A Speech on Electroshock Therapy Is Not a Human Form of Therapy

“First, do no harm” is the treatment profession’s best-known ethical principle because in the actual process of medicine doctors may unwittingly do harm. Nevertheless, is it moral for doctors to give toxic treatments intentionally?

Such a type of action might be evaluated proper if no choice treatments are available, if the therapy is not only beneficial but likely to be life saving, if no intimidation is involved, and if true conscious permission is attained for the method. Unfortunately, electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) meets none of these circumstances. In fact, to the spectacle of truly moral physicians, there are various recent examples in the United States of America of the spontaneous administration of electroconvulsive treatment, over the oral repeated hopes of the patient.

The problem is rather than simple. The clarifying feature of electro convulsive treatment altered or unmodified, bilateral or unilateral that which differentiates it from any other therapy and is demonstrated in its name and it contains in the electrical induction of a generalized attack. This often leads to an acute organic brain disorder defined by amnesia, apathy, and euphoria.

Administering electroconvulsive to depressed or severely depressed sufferers shows an “effectiveness” (assessed by rating scales containing many items that would react to any non specific sedative intervention) remaining no more than four weeks to six weeks.  Within six months of receiving Electroconvulsive therapy or ETC eighty four percent of patients relapse. Electro convulsive treatment or ECT is not a life saving treatment. No reduction in suicide findings from its use, and some issues of boost in suicide may follow.

ECT is not safe for us at all: it generates varying percentages of memory loss and other negative effects on comprehension in nearly everyone who obtains it, commonly lasting weeks or months after the last treatment (as well as many other negative effects, from ocular consequences to postictal psychosis).

ECT is not crucial too: various alternatives, less toxic interventions—that work with the patient’s consciousness, courage, and social network—are accessible. ECT is too frequently given as the therapy of next resort (not, as some of its proponents would contend, last resort) when drug therapy has apparently failed, as drug therapy often does, particularly for the modal ECT patient today, a senior woman.

Less dangerous options are not contemplated for reasons having very little to do with the patient’s “condition” and very much to do with psychiatrists’ improving unfamiliarity with no biological interventions, professionals’ frustration sufferers are not regaining “quickly enough,” and some organizations’ reliance on the method as a revenue source.


Eventually, we propose that true knowledgeable consent is almost never attained, because virtually no one would sign a credible consent form for electro convulsive therapy or ECT (if any are those still on existence) unless coerced—grossly or subtly—to do so. Supporters of this treatment might claim that informed permission is scrupulously achieved, but it is at current impossible to analyze this claim appropriately. 

Certainly, despite the significance of disclosing the risks of this most contentious treatment in psychiatry, no study interpreting actual ECT permission forms used in various institutions (even a small specimen of two forms) has ever been publicized.

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