Yale Psychiatrist Receives Federal Grant to Shock Elderly Dementia Patients


Samuel Wilkinson, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, and Greg Rhee, PhD, assistant professor adjunct of psychiatry, have been awarded $2.15 million from the National Institute of Health to study the longitudinal effects of ECT as a treatment for “neuropsychiatric symptoms” of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. The release from Yale Medical School doesn’t explain how the researchers will obtain consent from those with severe dementia to participate in their study.


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  1. Sad. It ruined my weekend.

    The first study might turn out to be another STARD*D “misrepresentation”.

    Doubly sad they chose the elderly, frail, defenseles, etc., to do such study. And if my take is more or less accurate, they are gonna evaluate symptoms, symptomatology, bad medicine.

    Maybe not even that, guessing the target population will have trouble expressing how they feel, so they are probably gonna evaluate signs, not symptoms, rated only by the researchers.

    And I am guessing there is no basis to conclude that the disease process and the symptoms will respond to ECT. Same ECT rethoric to me: “We are going to see if it works, regardless of why”.

    And probably a choice of target population to avoid the pernicious problem to psychiatry of “autobiographical amnesia” caused by ECT. And report a resounding success “with no evidence of harm”, even “beyond doubt”. Yikes!.

    And the second grant in appearance tries to deal with the outcomes of hospitalization in psychiatric hospitals. By dealing with the aftermath, and not the before or during hospitalization.

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  2. I imagine psychiatrist all over the world hitting thier forhead with the heel of thier hand and saying, “How in the hell did I not think of this”. Well, then, congradulations are in order Doctors Wilkinson and Rhee. Hopefully, the ‘research” results aren’t shockingly disapointing, or otherwise unshockingly misrepresnted in the journal entries to sure to follow…

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    • …but, but, it’s Yale. Yale wouldn’t misrepresent research results, would they?

      Knowing Yale psychiatry, I’m sure they applied for this grant and will carry out this experiment – I mean, research – with zero qualms about the ethics.

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    • ‘“How in the hell did I not think of this”’ that in scientific research is a bona fide sign of genius. That and finding out something new that was difficult to find: an almost unsurmountable problem, that is also important, transcendental. Like in evil genius in this case. “Terrible, but great”…

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      • Just to clarify the gist of my comment: To my understanding, ECT is antithetical to the preservation of memory, save lacking in any “scientific evidence”-whatever the hell that means anymore-for effecting or otherwise restoring lost memories in those who’ve undergone ECT. In fact, pretty much the opposite in both its historical ‘medical’ objective and results therein. So, then, to pursue a research grant from ECT’s various scientifically-constitutive and historical record, seems to me, at best, cynically and disingenuously opportunistic, and at worst, nihilistically opportunistic. Worse, still, to have actually procured the grant (the real crux of my passive-aggressive comment), seems to me a rather telling structural institutional failure.

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        • I would think ECT if not for the lack of interest and knowledge of legislators and some members of the judiciary is/should be illegal.

          And I don’t see it as a failure of institutions to approve such clinical research. The institution seems designed to approve such research, horrendous as it might be. Like the STAR*D.

          To me seen something as a failure when it is actually what the institution does and its expected to do, kind of obfuscates things for me. I like more seeing it as part of a criminal or callous system, than a failed one.

          Uninformed or ignorant institutions granting federal research funds would sound like a joke to me.

          Like failled states, they didn’t faill, they were driven that way because they served a purpose, a reason, an incentive. Criminal, inhumane or disagreable as it might seem to me.

          Disagreable, but the prision system with all it’s problems is not a failure, it was designed to provide punishment.

          Same, similar for psychiatry and the research fueling it: used to at least make less visibles those who society, its interests or representatives find at least convenient to make them so.

          Sometimes I even get the impression that worst crimes than invisibility is the goal cherised by psychiatry, its practitioners and the supporting institutions.

          There are historical examples, plenty, of that. And I don’t consider those failures, many folks fought hard to reach those objectives, regardless of the consequences/prices/cost, even to their “own kind”.

          And it is my impression from being mexican, that sometimes corruption is taking into account when designing, implementing and supervising institutions.

          The mexican health law and its implementation and surveilance is, to me, a good example of that.

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        • As an example of why I don’t like using the word failure when institutions appear to me to do what they are expected to do, it might not translate very well to other countries, but:

          In Mexico for decades there is the complaint of the underfunding, the failure to fund properly the public health system.

          Well, I’ve heard veiled and or informal comments that workers of the public system benefit with the underfunding that drives patients to the private system. Beyond corruption to get proper care by allocating selectively the public resources thorugh bribes or “influence”.

          Sometimes, even some specialists “steal” patients from the highest level of care, the most sophisticated, to their private practices, from the public medical office.

          There is at least one hospital, very expensive, I knew, and was there not as a patient, and it’s full of specialist from one of the most sophisticated public hospitals in the country. Some even joked it was the private twin of the public one, somehow.

          And, again, veiled or informally, many of the patients from that very big, prestigious, expensive private hospital are from the public one.

          Underfunding in that case does not seem a failure to me, seems designed…

          And for me seeing it as a failure prevents me from seeing what is wrong with all of that. It distracts me from at least considering some public institutions are, sometimes and for some cases, not made to provide public service, but use it as a excuse to promote private interests that sometimes even harm public goods. And on top of that with public funding, and the protection, as a racket, it provides.

          And on the lowest level of the mexican HCS the fact that there is poor, late, and otherwise inadequate medical care, drives patients to private cheap clinical offices, where a lot of the public medical practitioners actually work too.

          Double profit. And no incentive for anyone, outside truly patient advocates, to change a single iota. It Works! and it Works Great!, for some providers, officials, etc.

          Just not for patients.

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  3. And, not to put to fine a point on it, Yale doesn’t address how they’re going to acquire informed consent from their test subjects because they know that it’s not possible to acquire informed consent from their test subjects. I guess this is all well and good with the people working in our federal government who approved the grant.

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  4. My god, just MY GOD!…. I try not to think about how deep are the depths of depravity to which the High Priests of the Cult of Psychiatry will sink…. so let me play cunning linguist:

    “neuropsychiatric” = “scientific pseudoscience”
    “symptom” = can be ANYTHING a psych wants it to be….
    “ECT” = Electro-Cution Torture
    “psychiatry” = 21st century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins, and non-fatal electrocutions….

    Wilkinson & Rhee should be ASHAMED of themselves, for even THINKING about such elder abuse….but hey, they lived a good life, why NOT use them as human guinea pigs? Who’s gonna stop these “MAD SCIENTISTS”?
    I’m sure that Wilkinson & Rhee are just as shameless, heartless, and cruel, as the typical quack shrink psychiatrist in my experience….
    So let’s nominate them for the “Dr. Frankenstein’s Genocide” award, ok?….

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    • Lol, Bradford. And I completely agree, “Wilkinson & Rhee should be ASHAMED of themselves, for even THINKING about such elder abuse.”

      A little update on my loved one who suffered from a first episode likely drug withdrawal induced manic psychosis and/or alcohol withdrawal, who was treated with a short course of benzos. Yesterday he was very manic, and not making much sense. But today my loved one seemed much better … no apparent mania, and he had appropriate responses to questions. Although he said he was worse, because his neck hurt. He is still suffering from short run memory loss issues (which started after the hospitalization), but at least his inability to form his words (which also started after the hospitalization) seems to be getting better.

      My mom talked to his doctor, who of course, claimed a short course of benzos can’t cause several weeks of adverse withdrawal effects. I’m not an expert on benzo withdrawal, but know they can cause very long run adverse withdrawal effects.

      Please say a prayer for my loved one’s healing, if you are a God believer. And, we’ll see if a short course of benzos might be a better solution to a first episode manic psychosis? I hate to experiment on my loved one, but since we have a known family history of very adverse reactions to the anticholinergic drugs … what do you do?

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