Electro-Shock Therapy In Pat Barker's Regeneration

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In Pat Barker’s Regeneration, the two main psychiatrists we are introduced to, are Dr. W.H.R. Rivers and Dr. Lewis Yealland. Both of them were appointed to treat officers suffering from shell shock, so that they could be sent back to the frontline, in the First World War. However, Rivers’s and Yealland’s treating methods were different from each other. In this essay, I am going to argue that, while Yealland’s treatment had a higher percentage of successful treatments, Rivers’s attitude towards his patients, and his more humane method proves him being a better therapist. In the First World War, where electro-shock therapy was deemed a successful “treatment” for shell shock, not many therapists was comforting and understanding, as Rivers was.…show more content…
In Regeneration, Yealland is an arrogant character, who has a god-like image among his patients. He refuses to accept that there could be any method better than his. He believes that those who suffer from mental breakdown in the war, are bound to break down in civil life too. He makes his patients feel even more victimized by his powerful and superior attitude. He refuses to answer patient’s questions too, which is made clear when a frightened patient asks before the electric shock treatment if it will hurt. He says, “I realize you did not intend to ask this question and so I will overlook it.”. Like many doctors in his time, he is unable to accept that there is something mentally wrong with them. Having no sympathy towards the patient is a part of his treatment. Rivers’s attitude towards his patients greatly differs. Through his treatment he builds up himself as a father figure for his patients. He is someone, who’s open for questions and who can be consulted at any time. He supports his patients, by talking with them, which helps them conquer their own terror. His dedication towards his patients is shown, when he himself breaks down from exhaustion. His method, and his deep concern for every individual he treated, made him famous among his clients. He became a supporting pillar for shell shock patients, who was able to believe, that expressing your emotions is not a weakness, but a way of fighting
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