Electroshock (ECT)

Electroshock treatment
(ECT) was developed in 1938 at a time that lobotomy and insulin coma
therapy were already in use. Pioneer advocates of ECT openly
admitted that it caused irreversible brain damage. In 1979 Dr.
Breggin published the first medical book critical of ECT,
Electroshock: Its Brain-Disabling Effects
(New York: Springer Publishing Company). Dr. Breggin has advocated
the banning of ECT, but it continues to be used extensively in most
psychiatric facilities. In 1985 Dr. Breggin presented as the
scientific expert on the brain-damaging effects of the treatment at
the NIH Consensus Development Conference on ECT. In 2005 he was the
medical expert in the first-ever malpractice victory against a doctor who referred his patient for ECT.

The best source of
up-to-date information on ECT memory loss and brain damage can be
found in a chapter in Dr. Breggin’s book Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008).


Many of Dr. Breggin’s articles on ECT can be found in the Special Topics section under ECT. These articles also provide perspective into Dr. Breggin’s campaign to stop this barbaric treatment.



The FDA should test the safety of ECT machines (2010)

International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 22 (2010) 89-92. Peter R. Breggin Abstract: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and the machines that deliver it have never been tested for safety and efficacy in order to receive approval from the FDA. The American Psychiatric Association and ECT advocates protested when the FDA took steps to classify […]

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The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings

Despite ongoing controversy, there has never been a large-scale, prospective study of the cognitive effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). We conducted a prospective, naturalistic, longitudinal study of clinical and cognitive outcomes in patients with major depression treated at seven facilities in the New York City metropolitan area. Of 751 patients referred for ECT with a […]

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Electroshock: Scientific, Ethical, & Political Issues (1998)

Breggin, PR. (1998). International Journal of Risk & Safety In Medicine, 11:5-40. Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) is increasingly used in North America and there are attempts to further its use world-wide. However, most controlled studies of efficacy in depression indicate the treatment is no better than placebo, with no positive effect on the rate of suicide. Electroshockscientific.pbreggin.1998.pdf

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Neuropathology and Cognitive Dysfunction From ECT (1985)

Electroconvulsive Therapy, Consensus Development Conference, NIMH, June 10-12. ECT always produces some degree of immediate brain damage and mental dysfunction, and frequently the patient never fully recovers. Permanent brain damage from ECT is demonstrated through clinical evaluations, psychological tests, EEG studies, CAT scans, human autopsy studies, and research on the effect of electrical current on […]

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