| The dangers of electroconvulsive therapy
See Dr. Breggin's new
ECT Resources Center
with more than 125 annotated scientific articles, glossary of searchable terms
and a brochure for patients and families.
ECT (electroconvulsive treatment) damages the brain and mind. In many cases, it results in huge permanent gaps in memory for important life events, educational background, and professional skills. The individual may even lose his or her identity. Even when much less harm is done, individuals continue to suffer from ongoing cognitive difficulties with learning and remembering new things, and with unwanted changes in their personalities. Dr. Breggin has now created a free ECT Resources Center that includes (1) a brochure for patients, families, and advocates, (2) introductory scientific articles that cover the field of ECT-induced harm to the brain and mind, and (3) more than 125 articles about ECT with search terms such as "brain damage," "memory loss," "women," and "abuse." The ECT Resources Center will help introduce newcomers to the field and provide research materials for advanced researchers as well.
The most detailed recent publication about the harm associated with ECT is found in a chapter in Dr. Breggin’s book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex, Second Edition (2008).
Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the first and only electroshock malpractice suit won by the injured patient. He was also the expert in a recent malpractice suit against an ECT doctor that resulted in a settlement of more than $1 million.
The acronym ECT stands for "ElectroConvulsive Therapy" (also called EST, for ElectroShock Therapy) a psychiatric treatment in which electricity
is applied to the head and passed through the brain to produce a grand
mal or major convulsion. The seizure brought about by the electric stimulus
closely resembles, but is more rigorous or strenuous than that found
in idiopathic epilepsy or in epilepsy following a wide variety of insults
to the brain.
Patients given ECT are administered an electric current of sufficient
intensity and duration to produce an acute organic brain syndrome,
characterized by the classic symptoms of disorientation to time, place,
and person; mental deterioration in all intellectual spheres such as
abstract reasoning, judgment, and insight; emotional lability with
extremes of apathy or euphoria; and overall childlike helplessness.