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Electroconvulsive therapy machine, 1940-1945

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a controversial psychiatric treatment. It was developed in Italy in 1938. ECT machines transmit electric currents to the brain in timed pulses. This causes a massive convulsion or seizure. It was thought possible to ‘shock’ a patient out of a severe mental disorder. This ECT machine may appear crude. However, it had a level of sophistication in that it was adjustable. It administered shocks ranging from 60-150 volts for a pre-set period of time, typically 0.2 seconds. The machine was produced in the 1940s. This was a few years before the first psychoactive drugs became available in 1953. Electroconvulsive therapy had always been controversial. Psychoactive drugs quickly became a competing therapy in psychiatric care. This ECT machine was used at Burden Neurological Institute until it was discontinued in the 1970s.

Object number:

2001-201

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