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20065

Transcript of Kitty Dukakis' Interview on ABC-TVs Good Morning America 

September 18, 2006

WOMEN AND SHOCK THERAPY; DOES CONTROVERSIAL TREATMENT WORK?

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Okay. Sam, thanks. We're gonna talk now about depression. A gigantic problem in this country. It will strike 62 million Americans at some point in their lives. Twice the number of women as men. And some of them will seek treatment through talk therapy or antidepressants. For about four million people, however, suffering from severe depression, none of those things will work. And that was the case for someone you know, named Kitty Dukakis, the wife of former Massachusetts governor, one time presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis. And we remember outward, seeming to have it all in reality. Her life was falling apart.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) In the 1988 presidential campaign, Kitty Dukakis, shining in the political spotlight, while behind closed doors it was another story. Severe depression, masked for years by pills, alcohol. She had run out of treatment options, she says, and she resorted to what is called ECT or electro-convulsive therapy.

DOCTOR CHARLES WELCH (MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL)

ECT is nothing more than intentionally causing a grand-mal seizure under very controlled circumstances.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) It's believed the ancient Romans were the first to used electricity as a cure. Some fish generate electrical impulses and were used to cure headaches producing small seizures. In the 1960's, ECT reached its peak used as an all-purpose psychiatric treatment. Here's how it works. After the patient is put to sleep, electrodes on the skull give off 20 volts of electricity, about enough to make a 10 watt light bulb flicker for a second.

DOCTOR CHARLES WELCH (MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL)

This is a very precisely regulated electrical stimulus of low intensity.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) That shock causes a small seizure. And for reasons doctors still don't understand, it somehow reorganizes brain function.

FILM CLIP FROM "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST"

ACTOR (MALE)

Are you ready? Here we go.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) But while ECT often conjures up visions from the classic movie 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," today the treatment doctors say bears no resemblance to that.

DOCTOR CHARLES WELCH (MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL)

There is no violent convulsion. The, the body is almost entirely motionless.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Though the jury is still out on the ECT.

ELECTRIC SHOCK EXPERT (MALE)

Electric shock always causes brain damage. It's just a matter of how much.

DOCTOR CHARLES WELCH (MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL)

In this day and age, ECT is a high-tech procedure. It's like any other modern medical procedure.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And Kitty Dukakis, who along with co-author Larry Tye, has written a book about her experiences. It is called 'Shock." And she joins us this morning and she is here because she says she wants people to know there is something else out there, however strong the taboo, for those who are in true despair. I want to go back to you in that despair to understand what it was. This, this wasn't just being blue. This was a struggle over 26 years in which you had, you were on pills, alcohol. How bad were the substance addictions?

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Well, they were bad. I mean, it's a, that's a long time to have an addiction, 26 years from amphetamines. But the alcoholism started with the depression. It was, as with many of us who, who are alcoholic, depression is a part of our story. And so that was a part of mine.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And we know, and you talked in the book how grave it was, it's, that you were one of those that sometimes would drink rubbing alcohol...

KITTY DUKAKIS ('SHOCK")

Yeah.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) ...nail polish, anything to, to mask...

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

To mask the pain that the dark hole that, that I was in.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Imagining back to you in the campaign and to your husband.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) How, how much despair was he in, I guess, is the question?

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Oh, I think there, that's, that's very different from the kind of clinical depressions that I was, that I would suffer. Michael was disappointed, he was sad about it. But that's not in the same category. It's just different.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) We were talking about the fact that two times the number of women suffers severe depression as well. And you think...

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Well, that, that men are more macho about this kind of thing that they don't go for help in the numbers that, that women do. I think we're more vulnerable. I think we're more, probably, more sensitive about things and, and more aware about what's going on with our own bodies and our minds.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) All right. I wanna talk about what brought you to this decision. It must be the scary one to go to shock treatment, which we know that just strikes horror in the heart of so many people. Antidepressants had not worked...

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Mm-hmm.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) ...talk therapy had not worked. And you want everybody there to know that before you get to the suicidal point, which so many people do, they have to consider this. Were you, were you (inaudible)...

KITTY DUKAKIS ('SHOCK")

I was frightened. We had a double reason to be frightened. Michael's brother had had shock treatment years before during what I call the Dark Ages of shock treatment. And it was a very difficult time. I don't know at this point whether it helped at all, but the process itself was almost barbaric.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) But your process was very different. First of all, you - you get a medication that makes you not remember it.

KITTY DUKAKIS ('SHOCK")

Yes. Right. Your - there's an anesthesia that puts one to sleep, I'm on oxygen, I mean, there are muscle relaxants. There are all kinds of things that happen as a result. And it is seconds, the current that goes in are seconds. I had unilateral ECT, so it's on one side. Oftentimes, bilateral on both sides can, can cause real memory loss.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Did you have any memory loss...

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Yes. Yes.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And what happens when you wake up?

KITTY DUKAKIS ('SHOCK")

Well, when I wake up, I'm a bit groggy. And after anesthesia, even though it's, you know, within 15, 20 minutes a half-hour, you're very much awake. I have a slight headache and I go about my business. Oftentimes, I'll sleep, the day, you know, in the morning, the day of my, my treatment. And then I go about my business. And for me, it's just, Michael calls it the miracle in my life. It's just made, you know, I'm not everybody. Lots of people have not been helped. But I have, one of the lucky ones. And...

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Severe memory loss, though, or small things?

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

No, no. It's for me it's, it's annoyances. It's not remembering people sometimes. It's, it's not remembering phone numbers. They are things I can deal with. And I call it a trade off. I would much rather have those kinds of losses.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) How soon do you feel better? And have you been able to go off antidepressants?

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Yeah.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And alcohol, the drugs?

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

I have gone off. Yeah. I have gone off of antidepressants. And I have been sober now for the same amount of time I've had ECT, so that is a blessing. It's been five years, which is a wonderful part of where my life is today. I feel very blessed. I'm one of those people who has been helped. Large numbers of people are helped by this treatment. And I've been one of them. The memory loss is not a major part of my life. My doctor has often said that the patient himself or herself is often the last person to recognize that they're doing better. It's the loved ones around you.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And, as we said, it's a mystery how it works. But your family can see that you're simply all right.

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

My daughters in particular, my son a little less so, recognize differences in my voice. They - they are so sensitive. And Andrea and Kara can tell when I'm going down by the tone of my voice and will often call Michael and say, 'What's going on." And then they noticed the changes when I've had treatment and it's gradual. Treatment takes a couple of weeks. It's three times a week. And so it's six treatments normally. And then the changes began. And I, you know, I feel so happy to be alive after these treatments.

DIANE SAWYER (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Well, that is the point for people who are on the brink of suicidal despair a very brave thing to do in this controversy. The book is called 'Shock: The Healing Power of Electro-Convulsive Therapy." Makes everybody examine it, at least, in any way. And it's great to see you here and great to see you smiling.

KITTY DUKAKIS ("SHOCK")

Thank you.

Copyright 2006 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.


 

 


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