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Electroshock therapy given to young Net addicts
By Hu Yinan and Qin Zhongwei (
Updated: 2009-06-03 00:17
Electroshock therapy is being administered to youngsters at a controversial Internet addiction clinic where patients are "reborn".

More than 3,000 youths have been tricked or forced in to a four-month program run by Dr Yang Yongxin at a clinic in Shandong province. About 100 people are currently receiving treatment at the clinic.

Patients are given electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for breaking any of the center's 86 rules, including eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal and sitting on Yang's chair without permission, the Information Times reported.

Parents or guardians sign a contract acknowledging that the child will be given ECT and pays 6,000 yuan (US$878) per month for treatment.

Details about the treatment were revealed online recently when a number of former patients began to write online about their experience.

According to the posts, the clinic administers continuous ECT in a current of up to 200 milliamperes.

Meanwhile, patients are forced to admit "wrongdoings" and those of others and are also instructed to kneel down in front of their parents to show obedience.

In addition, patients — known as "members of the alliance"  at the clinic -- are not permitted to talk about anything other than overcoming their Internet addiction, numerous former patients write.

Most are found to be "cured" -- or "reborn" according to Yang — by simply "admitting" that they have overcome their addiction.

Internet addiction is not classified as a mental illness in China, a country with nearly 300 million Internet users, many of whom are adolescents who willingly indulge in endless hours of online games per day.

Depression, fainting, muscle weakness and twitching and anorexia have been listed as typical syndromes of Net addiction.

The government established the first Internet addiction treatment clinic in Beijing in 2004.

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