The original logic behind the use of electroshock therapy as a tool to ease human psychological distress has some quite amusing, but at the same time, disturbing roots. The reasoning, debased as it may be, was based on accepted lines of thought of those times and proceeded something like this:
1. Epileptics, who have seizures, can not develop schizophrenia.
2. Electroshock of pigs at the time of slaughter causes a seizure.
3. Causing a seizure in humans will cure schizophrenia.
(Witch starts with "W". Wood starts with "W". Wood floats, and so witches, beginning with "W" of course will float. Throw her in the water and if she sinks, she wasn't a witch. Makes perfect sense to me)
1938 — Italian psychiatrists Ugo Cerletti and Lucino Bini introduced
Thus, the first ECT was carried out against the subject’s will,
Referring to the first use of electroshock
on a human being, Cerletti wrote,
summary based on
Frank J. Ayd Jr., “Guest Editorial: Ugo Cerletti (1877-1963),”
1938 — Cerletti had been worried that something might go wrong with the first treatment, and it was given in secret.... When the first treatment went well, we were allowed to attend the second treatment. We were called together for the treatment with a trumpet!...
According to my wife — because I don’t remember it exactly — she claims that when I came home I was very pale and said, “I saw something terrible today — I never want to see that again!”
LOTHAR B. KALINOWSKY (German-born U.S. electroshock psychiatrist and for many years the world’s leading authority on ECT, 1900-1992), quoted in Richard Abrams, “Interview with Lothar Kalinowsky, M.D.,” Convulsive Therapy, vol. 4, 1988. In 1933, Kalinowsky fled Germany for Italy where, between 1936 and 1939, he was associated with Cerletti. After arriving in the United States in 1940, he wrote hundreds of journal articles and co-authored several influential books on psychiatry’s physical treatments.