According to Chinese official statistics, an estimated 40 million out of 710 million Chinese netizens may have the problem of Internet addiction. This phenomenon has given birth to a dubious industry to cure such addicts.
China Yang Yongxin Internet Addiction Curing Center in Chinese east coast city Linyi has recently been put under a media storm due to its cruel treatment.
The center is one of the many clinics which uses military-style management to “help the addicts back to their normal life”. The most controversial approach adopted by the Yang Yongxin Center is its electric-shock therapy.
“If I had the choice, I would rather die than have the (electric-shock) treatments. It was so miserable. My fingers got twisted like chicken feet and I could do nothing about it,” A Ming using alias told Lei Silin, an independent reporter who investigated the case.
According to A Ming, electric shocks on the head were even more miserable than on the hands. The feet and hands of the treated addicts would be pressed tight by the “receptionists”, who were other addicts most of time. Their mouth would be covered too.
Similar descriptions by other addicts of the Center were reported by Tencent News last Wednesday. “It feels like you are pricked by countless needles. You can feel the pain in every single cell.” “I could barely see anything. It was like a snowy screen of a TV before your eyes.”
China Yang Yongxin Internet Addiction Curing Center was founded in 2006. It claims to use a “comprehensive therapy, including 108 treatments to reshape the personality of the troubled youth”.
The so-called therapy is in essence, more like brainwashing. The addicts are forced to have military training, sing positive songs, write open “diaries” about their feelings and even take medicines. Those who show any resistance against these treatments will be sent to a room to take the electric shocks.
Before long, reports on the cruelty and inhumanity of the electric-shock treatment went viral in China. The electric-shock treatment was halted by the Chinese authorities in 2009, and the official reasoning was that “there is no evidence on the safety and effectiveness of electric shocks in treating Internet addiction.”
The fact is, electric-shock treatment has somehow survived and is continuing in the Yang Yongxin Center, Chinese media have reported.
What will happen to the hundreds of A Ming who are under treatment in this and other centers?
(Top photo from Select.yeeyan.org)