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Originally published November 25 2009

China Finally Stops Using Electroshock Therapy to "Treat" Internet Addicts

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Health Ministry of China has issued an order banning the use of electroshock therapy for the treatment of Internet addiction, in response to a nationwide scandal that erupted after former patients of the Linyi Mental Health Hospital in Shandong province wrote in blogs and forums that they had been subjected to the practice against their will.

"This news should truly make people happy," a Chinese Internet user wrote in an online forum run by the search engine Baidu. "After all, this kind of thing is inhuman cruelty."

Although Internet addiction is not recognized by the Chinese government as a valid clinical diagnosis, the condition has de facto acceptance throughout the country's health profession and government. Symptoms of Internet addiction include spending more than six hours a day online not for work or school purposes and becoming angry when unable to access the Internet. A recent estimate by the National People's Congress estimated that roughly one in every 10 Chinese residents under the age of 18 suffers from Internet addiction.

In response to this perceived problem, a number of government-funded clinics and treatment programs have sprung up around the country, promising to cure the condition. Children are often tricked into attending by their parents.

Typical treatment at these centers was described by as "a mix of military boot camp and therapy sessions." At least one hospital, however, used electroshock therapy on top of these techniques. According to Web postings by former patients, hospital staff would tie patients down and subject them to shocks for up to 30 minutes at a time, while demanding that the patients admit to their faults. Linyi staff said that the procedure was intended to create a negative association with Internet use.

In prohibiting the practice, the Health Ministry specifically named Linyi Mental Health Hospital, and noted that no scientific evidence either domestically or internationally has ever shown electroshock therapy to be beneficial in treating Internet addiction.

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