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October 1957

Fear of Electroconvulsive TherapyNotes from a Patient's Diary

Author Affiliations


From Psychology Section, Psychiatry and Neurology Service, Veterans' Administration Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(4):385-391. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330400059008

It is the purpose of this paper to indicate the nature of the fear of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) expressed by a patient who kept a diary while undergoing such treatment. Heretofore, a personal document of this nature has not been available in the literature for study.

Previous studies concerned with the reactions of patients to ECT, other than the purely theoretical, have dealt with (1) observations of manifest fear2,3,11,20; (2) survey interviews before and after treatment10,13; (3) material elicited during a course of psychotherapy which followed ECT,15 and (4) in one instance,4 material written as a term paper sometime after treatment by a student who reminisced of his experiences as a patient. The uniqueness of the document to be presented here lies in the fact that it illuminates the day-by-day reactions to ECT of a very literate patient— reactions which were recorded while the emotional impressions