China bans shock treatment for Internet addiction

Bloggers had written about being tied down and shocked for 30 minutes at a time at one hospital

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.

A statement on the Chinese health ministry's Web site said the practice had no medical foundation and forbid its clinical use. The order banned the practice nationwide but specifically mentioned the notorious hospital in eastern Shandong province.

Calls to the Shandong hospital went unanswered Wednesday morning, but a hospital spokeswoman last week said "sensationalized" media reports had already led it to cease the shock treatment. The shocks were meant to cause subjects to associate a negative result with Internet use, according to the hospital. Subjects were forced to admit to faults while receiving the shocks, some Internet user accounts said.

Government-funded treatment centers for Internet addiction have sprouted up around China in recent years, though the health ministry has not officially labeled it a diagnosable condition. Many children are tricked by parents into going to the centers, which often deliver a mix of military boot camp and therapy sessions.

Staff at the treatment centers blame hugely popular online games like World of Warcraft for getting most Chinese teens hooked on the Web.

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. Experts meeting at the health ministry last month signed a document recommending its ban, he said.

Internet users celebrated the move in chat forums.

"This news should truly make people happy," one user wrote in a forum run by local search engine Baidu. "After all, this kind of thing is inhuman cruelty."

Tags China

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Owen Fletcher

IDG News Service

10 Comments

Anonymous

1

This is retarded

If it causes so many problems OBVIOUSLY the problem is their parenting skills. Also if ALL of their parenting skills are too poor nation wide just ban WORLD OF WARCRAFT. simple as that, it's not like chine dosen't ban everything else on the internet anywyas. Yeah you might not be able to play, but suck it up if its that large of a nation wide problem that is really affecting people in very negative ways.

Anonymous

2

Madness

This is pretty insane to say the least. I mean "shock therapy" to treat an imaginary disorder of too much internet? That's just straight out nuts. I can understand users wasting their lives playing WoW requiring some kind of intervention but compulsory electrocution to the head is going just a wee bit too far.

Anonymous

3

China...

... almost as backwards as soviet russia.

Anonymous

4

Madness...No....THIS...IS...SPARTA

Had to be said.

Anonymous

5

I'm glad this didn't go through though.... I mean where am I going to buy my gold?!?!?

*Disaster avoided* /phew =)

Anonymous

6

I can't fathom why this barbaric practice is still in use. Come on, since when is electricity to the brain a good thing?!? Nobody who administers this so-called "treament" should be considered anything more than a quack and a butcher.

Anonymous

7

Electricity to the brain....

Actually is still in use in North America for the treatment of certain forms of depression which do not respond to other treatments. The clinical data on the treatment show that when used on the correct class of disorders, it is an effective treatment.

Most of the bad reputation of this treatment was created by hospitals using a valid medical devise as an instrument of punishment. Which is exactly what this hospital did. This is not shock treatment, it is behavioural conditioning using electricity.

A bit of shameful behaviour (with popular depictions appearing in movies such as "one flew over the cukoo's nest") combined with a number of studies which showed no effect (for disorders other than those it had been designed to treat) caused the treatment to fall entirely out of favour for some years.

Which was a mistake. Many depressed individuals who may have been treatable where left to despair because no one wanted to risk bad publicity.

Anonymous

8

LOL @ barbarism

In reply to

"I can't fathom why this barbaric practice is still in use. Come on, since when is electricity to the brain a good thing?!? Nobody who administers this so-called "treament" should be considered anything more than a quack and a butcher."

Really? Do you even know how shock treatment works? The reasoning behind its employment? Of course not, you're just a reactant tool who can't stomach the thought of legit medical practices causing discomfort. Well I've got news for you. Needles hurt, vaccinations often contain the very bugs they're designed to save us from, and believe it or not, electricity doesn't have inherently and exclusively bad effects when introduced to the human body, despite what cartoons may have lead you to believe.

Anonymous

9

Ahhh . . . just pass a few watts throught the ol' brainpan . . .

The thing's designed to run on something like around 1V@20mA, I think? Passing a watt or two through the grey matter oughtta change the way it works, don't you guess?

Cheaper than a six-month stay at the Mao Tse Dong Happy People's Reeducation Camp, I guess.

Anonymous

10

rtfa

Where does it say anything about brain shocks? This sounds more like aversion therapy. Shocks that hurt (to the fingers or so), not shocks that give you seizures and fry your brain. They probably got the idea from <a href=http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/08/school-shock>the way we treat our kids with special needs</a>.

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