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Student Research Guide: The Modern Relevance of Electroshock Therapy: Top 10 Resources

By Elisa Perez

Top 10 Resources

Einstein Healthcare Network. (n.d.). Mental & Behavioral Health: Electroconvulsive Therapy.

  • This source offers more general information regarding the practice but also is notable for coming from a facility who actually practice ECT on clientele, giving some insight into how professionals view their procedure.

Ithal, Kannan, K., Sundar, S., Kumar, N., Thirthahalli, J., Ramesh, V. J., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2015). Comparison Of Cognitive Adverse Effects And Efficacy Of 2 Pulse Widths (0.5ms & 1.5ms) During Brief Pulse Electro Convulsive Therapy In Schizophrenia Patients- A Randomised Single Blind Controlled Trial. Brain Stimulation, 8(2), 394–394.

  • An interesting study on how different pulse widths influence the outcome of an ECT session. This mainly shows how ECT is still evolving even today and some are trying to apply it beyond depression into other psychological illnesses.

Mueller, P. S., M.D., Barnes, R. D., M.D., Varghese, R., M.D., Nishimura, R. A., M.D., & Rasmussen, K. G., M.D. (2007). The safety of electroconvulsive therapy in patients with severe aortic stenosis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 82(11), 1360-3. 

  • This study astonishingly provides incite into how ECT has little effect on those with relatively severe heart complications, potentially showing its versatility in potential application.

Nuland, S. B. (2002). The Uncertain Art: Lightning on my Mind. American Scholar, 71(2), 127.

  • This article briefly talks about the origins of ECT, explaining how convulsions have long been used to treat psychiatric illnesses with plants such as camphor. When Italian psychiatrists discovered electricity could achieve such an effect more efficiently, it was quickly applied and found to work, thus creating ECT as we know it.

Psychologists support ban of electroshock treatment on military and veterans: Opposing american psychiatric association's push to broaden controversial shock use.  (2017, May 23). PR Newswire

  • This is a peculiar article about a recent proposal to ban ECT on those serving in the US military and veterans. Oddly enough, psychiatrists affiliated with the US miltary proposed and praised the concept unlike other professionals in established institutions. This shows how the consensus on ECT is not entirely cut and dry, even among experts.

Rose, D., Fleischmann, P., Wykes, T., Leese, M., & Bindman, J. (2003). Patients' perspectives on electroconvulsive therapy: Systematic review. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 326(7403), 1363.

  • This article clearly lays out data recorded surrounding patients and their feelings towards ECT. No real pattern seems to have been found but is still noteworthy for its very clean presentation of its information.

TEDTalks, & Nuland, S.—My History of Electroshock Therapy. (2012). TED.

  • A firsthand recounting of a surgeon's experience with ECT. He claims that he went into near terminal depression which ECT saved him from, allowing him to continue on with his life. One of the surprisingly few easy to find stories about one's experiences with the practice which ended positively, as every other article and interview I found from a former patient seemed to paint either their experience or the entire application as horrifying.

Waterhouse, B. (2014). I'm not mad! Social Alternatives, 33(3), 15-19. 

  • A firsthand recounting of a woman who underwent ECT. She claims that the practice effectively stole her life by permanently erasing almost all of her memories and significantly hampering her mental and physical capabilities. This appeared to be one of the more prominent stories from an ECT patient, although most seem to follow a similar pattern.

Branigan, T. (2009, Jul 24). Guardian weekly: International news: China online: Internet addiction grips nation: 'flawed' diagnosis of dependency fuels spread of bogus therapy. The Guardian 

  • This source provides a general overview about Yang Yongxin, an infamous Chinese doctor who notably treats technology related illnesses with a form of ECT that involves the omission of anesthetics. Despite massive controversy, he has continued to practice his flawed methods. 

Young, R. & McMahon, S. Disability Advocates Fight Ruling Allowing Electric Shock Treatment Back In Mass. Residential School. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2022 

  • This source briefly outlines the controversies related to the Judge Rotenberg Center, who teach those with various developmental disabilities how to better function by themselves in modern society. However, they are known for issuing electric shocks as a way to punish misbehavior among their students.
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