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What is the most controversial psychotherapy?

What is the most controversial psychotherapy?

What is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a psychiatric treatment in which a patient is administered a short electric shock to their brain. It is used to treat people who suffer from severe depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders. ECT has been used since the 1940s, and has been controversial ever since.

ECT works by sending an electric current through the brain, causing a seizure. This seizure is thought to affect the brain’s chemistry and help alleviate symptoms of mental illness. While ECT is generally safe, it is associated with some risks, including memory loss and confusion.

The Controversy Surrounding ECT

The controversy surrounding ECT stems from the fact that it is an invasive treatment with potential risks. It is also seen as a violation of patient autonomy, as some feel that ECT should only be used in cases where the patient is unable to give informed consent.

Furthermore, many believe that ECT is used too often, and is an easy solution for psychiatrists to employ rather than taking the time to properly diagnose and treat mental illness. Additionally, there is a lack of evidence to support the efficacy of ECT, as it has not been studied as extensively as other treatments for mental illness.

The Death of Ernest Hemingway

One of the most famous cases of ECT-related death is Ernest Hemingway, the American author who died by suicide shortly after undergoing ECT at the Mayo Clinic in 1961. Hemingway reportedly said of ECT, “What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business?”

Hemingway’s death sparked a debate about the safety and efficacy of ECT and its use in treating mental illness. It also led to the formation of advocacy groups, such as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which campaigns against the use of ECT and other psychiatric treatments.

The Benefits of ECT

Despite the controversy surrounding ECT, there are some potential benefits associated with the treatment. ECT has been shown to be effective in treating severe depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses. It can also be a life-saving treatment for those suffering from severe mental illness who are at risk of harm to themselves or others.

ECT is also a relatively low-cost treatment that can be administered quickly and easily, making it an attractive option for some patients. Additionally, it has been found to be effective in some cases where other treatments have failed.


ECT is a controversial treatment that is associated with some risks and has been the subject of much debate. However, it is also a potentially life-saving treatment that can be effective in treating severe mental illness when other treatments have failed. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of ECT before making a decision about whether or not to undergo the treatment.