China Ends Shock Therapy to Treat Web Addiction

BEIJING—China has halted shock therapy for web addiction.

According to the China Youth Daily newspaper, the Health Ministry yesterday ordered a hospital to stop using electric shocks to cure youths of internet addiction, Reuters reported.

Apparently it dawned on someone that there was no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of shock therapy.

Linyi Mental Health Hospital in eastern Shandong province had treated some 3,000 teens as part of a four-month program.

A notice posted on the ministry website said, "Electroshock therapy for internet addiction ... has no foundation in clinical research or evidence and therefore is not appropriate for clinical application."

The Youth Daily said the so-called "electric impact therapy" was developed by Doctor Yang Yongxin, also known as "Uncle Yang." He runs a boot camp called the Internet Addiction Treatment Center at Linyi Mental Hospital, but somehow doesn't sound like America's Dr. Drew.

Patients were given psychotropic drugs as well as the electro-shocks, which cost 5,500 yuan ($805) a month.

The patients also were not allowed to have contact with anyone outside of the facility. In most cases, teens were forced to enter the program.

According to AP, Yang Shuyun told the Beijing News the treatments were stopped after the ministry posted its advisory.

Chinese news sources said Yang and his six associates at the facility are not qualified psychotherapists.

China has the world's largest population of internet user in any nation—about 300 million and still rising.