Insane Patients Helped by Electric Shock Treatment (Nov, 1940)

Insane Patients Helped by Electric Shock Treatment

Fighting insanity with electric shock is the most dramatic recent advance in the field of medicine. At the New York State Psychiatric Institute, in. New York City, seemingly hopeless cases of the most common forms of insanity, schizophrenia and dementia praecox, have been shocked back to apparent mental health by the new treatment. Electrodes, at the ends of a caliperlike instrument, are placed just in front of the ears on the patient’s head. From seventy to 100 volts of current pass through his brain. The result is a violent convulsion resembling an epileptic seizure.

In some cases, a single electric shock achieves what seems to be a medical miracle, restoring the patient to sanity. Previously, insulin, snake venom, and metrazol, have been used to produce shock. The electric treatment is painless, leaves no after effects, and costs less than shock-producing drugs.

  1. Stannous says: September 13, 200612:28 am

    by Joel T. Braslow, M.D., Ph.D.
    Introduced in the 1930s and known collectively as “shock” therapies, these treatments were actually three distinct, albeit overlapping, remedies: insulin, Metrazol, and electroconvusive therapy (ECT). While insulin and Metrazol have long since been abandoned, ECT continues to be widely used.
    In 1933, Manfred Sakel introduced insulin shock treatment (Insulinshockbehandlung) for psychotic patients. Massive doses of insulin were administered to patients to induce a state of hypoglycemic shock resulting in coma and near-death states before doctors resuscitated them with sugar solutions. Even with close surveillance, patients died at a rate of 1 to 2 percent from complications. Nevertheless, the treatment spread rapidly, reflecting the dire need for remedies for chronic psychotic disorders. Widespread application of insulin shock therapy was short-lived, however, and was quickly replaced by the much easier to administer ECT.

  2. Maddie says: November 7, 200711:54 am

    I loved the article, it was very atriculate. I dare to say it was electric! It was very shocking to read about something I did not already know.

  3. Tara Shedd says: December 10, 20081:08 pm

    I have an electro shock therapy machine that I’ve been told was designed by Frank Betz (Betts) and was the original invention that inspired other shock treatment machines to be invented. Does anyone know where I can find additional information? It is in very good condition and would love to have it go to someone who would appreciate its significance.

  4. markps2 says: July 4, 200911:17 am

    he electric treatment is painless, leaves no after effects,

    Its all lies, as they can get away with telling as they ( the people doing the proceedure) control the documented results. The science of brain damage as a cure for an nonexistant disease is beautiful.

  5. Firebrand38 says: July 4, 200911:24 am

    Yeah, you got to always watch out for “they”.

    The paranoids are all out to get me!

  6. Robert Faust says: October 22, 201110:05 am

    Sounds just too barbaric for even back then, but not as bad(?) as the non-forgiving screwdriver lobotomy.

  7. SandyKramer says: April 16, 20125:40 pm

    Robert Faust:
    Electric Shock Therapy is still in wide use.
    As controversial as it is, it beats the lobotomy in which an ice pick is used (through the eye) to destroy part of the brain.

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