Internet Cafe in Beijing, China
Internet Cafe in Beijing, China

LINYI — Dr. Yang Yongxin first garnered attention a decade ago when he opened the "Young People Risk Behavior Intervention Center" in this city in the eastern province of Shandong. The "risk behavior" in question was not drugs or sex, but wasting time online.

The Nanfang Daily reports that Yang, who used to work in the psychiatric ward of Linyi People's Hospital, claimed he could cure children addicted to the internet by combining "psychological, medical, physical, occupational and recreational" methods.

What Yang calls "physical therapy" was in fact electroconvulsive therapy, an electric shock treatment that used to be popular for serious depressive disorders, mania and catatonia.

Yang said that after connecting electrodes to the temples or fingers of patients, "the electrical stimulation will cause disgust for the Internet," the Nanfang Daily reports.

"This kind of pain cannot be described in any language," said one of the youngsters sent there. Another said it was like "being hit on the temples by a high-frequency vibration hammer."

Some have compared the treatment at the center to concentration camps as teens are required to wear uniforms and report others who don't follow rules. Apart from receiving the electroshock treatments, the patients are also administered unspecified drugs three to four times a day.

After a 2009 CCTV documentary exposed the practice, shock therapy was officially banned by China's Ministry of Health. However, the Nanfang Daily reports that Yang continues his practice and that the so-called treatment is now administered in other parts of China.

The People's Daily blames the trend on poor judgment by families. "It's the parents who are insane but it's their children who take the medicine."

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