GRE Reading Comprehension
The article "Shock therapy for mental patients will be reviewed" continues the ignorant tradition of demonizing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the media (the very use of the anachronistic and misleading phrase "shock therapy" is unwarranted) without presenting the compelling reasons for its continued use. Most of the facts and quotations in the article, including the gratuitous final paragraph about pigs in an abattoir, are simply taken from an article by Davar in "Issues in Medical Ethics", without questioning whether Davar's presentation of the issue is an unbiased and scientifically accurate one. What Ms. Davar, and by extension Ms. Jain, has done is simply cite authorities who agree with her point of view, quote statistics without context, use an abundance of negative adjectives, and ignore outright the empirically proven benefits (often life-saving) of ECT in many categories of mentally-ill patients. This is shabby and irresponsible medical journalism. While this is not the place to dispute, point-by-point, Ms. Davar's presentation of her position and Ms. Jain's repetition of it, I would like to quote, to counter their negative emphasis, from Andrew Solomon's widely read, intensively researched, highly respected book, The Noonday Demon: An Anatomy of Depression. Solomon writes: "Antidepressants are effective [against major depression] about 50 percent of the time, perhaps a bit more; ECT seems to have some significant impact between 75 and 90 percent of the time... Many patients feel substantially better within a few days of having an ECT treatment – a boon particularly striking in contrast to the long, slow process of medication response. ECT is particularly appropriate for the severely suicidal – for patients who repeatedly injure themselves and whose situation is therefore mortally urgent – because of its rapid action and high response rate, and it is used in pregnant women, the sick, and the elderly, because it does not have the systemic side effects or drug-interaction problems of most medications." There are, indeed, problems with the administration of ECT, especially in a country like India with its poor health infrastructure. It would be foolish to deny that the practice is subject to abuse (as Solomon and numerous Indian writers report). The continued use of "direct" ECT (without the use of an anesthetic) is certainly a matter of concern – and a concerted effort to implement national guidelines making "modified" ECT (using an anesthetic) mandatory is as necessary as it is laudatory. But we can all do without more pieces of journalism which perpetuate the myth that ECT is a medically unjustified, indeed barbaric practice, tantamount to torture. This ignorant view, equally prevalent in the West as it is in India, has more to do with movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest than 50 with scientific fact.
It can be inferred that the author believes that the author of the article mentioned in the first line(Select ALL answer choices that apply)
- A fails to question her source material rigorously
- B includes unwarranted matter
- C uses an excess of pejorative terms
Correct Answer: ABC