Saturday, 26 April 2008

A history of ECT.

This new book on the history of ECT is a must read! I have 2 copies: I bought one the moment it was published and Max Fink sent me a copy as a new year's present (thanks again, Max!!), but I only read it once :°). Edward Shorter became famous with his book 'A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac' (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1997). The ECT-book, he wrote with another great author, David Healy. The book adressess different aspects of the history of ECT, with an emphasis on the American history of ECT, i.e. Max Fink. The European situation, however, is also described and even our own association, the European Forum for ECT (EFFECT) is mentioned in the book, and has thus become part of history!


SurveysCenter Group. said...


Jan Martens said...

Hi Shrink,

I also read this book, but I am not all positive. I am writing my thesis on the history of brain stimulation in psychiatry.

Shorter for instance is really convinced that ECT has been and is a good therapy and he thinks that it is incredible that a therapy of such importance could have been kicked aside for such trivial reasons as its image in a film (Shorter, 298). The book does not convince me that it was really Kesey's movie that almost put on end to ECT.

Jan Martens

shrink said...

Hi Jan,
thank you for visiting the blog. I don't know if I understand you well, but it seems that you, as opposed to Shorter, are not convinced that ECT has been and is a good therapy? My understanding from the literature is that no other treatment comes near to the effects of ECT. The only promising therapy that is out there and is probably able to yield comparable results is MST (but then again, the only differnce between the 2 treatments is the way the seizures are elicited). That brings us to the point of the history of ECT: its history is not the history of the use of electricity in medicine, but of the use of convulsions (before ECT von Meduna had invented pharamacological convulsive therapy). I am also not convinced that it was the movie only that (temporarily) put ECT aside, but I am sure that its influence was all but trivial. I do believe thjat the film had more influence than e.g. the era of psychopharmacology.
Best regards,
Pascal Sienaert

Dr. Shock said...

Seen this?
Will get you hooked on blogging
Dr Shock