Sherwin Nuland, the brilliant surgeon and author of How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter, died in March. (Read Remembering A Surgeon Who Healed With Words. The article has links to his articles at the New Republic.)
Dr. Nuland wouldn’t have written his great works if he hadn’t recovered from a crushing depression leading to his confinement in a mental hospital. When all the available treatments and medications had failed to bring him back from the black pit, a resident suggested electroshock therapy. Those of us who watch too many movies (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Frances) think of electroshock therapy as a form of torture that turns its victims into zombies, but as Nuland recounts in his moving TED talk from 2001, it was his resurrection.
Oddly enough, after watching this TED talk, we picked up Andrew Sean Greer’s The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, in which the heroine undergoes shock treatment for her depression…and travels through time. (First impression: The plot is very similar to that of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, which came out in the same year.)