Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

Chapter 12
Dementia — Varieties of Schizophrenia
Introduction — Untranquillized Tranquillity
In eight years of working in the old mental hospital, Felicity requested the purchase of quite a few fairly expensive items of equipment to permit him to do some of the things he needed to do. However, during that time he was gratified to be granted only one $30 expenditure for the purchase of a ‘electrical shock stimulus’ device. Not one of that kind. He didn’t want to do ‘shock treatments’, which are actually called Electro-Convulsive Therapy, or ECT. No, he wanted to use ‘tickle shock’ to the fingers to deliver a mild discomfort. If he was going to knock people out, he would have used a two-by-four – that was about as sophisticated as he knew how to be. It’s true that ECT and a shock stimulus have a couple of things in common – they are both used in treatments of some psychological disorders, and they both help people to ‘live better electrically’.
Felicity wanted the ‘shock stimulus’ for the Behaviour Therapy Unit, to be used daily by the nurse, morning and afternoon, with all of the twelve patients on the Unit. He wanted it for a treatment method he had read about in Wolpe’s book called anxiety-relief conditioning. It provided a kind of ‘psychological aspirin’. The patients took to calling the procedure the ‘Be Calm’ method. Indeed, it was intended to provide a psychological tranquillizer for the patients since they were taken off all medications when they were admitted to the Unit.
Oh, you didn’t know that? Oh, yes, by prior agreement with the psychiatrists, all the patients were taken off all psychotropic medications as soon as they were admitted to the Unit. Oh dear, you noticed another evidence of the fictional nature of these stories. Oh well, let’s press on regardless.

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