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Article
October 19, 1957

CHRONIC INTOLERABLE PAINDISCUSSION OF ITS MECHANISM AND REPORT OF EIGHT CASES TREATED WITH ELECTROSHOCK

JAMA. 1957;165(7):773-777. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980250007002
Abstract

The effectiveness of electroshock therapy in relieving chronic, intractable pain is illustrated in the case histories of eight patients. In five of these, surgical measures for relief of the primary cause of pain were ineffective, and the suffering of the patients was so severe, that some neurosurgical procedure such as lobotomy seemed to be the only alternative to the continued use of narcotics. The use of electroshock is theoretically justified in cases where the pain is probably the accompaniment of activity in certain reverberating circuits in the nervous system. It was justified in the present series by the practical results, since these eight patients, with but one exception, were successfully rehabilitated. Many of the electroshock treatments were given on an outpatient basis. Criteria for the selection of suitable cases remain to be defined, but it is clear that some patients can be saved by this means from the necessity of choosing between neurosurgery and drug addiction.

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