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ECT Is Murder: The Historical and Political Roots of ECT and its Hold on Public Imagination By Sonia Soans

Electro Convulsive Therapy is one of those psychiatric treatments that has a strong hold on public imagination. One Flew over a Cuckoos Nest is iconic in its use of ECT as a treatment. The image of a patient being tied by and given electric shocks is hard to shake, brutality and force are ideas associated with this treatment. Inextricably tied to the profession of psychiatry it is born out of experiments with electricity and in abattoirs.

The image of the ‘mad person’ being subdued is powerful, it signals punishment for deviance. It plays on our fear of physical retribution. It is present in films, we have all seen a film where an agitated person was brought in kicking and screaming and given electric shocks only to be subdued. Read more