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Doubt over ‘Dr Shock’ treatment

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A technique that a South African psychiatrist, jailed for sexually assaulting three patients in Canada, claims he learnt in this country, was “made up”.

This is according to a Durban psychiatrist, Professor Angelo Lasich, who worked with Dr Aubrey Levin, 74, who allegedly used shock therapy to “cure” gay conscripts in the SA Defence Force during apartheid.

Levin also once headed the psychiatric unit at Addington Hospital.

Levin was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment last week after he was found guilty of sexually abusing three patients. He was acquitted of other, similar charges.

He told a Calgary court last year that he used bulbocavernosus reflex testing, normally a urology procedure, while trying to cure patients of erectile problems.

During his police interrogation, an extract of which was published in the Calgary Herald, Levin had said that when he had worked in South Africa, “we did just about everything. Some would say it was… the land of medical cowboys. Because we used to learn to do everything.”

However, Lasich said in an interview with the Daily News yesterday that he had never heard of the technique Levin claimed cured patients of erectile problems, and described it as something his former colleague had “made up”.

“It sounds like something maybe a prostitute would do to you,” he said.

“I’m very doubtful that there is such a technique

.”

He said treating patients for erectile problems never required a psychiatrist to touch their private parts.

Lasich said normal psychiatric procedure in treating erectile problems required a professional to establish where the dysfunction stemmed from psychologically.

“You would then have to bring in the patient’s partner to join in the sessions and educate them about normal sexual cycles and give them certain techniques to use. It is not normal to touch a patient’s private parts. I think he (Levin) just made up the technique he claims to have been using.”

Levin was registered as a psychiatrist in 1969 and later commanded the major psychiatric wing of 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.

Later he became the apartheid government’s head of mental health. He left South Africa after he refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) about allegations that he was guilty of gross human rights violations.

When “all the stuff from the military cropped up at the TRC hearings in the 1990s, Levin fled the country”, Lasich said.“

“He was treating homosexuals in the army to change their sexual orientation.”

Levin was alleged to have used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” them.

Pacifists in the army were narco-analysed by being administered drugs such as Sodium Pentothal – the so-called truth drug.

Levin admitted back then that he had used the drug, but “only sparingly, and in cases where patients suffered severe post-traumatic stress”.

Lasich felt the five-year jail term handed to Levin was fair.

“I’m not sure about their laws in Canada, but I suppose it’s appropriate,” he said.

Levin is expected to appeal against the sentence.

Daily News


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