Iraq and ECT, together in the same post

I was looking through PicApp‘s archives and found this news photo:
[picapp src=”9/6/8/6/Iraq_Violence_Takes_349d.jpg?adImageId=5072664&imageId=2471042″ width=”380″ height=”246″ /]

Here’s the accompanying caption:
BAGHDAD, IRAQ – NOVEMBER 17: A mentally disturbed Iraqi patient receives electrical shocks (ETC) in a private clinic on November 17, 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq. The continuing violence in Iraq is taking its toll on the mental health of civilians, yet the facilities for treatment do not exist beyond crude remedies such as confinement or ECT (Electric Convulsive Therapy). (Photo by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/Getty Images).

Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.

In case you didn’t notice, the caption called ECT a crude remedy (and it’s not “electric convulsive therapy”). Okay, I get that ECT doesn’t come in a form of  easy-to-swallow capsules; it is not a treatment that can be easily touted in magazine ads, like all those medications that are on the market (an image of the Zoloft ball receiving ECT just came across my head…). The point of this photo probably was to capture the shortage of mental health care in Iraq. But to refer to ECT as “crude” simply displays the author’s utter ignorance, and because of such inaccurate information about ECT that is spread through the media, the general public is given a “fact” and an accompanying image that ECT is indeed “crude.” I agree that this photo shows that the treatment is being given with the most rudimentary equipment, but ECT as a medical procedure is a carefully calibrated operation.  The thing is, any medical procedure can be performed in a crude manner, but somehow procedures that might involve cutting open of a person’s chest cavity are not considered so outdated.

Telling others about ECT does not come easily; in fact, it’s usually uncomfortable. But such image and caption about ECT just make it harder to talk about it, already having to wade through people’s inaccurate perceptions. It would’ve taken the author seconds on the internet to find out that ECT is a contemporary treatment that has evolved tremendously as new medical technologies came to form. I am glad that some news bureau has taken the time to report on the mental health of the Iraqis as this war continues on, but please be accurate about all information that are being reported.

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