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August 8, 1959


Author Affiliations

New York

From the Neurological Institute of the Presbyterian Hospital of New York and the Department of Neurology, Columbia University.

JAMA. 1959;170(15):1791-1795. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010150035010

Electroshock therapy (EST) was used in 170 patients whose mental illness had not been ameliorated by intensive treatment with tranquilizing drugs. All of these patients were incapable of social or vocational activity before the EST and were rated 1 (lowest) on a 4-point scale. In another group of 131 patients the EST was given while the administration of tranquilizers was continued. Of the 170 patients, 117 (69 % ) had satisfactory results with EST, as measured by higher ratings on the scale. Simultaneous use of tranquilizers with EST did not reduce the number of EST treatments needed for good results, decrease apprehensiveness before treatments, or shorten the postconvulsive psychoses; neither did it increase the risks of EST. It did help in the management of agitated patients. It is therefore recommended only when specifically indicated in a given situation.