Lake Alice and the Ectron machine

ECT statistics

While I was looking for information about the use of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) in New Zealand I was reminded of Lake Alice and the legal case of former child patients.

Lake Alice was a psychiatric hospital (closed in 1999) in Rangitikei, north of Wellington. The hospital included a unit for children and adolescents, and it is the events at this unit in the 1970s, in particular the use of ECT and aversive electric shock treatment, that have made the hospital notorious. Ten years ago a number of former patients were awarded compensation, much of it eaten up by lawyers, but the case continues. You can read about the case here.

The psychiatrist responsible was Selwyn Leeks. He was first investigated in 1977 when allegations of abuse and mistreatment at the unit emerged, but was cleared. In the meantime he had moved to Melbourne, Australia, and continued practising as a psychiatrist. He retired…

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