Saturday, 29 December 2007

Parents Defend School's Use of Shock Therapy

Phil Dawdy's mentioned this story, over at Furious Seasons, and I thought I'd reproduce it, here:

Parents Defend School's Use of Shock Therapy

Phil's gripe on the application of this treatment (I use the term wrongly) appears to centre on the absence of any kind of input from the kids. There's something in that, I guess, but there's something else going on here, which I can't quite put my finger on, just now. I'm going to go and have a cigarette and make another cup of tea, and think about it.

OK. This quotation struck me:

"“People want to believe positive interventions work even in the most extreme cases,” [Michael P. Flammia, the lawyer for Rotenberg, said]. “If they did, that is all we would use.”"

He goes on to say that Rotenberg gets the kids off the drugs that have been shovelled into them (no surprise, there), and give the parents hope with this approach. The NYT piece doesn't appear to mention which "positive interventions" have been tried.

Now, the thing is, I've noticed that if one wishes to change habitual behaviour, one needs to provide an alternative. This is made all the easier if one establishes what it is that a particular behaviour seeks to achieve (assuming that all behaviour is positive in nature, from the perspective of the person exhibiting that behaviour). I simply don't see how one can effect real change by denying a person the facility to express or achieve something (even if it involves violent conduct). That requires that the person not only suppresses the behaviour, but also establishes a substitute that works, when the behaviour might well be ingrained, and the original purpose of the behaviour is no longer recalled with ease.

That puts a shitload of responsibility on the shoulders of a person who is, by consensus, already in no position to make any decisions for themselves. I don't see that that works, to be honest. In the meantime, of course, any "positive" results that are had are credited to the sadists applying the electric shocks.

Or maybe everything that I've written above is complete bollox.


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