Tag Archives: ECT

New in Medical History: “‘Electroshock Therapy’ in the Third Reich”

The January 2017 issue of Medical History includes an article that may be of interest to AHP readers: “‘Electroshock Therapy’ in the Third Reich,” by Lara Rzesnitzek and Sascha Lang. The abstract reads,

The history of ‘electroshock therapy’ (now known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)) in Europe in the Third Reich is still a neglected chapter in medical history. Since Thomas Szasz’s ‘From the Slaughterhouse to the Madhouse’, prejudices have hindered a thorough historical analysis of the introduction and early application of electroshock therapy during the period of National Socialism and the Second World War. Contrary to the assumption of a ‘dialectics of healing and killing’, the introduction of electroshock therapy in the German Reich and occupied territories was neither especially swift nor radical. Electroshock therapy, much like the preceding ‘shock therapies’, insulin coma therapy and cardiazol convulsive therapy, contradicted the genetic dogma of schizophrenia, in which only one ‘treatment’ was permissible: primary prevention by sterilisation. However, industrial companies such as Siemens–Reiniger–Werke AG (SRW) embraced the new development in medical technology. Moreover, they knew how to use existing patents on the electrical anaesthesia used for slaughtering to maintain a leading position in the new electroshock therapy market. Only after the end of the official ‘euthanasia’ murder operation in August 1941, entitled T4, did the psychiatric elite begin to promote electroshock therapy as a modern ‘unspecific’ treatment in order to reframe psychiatry as an ‘honorable’ medical discipline. War-related shortages hindered even the then politically supported production of electroshock devices. Research into electroshock therapy remained minimal and was mainly concerned with internationally shared safety concerns regarding its clinical application. However, within the Third Reich, electroshock therapy was not only introduced in psychiatric hospitals, asylums, and in the Auschwitz concentration camp in order to get patients back to work, it was also modified for ‘euthanasia’ murder.

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New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

The December 2015 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Articles in this issue explore multiaxial assessment in the DSM-III, electroconvulsive therapy, and veridical hallucinations in France, among other topics. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Félix Voisin and the genesis of abnormals,” by Claude-Olivier Doron. The abstract reads,

This article traces the genealogy of the category of ‘abnormals’ in psychiatry. It focuses on the French alienist Felix Voisin (1794–1872) who played a decisive role in the creation of alienist knowledge and institutions for problem children, criminals, idiots and lunatics. After a presentation of the category of ‘abnormals’ as understood at the end of the nineteenth century, I identify in the works of Voisin a key moment in the concept’s evolution. I show how, based on concepts borrowed from phrenology and applied first to idiocy, Voisin allows alienism to establish links between the medico-legal (including penitentiary) and medical-educational fields (including difficult childhood). I stress the extent to which this enterprise is related to Voisin’s humanism, which claimed to remodel pedagogy and the right to punish on the anthropological particularities of individuals, in order to improve them.

“The nature of delusion: psychologically explicable? psychologically inexplicable? philosophically explicable? Part 1,” by J. Cutting and M. Musalek. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Hist. of Psychiatry: DSM-III, ECT, Veridical Hallucinations, & More

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New Exhibit! Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology at London’s Science Museum

London’s Science Museum is now exhibiting Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology. Supported by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the exhibit is on display until August 12, 2014 and is free for all visitors. The video above provides a quick look behind the scenes of the exhibit and a number of items from the exhibit are further highlighted on the Science Museum’s website here. The exhibit, the brain child (pun intended) of the Science Museum’s BPS Curator of Psychology Phil Loring,

explores how mental health conditions have been diagnosed and treated over the past 250 years.

Divided into four episodes between 1780 and 2014, this exhibition looks at key breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of the mind and the tools and methods of treatment that have been developed, from Mesmerism to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) bringing visitors up to date with the latest cutting edge research and its applications.

Bringing together psychology, other related sciences, medicine and human stories, the exhibition is illustrated through a rich array of historical and contemporary objects, artworks and archive images.

Updated: Much more on the exhibit on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, the latter featuring an interview by Claudia Hammond with curator Phil Loring and the music of the glass harmonica. Reviews of Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology can also be found at the Huffington Post and The Telegraph.

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New History of Medicine Website

The Science Museum, London launched a new website today called “Brought to Life.” The site provides a new history of medicine resource that includes 2,500 images from the Science Museum’s collection as well as descriptions of numerous individuals, technologies, objects, and themes from medicine’s history. According to the announcement made on the H-Net listserv for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, the website is scheduled to receive another 4,000 images over the coming year.

Continue reading New History of Medicine Website

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“Cukoo’s Nest” Hospital to be Demolished

Louise Fletcher a Nurse RatchedABC News is reporting that the mental hospital in Salem, Oregon that served as the set for the 1975 film version of Ken Kesey‘s 1962 novel, “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest” will soon be demolished. The film’s depiction of the mistreatment of patients and predatory staff is often cited as a significant part of the public backlash that took hold around that time against electroconvulsive (“shock”) therapy, psychosurgery, and state mental hospitals more broadly. It has also provided a focal point for psychiatrists’ criticism of the public understanding of how they actually treat patients. The film won five Academy Awards: best picture, director, actor, actress, and adapted screenplay. It also won six Golden Globe Awards.

The accuracy of the movie notwithstanding, the Oregon State Hospital at which it was filmed had many real life problems of its own, including, the news report says, Continue reading “Cukoo’s Nest” Hospital to be Demolished

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Do Stun Guns Cause Brain Injuries?

I’m not sure to what degree this counts as history of psychology, but it stuck me as an important psychology-related finding none the less. From a short article in the latest issue of the APA’s Monitor on Psychology (June, 2008, p. 12):

In a study of 62 police officers, researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medical Science in Chicago and the University of Illinois found that police officers who had been “tased” during training drills fared worse than a control group in attention, processing speed, and memory…. “It is a provocative finding because the kinds of dificulties that were observed… are the same kinds of changes we see in people who have suffered electrical shocks from accidents involving domestic power sources,” [co-author Neil] Pliskin says. Continue reading Do Stun Guns Cause Brain Injuries?

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