires his questions with rising frustration.
I look at him in silence, wondering how I myself might react to the possibility of receiving ECT. In earlier years, I had not heard the expressions like “re-booting the brain,” and “clearing the cobwebs of the brain” for explaining how ECT works.
One day, I saw a patient who was palpably tormented by intense suffering of unrelenting depression. He engaged me in a similar conversation. I tried to plumb the depth of his suffering for some moments, then stammered, wishing to say the following:
“We can call ECT energy therapy. That is what ECT really is. It is energy that filters and re-directs cellular cross-talk in the brain. Really, that is all what ECT is – an energy therapy, just like electronic devices for pain control. It is energy that first puts you to sleep. You do not feel any pain. You wake up just as you do after sleep. Honestly, that is all what ECT is.”
As words rolled from my lips, I saw the face of patient soften somewhat. We looked at each other in silence for long moments. Encouraged I continued. This healing energy works by silencing hurtful voices in the brain, switching off cycles of fear and panic, so to speak. Obliterating deep despair of falling through black bottomless abyss of depression.
The patient looks at me intently and then takes some deep breaths. I continue. Years ago, my younger sister received this form of energy therapy. She did not complain of pain, may be a little headache sometimes. Nothing more. Honestly, nothing more. I stop. Again, we look at each other, searching for the meanings of the words.
“Energy healing, eh!” he says with doubt.
”Yes, energy therapy.?” I reply mat ter-of-factly.
”Energy healing to change cellular cross-talk in the brain, as you put it.”
”Yes. Yes. It is energy that rejuvenates the brain, in a manner of speaking.”
”It is really that simple, is it” he asks, tensing up again.
”I can complicate it if you want,” I try to lighten up the conversation. “We could call it brain re-birthing. Or may be just energy brain rejuvenation.”
The remaining text of my commentary e-published in Nature is highly technical. I present it in Part Two of this article.
Dr. Ali’s Free Depression Course
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