Electric Shock Treatment For Mental Illness-Therapy Or Torture?

Shocked By 220 Volts

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Treatment or Torture?

Electro Shock therapy has been used to treat mental illness since 1938.This treatment, ECT, was introduced as effective for psychiatric disorders and illnesses. These include depression and catatonia. The medical term is Electroconvulsive Therapy and scientists still do not really know how or if it really works. The concept of shooting 220 volts of electricity through a human being is horrible, something a sadist might think of. The average home is supplied with 220 volts of electric service.

ECT was developed by Ugo Cerletti who thought electricity would induce seizures quickly. He experimented on dogs and observed pigs being stunned with electricity before slaughter and determined that electricity would indeed induce a fit. The experiments continued until 1938 when they found a man in a railway station and used him as a human guinea pig. He was held and subjected to shocks until after 10 treatments they deemed him in good condition and released him. The man begged them to stop after the first time saying “it is murderous” and it surely must have felt that way.

When introduced, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) was performed without the use of sedatives or pain medication of any sort. Later as accepted use grew, camphor and pentylenetetrazol were used in conjunction with the shock therapy. Pentylenetetrazol is actually a stimulant to the circulatory and respiratory system and caused seizures by itself. So the use along with the shock must have been excruciating. Discovery of the side effects of these drugs were known as early as 1938 but use of Pentylenetetrazol was not banned until 1982.

Electro Shock treatment was widely used by practitioners until the 1960s. Many drugs were discovered, approved and released at that time and showed great promise in controlling depression, manic depression and schizophrenia. The use of Electro Shock Therapy (ECT) was largely replaced by drug therapy although ECT is still used today.

In the beginning of ECT use, many patients suffered from convulsions, impaired mental function and even bone fractures caused by muscle contractions and other injuries caused by the seizure. The practice of ECT continues today but is controlled and the patient is put to sleep and awakens afterward. Patient chart reflect twitching of the extremities and because muscle relaxants are used, the dose of electricity is increased to induce a seizure.

That was not the case for many years. Thousands suffered cardiac arrest and died on the table. Others were so disoriented they could not walk or use their upper body muscles effectively for years afterward. Even more suffered brain damage to such a degree that they never lived independently again. Many were described by their families as “like a zombie” and almost all were left with memory loss. One woman, a young mother at the time, cannot remember an entire year of her daughter’s life.

The horror of this treatment lives on through the words of many who were subjected to it. ECT was widely accepted and even influential people thought it would help and underwent the procedure.

Well known author and poet Sylvia Plath received ECT and described it in her famous novel The Bell Jar. ''Don't worry,' the nurse grinned down at me. 'Their first time, everybody's scared to death.' 'I tried to smile, but my skin had gone stiff, like parchment. Doctor Gordon was fitting two metal plates on either side of my head. He buckled them into place with a strap that dented my forehead, and gave me a wire to bite.
'I shut my eyes. There was a brief silence, like an indrawn breath. Then something bent down and took hold of me and shook me like the end of the world. Whee-ee-ee-ee-ee, it shrilled, through an air crackling with blue light, and with each flash a great jolt drubbed me till I thought my bones would break and the sap fly out of me like a split plant. 'I wondered what terrible thing it was that I had done.'”

Writer Ernest Hemingway was treated with ECT for his chronic depression. He was left with memory loss and could not bear it. He committed suicide by shooting himself. He had stated the memory loss that resulted as a side effect of ECT was “ruining his head” and “putting himself out of business”. He was right of course. A writer must have exceptional recollection and retention.

Another famous person to undergo ECT was actress Vivien Leigh of Gone With The Wind fame. She had been diagnosed with manic depression and was prescribed shock treatments to relieve the depression. At the time Ms. Leigh was married to another famous actor Laurence Olivier who said she was never the same again. She had noticeable personality changes and he said “She was not the same girl I had fallen in love with.”

One person close to me when I was a child endured ECT and her fear of having it repeated caused her to tremble at the mention of a hospital. She would break down in sobs and run from the house to hide in the woods. Her depression never improved but grew worse as the years passed and she suffered from memory loss the rest of her life.

ECT has been used on pregnant women (and still is today). So the developing brain of the baby has 220 volts of electricity run through it. Supposedly, this is safe. The lady mentioned was expecting when she was treated with ECT. Her child was born premature, never grew to a normal size and suffers from speech impairment even now.

As late as 1999, ECT was recommended for use with and without patient consent. A doctor at Judge Rotenberg Educational Center has begun using electric shock treatment on autistic children. Their consent is not needed and could not be given anyway as they are not of age. The center insists the results are positive and the treatment works. Some are as young as six years old. The child has electrodes attached to the legs, arms and torso and electric shock is applied. The children must think they are being punished and I wonder what their mental and emotional state will become for the remainder of their life. The Dr. Israel says there are no side effects and the painful experience is temporary and over in seconds. Interestingly, he owns patent on the machine used to administer the treatment to the children.

In July of 2009 an eight year old boy was treated with ECT three times a week for five weeks Kennedy Krieger Institute, John Hopkins School of Medicine. He was declared improved of the desire to harm himself and sent home.

This painful and debilitating practice of legal torture cannot continue to gain acceptance. Any supposed benefit certainly has not been shown to outweigh the cost to the person subjected to this procedure. It is called therapy. I say it should be called torture.

http://www.autism-world.com/index.php/2008/01/04/electric-shock-therapy-for-autistic-children-in-jrc/

The Human Brain

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Comments 68 comments

Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I don't know very much about this type of treatment except to say I think it is barbaric. I was shocked (no pun intended) to hear that famous writer, Janet Frame, was threatened with a pre-frontal lobotomy before she won a national literary prize. What is wrong with our medical profession?

Interesting hub!


GrafikaPro profile image

GrafikaPro 5 years ago from Poland

You make some very good points here and looks like you've done your research. I think that in the future we will find that many treatments we use today are actually harmful.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Genna, I was surprised to learn how many people have subjected themselves to these harmful and barbaric practices. The medical profession has I believe sold out. The well being of a human being is no longer paramount, but status and the esteem of peers, obtained through any type of experimentation.

Thanks so much for stopping in and the great comments.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Grafika, I worked for many days on this Hub, researching and studying. Thank you for noticing. I agree that the future will open our eyes to the harm and pain we have caused.

I appreciate your visit and comments.


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

I had someone very close to me, receive ECT several times for manic depression. It didn't help. She lost much of her memory and continued to suffer. There was some degree of brain damage as the result and she was never the same afterward.

When it comes to the human brain, doctors have not advanced very much, yet they continue to subject human beings to barbaric treatments like ECT. There should be laws against this.

Thanks for sharing this information.


daffodil2010 profile image

daffodil2010 5 years ago

interesting hub very informative thanks for sharing


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Faithful Daughter. I am so glad you stopped by. It is amazing that this type of thing is allowed by law. Certanly it is not moral. I am sorry aout your friend(?) She is a prime example oh how the cost outweighs any benefit.

Thanks for the great comment.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

daffodil2010, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the visit.


Bumpsysmum profile image

Bumpsysmum 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

It never fails to astonish me that we can make huge inroads into medical research on a daily basis, cancer, alzheimers etc, and then continue to carry out what can only be described as Dickensian 'cures'. We used to submerge patients in icy baths, should we bring that back too? What about hanging the odd frog round your neck, don't fancy my chances with that either.

We do seem to hang back when it comes to withdrawing treatments for some reason, and yet drugs that have been proved to be beneficial are withheld for years because some beaurocrat 'isn't sure', maybe a couple of jolts would help him decide???

I was accidentally electrocuted by faulty wiring some years ago, I certainly would run a mile at the thought of this :-)


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Bumpsysmum, I agree. The barbaric things that are still allowed amazes me. I got tangled in an electric fence as a child and still remember that horrible feeling. It is inhuman to subject any living creature to that. And the whole thing assumes all mental illness is physical. We know much of it is emotional!

Thanks for the visit. I treasure your comments.


Bumpsysmum profile image

Bumpsysmum 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

Not only is it not physical much of it is chemical and would not benefit from a surge of electricity! I have suffered from depression for a couple of years and the effect is a chemical reaction to excess stress. I think the old adage 'the lunatics are running the asylum' is not so far from the truth :-)


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Exactly Bumpsysmum! My struggle with depression was from loss and learning to grow in strength through Christ. Electric shock would have terrified me and made me more depressed at fear. I agree, the lunatics are runing the asylum!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Whoah... electric shock... no thanks!! Great Hub!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

It 'shocks' me, just thinking about people having to endure ECT, and it's still in practice today. President Kennedy had a Sister who had this, plus they did a lobotomy, she spent her entire life in an institution. Very interesting article. Thank you.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Why thank you Simone, I appreciate the visit and comment. And I agree entirely. No shock for me or mine!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello always. I had read about Rosemary Kennedy. She was never the same and had to be cared for the rest of her life. And all because she was "excitable".

I am glad you found the Hub interesting. I hope it helps people understand and fight against these barbaric procedures. Now the medical communityis trying this on vulnerable autistic children!


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Hyphenbird, you've obviously really done your research on this. I am so sorry you had to experience the fear (much less the problems/illness) brought on someone close to you. I have read a good bit about the procedure and talked with a few health-care pros. I've only heard one comment that was questionably pro, and I read one article by a woman who claims it was the best thing she ever did, although she was terrified. Have read/hear nothing else pro. Really good piece, and I'm bookmarking it. Thank you for so much good and interesting info.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Teylina. Yes, I researched a long time while putting this together. Thank you for your sweet compassion. I believe this is a legal form of torture and nothing good comes from it. I saw some horrible videos while researching. I decided not to include them in the Hub because they were so violent and graphic.

Thanks for stopping in and the great comment.


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

I'm glad you didn't. From the very little I've heard/read, I believe every word you say; I think maybe they just didn't have the guts to say it like it is. Again, a really good piece about a horror often incurred w/o enough info. Thank you again, and I meant what I said. Cannot imagine that degree; been thru some, but not that. Hope all's even a little better. Know where you get some of your insight!


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Teylina, the pain-physical and mental-caused by this procedure is unthinkable. My heart breaks that one feels desperate enough to submit to torture. Some of that pressure is caused by society and some by family. Altogether a tragedy.

Thanks for the revisit.


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

I'll be revisiting to check out what others have to say. Still think you're on the right track, though.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Many thanks friend Teylina.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

I have known several patients that received ECT in the 1980s and 1990s, all with no good long-term results. A temporary memory loss helped the anxiety, but when memory returned, so did the problems. One person was a bright straight-A college student that flunked out of school after ECT - and she contracted depression AFTER the ECT series.

I don't like it as a therapy option.

Safe for an in-utero baby whose CNS is not developed fully? I'd like to follow these kids for 5 years after birth and see's what's up.

Thanks for the outstanding Hub!


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Thanks for the input, Patty. I'm following this from studies and special interest: appreciate your expertise! Sure Hyphenbird does, too.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Patty, thanks for the comments. It is good to hear from people trained andwith experience. I aso wonder about the effects on a child who was in utero at the time. The one instance I am personally aware of was not a good outcome. And the woman in my life who underwent this procedure suffered horribly from depression, anxiety and many fears. It was terrible to witness. I appreciate the visit very much.

Teylina, thanks for following this Hub. Please post any updates or news you come across.


cmahan profile image

cmahan 5 years ago from Michigan

You know, I can understand in the late 1800s and even early in the 1900s when medical advances just did not exist that these sort of things happened. I studied psychology for a long time (every single college elective class LOL) and was always amazed with the history behind certain practices. It is sad to think about, crazy even (for lack of a better word) but back then people simply did not know better. Without some of the things they did, we would not know some of the things we learned and know now. It does not make it any easier to think about and I certainly do not approve of these types of actions (because they certainly aren't treatments)today.

I've written a few thesis papers on treatments of the past and how awful they were for people. When you start digging in actual medical records it is even worse than information you find on the internet.

I think its great when others write about this sort of topic. There are so many people out there in the world that still have no idea that this sort of thing exists.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hi cmahan. As I was researching for this Hub, I found some very disturbing videos on medical sites. I could not watch most of them! In your studies I can only imagine the types of things uncovered. I also think some scientists and doctors really didn't know any better. Now though it is amazing that these things still occur.

I am glad you found this Hub. It is great to hear from with medical knowledge. Thanks for the great and informative comments.


Jasmine 4 years ago

My mother was subjected 2 ect. I have been tortured by electric shocks 4 the past 5 years against my will. Dont trust the uk


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Jasmine. It is a horrible thing. When the Nazis did it we called it torture. Yet doctors can legally use this monstrous procedure on human beings. I am so sorry this happened to you and to your mother. Bless you.


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Since I'm trying to "get back on hp as I want to," and am cleaning out some old files, I'll keep an eye out for the article I commented on before (think kept it). I am following this hub, and Jasmine, distrust is often the best avenue. Hope you and your mom have or are recovering from the issues that brought this on in your family, and you're not scarred by ptsd or bitterness. Take care--you and Hyphenbird.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hi Teylina. I do appreciate you dropping by and offering words of encouragement for Jasmine. Thank you friend.


sandy elswick 4 years ago

my mom suffered her whole adult life as a result of shock treatments. i feel i never had a mom because she just was not there mentally. me and my siblings were left to fend for ourselfs growing up. she would just stare out of the windows for the longest times . her memory was gone and in the end , she shot herself in the head and killed herself . ive nevered recovered from it.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Sandy. I am so very sorry about your mother. When the Nazi's were doing electric shock, it was called torture. Yet it is used on helpless, suffering people. I am saddened for everyone who has been forced to endure this pain and for people like you were still feel the fallout. I am glad you found this Hub and left me this message. I shall keep you in my heart.


Carolyn 4 years ago

this was an interesting read and I thank you for the information. My family and I are dealing with a difficult issue with our Mom and she claims to have had ECT as a child, but no one can confirm or deny. I was trying to do research into why they would do this to children to see if I could find a thread of sanity to this claim. Great information again, very much appreciated.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Carolyn. I am so glad you found this Hub and left a comment. How old is your mom? It is very possible this happened to her. My own mother suffered all her life because of having this awful procedure. Many people suffer PSTD and night terrors. Electric shock is something abnormal to the body and the brain is not equipped to handle such a thing. I shall pray for your mother and indeed for all of you who love her.


anobserver 4 years ago

Hi, I've had ETC myself and it's not as scary as it used to be, or maybe it depends on the person. I got no damage from it, I don't remember any pain or discomfort, other than the one from the anesthesia. It didn't help me either though. I received it three times when i was 16, without my consent, only with my parents of course.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

anoberver, thank you for sharing your experience. What year was this done to you? In the past, no anesthesia was administered. I am so glad you do not remember that experience. Again, thanks for coming by and leaving us a comment.


brohank20@yahoo.com 4 years ago

I READ THROUGH THESE COMMENTS ON ETC TREATMENTS AND I SEE THAT THEY ARE WRITTEN BY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT. I HAVE HAD 24 TREATMENTS IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS AND THEY HAVE WORKED MIRACLES FOR ME. I AM THE TYPE THAT CAN NOT TAKE ANY OF THE ANTI DEPRESSANTS . I HAVE SEEN MANY HEALED FROM DEPRESSION IN MY VISITS TO THE HOSPITAL. THEY AR GREAT AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO CANT TAKE MEDICINES ARE HAPPY PEOPLE TODAY. STUDY A SUBJECT BEFORE YOU WRITE ABOUT. I AM SAD THAT THERE are SO MANY NEGATIVE THINGS TO SCARE THOSE WHO COULD BENEFIT FROM THIS THEREPY. HANK DE GROAT


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Hank. I am very glad this treatment has worked for you. However I did study the subject and have been personally affected by it. It is indeed a scary subject and "therapy". In the past, patients were not anesthetized or sedated. They felt every jolt of electricity. Many still suffer from improperly administered EST. I value your input and am glad you left your comments. Please remember though, as antidepressants did not work for you, this does not work for many others. Thanks for your visit and input on this very serious subject.


meloncauli profile image

meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

Great hub. I read recently that a new study/report shows that ECT does in fact cause some brain damage.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello meloncauli. It does indeed. Any type of severe electric shock is traumatic to the body and brain. The very idea of EST is based on that. The proponents say the trauma is beneficial though. The brain is very sensitive and this "therapy" has been used to kill death row prisoners so why would we use it to heal? the whole idea just doesn't make sense.

Thank you for reading this Hub and leaving your comments. PS-I love how you spelled your user name.


zuluepsom 4 years ago

My mum had EST in the 70's. She was never the same since and now she has Alzheimers!! I think this has been brought about prematurely because of the EST. Do NOT recommend this treatment for anyone - rather take anti depressants for few months.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello zuluepsom. My mom had it also and was never the same. She was eternally depressed, anxious and terrified it would happen to her again. She tried to hide her depressions so she would not get sent back for EST. I can believe it causes Alzheimers and dementia because it damages the brain. In my opinion, it should be illegal. When the Nazis did it, it was called torture but doctors do it and call it therapy. It destroyed my mother. I would never recommend it. Thank you for coming by and leaving your comments and input. I pray your mom remains well for a long time. Bless you all.


Jimmie 4 years ago

Because of chronic pain after back surgery, I have "lost" my life! Depression because physically, I am a "useless" body. Admitted myself into a "clinic" of a prestegious hospital with the assurance that a "team" of doctors would address both physical AND depression problems. The only option given to me was to have EST! There was no evaluation of my physical condition (chronic pain) nor what would happen to my nervous system if EST was administered. I checked myself the next day but had an "in your face" confrontation with the "staff," who tried to convince me that I could not leave the facility without treatment (Electro Shock Theropy)! I am contiplating making a complaint to the Joint Commission. How many people have beec cohersed into having this treatment against their will? If I can save others, I will take action against this facility.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Jimmie, I am so sorry. The pressure they put on you to have this procedure does not surprise me at all. I wish it did. My personal opinion is that many people have been coerced into this and suffered for it. I believe it to be inhumane and awful. Let us know what happens in your life. Bless you.


gsidley profile image

gsidley 4 years ago from Lancashire, England

Hi Hyphenbird

I've just stumbled on your hub and found it very interesting. In particular, the personal experiences described so vividly by Sylvia Plath are memorable and disturbing (in equal measure).

As a mental health professional in the UK I can confirm that ECT continues to be used regularly within psychiatric services. There is some evidence for its effectiveness with a small group of severely depressed individuals,but the benefits are short-lived and the side-effects (particularly memory loss) make the treatment difficult to justify in the large majority of cases.

I've recently written a hub on a similar topic, detailing a number of barbaric treatments (including ECT) used by psychiatry over the last 200 years. I'd be interested to hear your considered view so feel free to drop by and leave your comment.

Best wishes


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello gsidley. I will to your Hub right now. I can not fathom why this still is allowed. There are so many other ways to treat mental illness. This will never be morally right and I believe one day it will be illegal everywhere. The Nazis used it on prisoners so it just cannot be therapeutic. My own poor mother suffered memory loss and sever depression after being forcibly subjected to EST. Thank you for stopping by. See you ar your place soon.


Gianna 4 years ago

I can agree with you 100 percent. ECT Shouldn't be recommend by any type of doctor because it may cause severe injuries to the brain and rarely works on humans and/or other living things. Do you have a choice or are you forced to have it done to you?


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Gianna. My mother was forced to undergo this horrific procedure. She was never the same. Electric currents to any living body is not normal and causes irreparable harm. Thanks for finding this and leaving your comments. Please feel free to share it with others.


AKC 4 years ago

ECT sounds like a very painful and perhaps unnecessary form of treatment even for acute mental illness. But, this particular blog seems to be extremely biased since there is no comment here about any success story of ECT. If this practice is still in use by qualified professionals, it must have another side of the story. The only suggetion I can make is to study many other blogs on the subject and consult with a qualified psychiatrist if you have a need. Do not rely on this blog alone.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello AKC. I suppose I am biased because I have seen how this horror affects people. The body is not designed to withstand electrical shocks. It is just not something we tolerate well. One of the comments here is supportive of this practice and I know there are others. Regardless of bias or personal opinion, one should never rely on an internet article over a physician's advice. That is not my intention, but to make readers aware of this terrible thing done to already suffering people.

Thank you for reading the article and taking time to comment. I appreciate that.


Mike 4 years ago

When I was 21 I had a severe psychotic episode which resulted in me being hospitalized for a few months. Because I couldn't make any rational decisions myself my parents approved a course of ECT. I don't remember too much about this now (I am now 46) but I do remember the severe headaches as I came around from the sedatives. My only comment is it worked for me and I recovered fully in a relatively short time. Doctors do not understand why it works but it does in certain patients and I am living proof of this. I have gone on to a very successful career without any further episodes.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Mike. Thank you for coming by and leaving your comments. It is interesting to know everyone's personal experience. I am not convinced the ECT was the ultimate thing that helped you. You had an episode and it ended. Episodes run their course. I believe electric shocks to the brain are never healthy or beneficial. But I know each of us has his own opinion and I respect yours. Thanks again for stopping by.


robert 4 years ago

As a young man my father and sister arranged a legal commitment for me to receive ECT. I was a lab. tech. at the hospital where they were to be administered. This was all done without my knowledge until I was being escourted to the psych. wing and I put the pieces together, short of the security door of the unit. I bolted, God only knows why and left in tears for the next 24 hours. This was all premeditated by my father, sister, and the nursing administrator. The sole purpose of this was to make me heterosexual and fit their Germanic family standards. The stigma of that event and its myriad possible outcomes has haunted me all of my life, I think no less then as if it has actually occurred. The italian physician who concieved ECT on his deathbed lamented that he had created such a monstrocity. I truly have compassion for its broken, helpless victims, having by grace only, escaped myself.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Robert. Your story made me cry with compassion and horror. I am glad you managed to escape. When the state executes criminals with electricity, I cannot comprehend how they think it is safe to treat mental illness. Your won understanding and compassion prove what a frightening thing this is. To withstand an electrical shock is just not something a living body should be forced to undergo. The damage is immense and I am glad the inventor saw the horror he had created. I have trouble believing it is still used even now. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. I hope it helps someone else. Bless you Robert.


amnewf 3 years ago

As a 16 yr.old I was going through my terrible teen years. My parents took me to see a psychiatrist thinking he would solve my rebellious ways..which I felt were no worse than some of my other friends. Well he had me do a bunch of ink blob tests and before I could turn around I was in a locked ward of a hospital. My parents had no idea what I was going to be subjected to except that they were sure it was necessary as it was what the doctor recommended. I had 17 electric shock treatments in less than a month. In the morning I was given a needle that dried out my mouth and from there rolled into a room where a metal cap of some sort was put over my head after that no memory until late afternoon when I awoke and felt like a drugged up zombie wondering where I was and what was wrong with me. It even left burn marks on my head where the probes were in contact with my scalp. After treatments were finished I had to return to high school where I could not remember the names of friends I had known all my life let alone my school work. I was a good student that now remembered nothing and dropped out in my last year. That darn treatment messed up my entire life and left me with very low self esteem. Even today at 60yrs. old it leaves me with a terrible feeling just to think of it and I will always carry some anger inside towards the doctor who put me through this in what should have been the best years of my life. How could anyone administer such a cruel treatment to a teenager that was just too full of life as a method to calm them down and behave like a controlled zombie. Yes I am very bitter when it comes to the inventor of this inhuman treatment.


gsidley profile image

gsidley 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

Wasn't is Thomas Szasz who said that psychiatrists were the modern day witch-finders? This appalling story provides stark illustration.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Yes, it does gsidley. The concept of electric shock treatment is incredibly barbaric. I pray for the day it is illegal.

amnewf, I am so sorry this happened to you. So many people suffered this tragedy. It breaks my heart.


Daisy Brandegee 3 years ago

In 1963 I had electric shock treatment two or three times when I was 14 years old. I was rebellious and had run away from home several times, resented authority and this was supposedly the cure. I don't really remember much about it, the horror of it, but I have had to deal with memory loss my entire life. Big blocks of time are gone. Short time memory is okay - but there are whole years that I can't remember anything about - like when I was 11, 12 and 13. Subsequent to the therapy, there are many things I should have remembered and yet can not. Even though I dropped out of high school when I was 16, I managed to get accepted by and graduate from a large university and have had a successful career. It is just so sad that memories of my life, my children and events in the past can't be remembered. Sorry to say that I will never forgive my parents for allowing this to happen.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Daisy, I am so sorry that happened to you. This so called therapy is horrible and destructive. Please do forgive your parents. I believe the medical community misrepresented this treatment to people. Your parents likely were deceived themselves. In any regard, forgive your parents. Spiritually we must forgive so WE can be released from the past pain and hurts. It is something we do for God and ourselves rather than the offender. Their release is a side benefit. I am so very glad you found this article. Please stop back by from time to time and let us know how you are doing.


Irene Schultz 3 years ago

My mother had shock treatment's in the late eighty's. I'am not sure if they helped her or that they, found med's that would help her. Because, the other doctors before this doctor misdiagnoised her. She is bipolar, she was fine for years. Than 4 years ago, she start getting them again, now she has anxiety, memory lost, and parnoia. , It is so sad that it's my moms body, but not her mind.


William Hatten 2 years ago

In 1962 I had shock treamint when I put that thing in my mouth from that time till the end of that school it was like being a sleep with no dreams or no then . After that I was in the 3 rd. grade for 4 years till San Anglo put up to the 5 the grade still a year behind still having problem today at the age of 60


Rose Hill 2 years ago

My mother had shock treatments back in the 50's and 60's. It first started for her when I was born and then again when her father died and and major life stress happened to her. As I look back now I'm grown I'm sure they did what they thought was the right thing back in the day but I can still remember going down that long hall where everyone that had had a treatment was sitting on a long bench next to each other staring stright ahead just waiting for someone to come and get them. I really think that I takes who they are away from them their will to disagree with anyone or anything and just do as they are told. I'm appoilled that this treatment is still going on today !!!! It should have been stopped years ago no one should have to go through what anyone that has had a shock treatment has gone through. If the doctors can't find a way to reach them then they aren't very good at their jobs. My mother was in a private hospital. Over the years she was in it off and on. The only person the doctor talked to was my father he never talked to anyone else in the family which looking back as an adult I realize that wasn't very good. My father could control my mother not that he really did but then in some ways he did. I believe any doctor that is any good at their job needs to treat the whole family not just get one person's opinion on how things are going with the one that is sick because that person could be part of the problem and then they would really be in control.


LisaGina68 2 years ago

Looking for law firm or group who may be able to help me.

in 2010 I was misdiagnosed with bipolar. but did not know this until another facility told me this 3 years later. although past the sol in NY I was wondering about Civil rights, or due process etc. as for what they did to a other wise healthy woman's brain. Without informed consent. drugged me in 32 days with 17 meds, shock treatments

and sent me to out patient for 3 plus years thus far. How can the SOL in NY be tolled. There was no disclosure made due to out patient just disclosed life changing information for the first time. the ed report was accurate, then from there to admissions. Everything went wrong. And is documented in black and white. Instead of treating me for an incident of one time.. they gave a psychiatric admissions diagnosis that I DID NOT HAVE THEN, and it has been proven by the slow wean off (took 3 years) to get off of all the drugs that were give for a person whom had a Mental Illness, However ..is documented that I was diagnosed wrong, medication error after errors were made, and no disclosure was given until recently. Please advise.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 2 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello LisaGina. I am so sorry that happened to you. This "treatment" is so wrong and is horrific. I have no legal experience or training so I can only advise you to seek a personal injury attorney. I hope it all works out for you.


B. S. Hartshorn 2 years ago

Last year I had to go to a Con. Hospital for a 2 week rest. They electric me twice to the point snot ran out of my nose & my mouth was so dry that I was chocking. They did it several other times but not that strong. It was a punishment. That was in Fresno, Fresno, CA. second floor. That's not all that went on there.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 2 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

I am so very sorry that happened to you. I do believe many horrors still are perpetuated in places where mental illness is supposed to be treated. Bless you. I shall be praying for you.


ScrapbookerMom 18 months ago

I had several of these treatments in the late 1960s, not knowing what they would do to me. I was not a mentally ill person, I just suffered with severe anxieity and the dr. assured me they would help....not expounding on the side-effects. As my husband stood by and watched, he finally decided he'd seen enough and made me stop. I'm so thankful now that he did. I now have some major loss of memory because of the shocks. I fail to recall a lot of my childhood and I have episodes of vertigo which I never had before these treatments. That's been almost 50 years ago. My husband was so angry with the dr. who sent me to this psychiatrist, and with the psychiatrist that he refused to pay the balance of what he owed .... for damages he did to me. He threatened to sue me but my husband threated to sue him for what he did to me....I never heard from him again. I wish now I had followed up and brought a law suit against the dr. He's probably passed away by now. I know I still sluffer with side effects after all these years. BTW, I did get relief from the anxiety with therapy from a well qualified psycologist and from my faith in God.

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