Why Electroshock Therapy Is Back

Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth. In the
mid-20th century, a standard treatment for severe depression was to attach electrodes
to a patient’s skull and turn on the juice, running an electrical current through the
brain that would cause a brief seizure – a process known as “electroshock therapy.” It
was *shockingly* brutal, sometimes causing broken bones and
temporary short term memory loss. Eventually, public awareness of these side effects led
to growing resistance to electroshock therapy and a steep decline in its use. But the thing was, electroshock DID work,
alleviating depression in ⅔ of patients – more than responded to drugs. Electrical
therapy likely works because depression seems to stem from when the brain’s regular electrical
signals misfire. Sending a jolt of electricity into the brain to induce a seizure might be
like hitting a “reset” button. So some doctors kept using electroshock despite its bad reputation.
But they began targeting the current to one side of the brain to try to reduce effects
on memory, and using anaesthesia and muscle-relaxants to prevent painful convulsions – keeping the
good effects while reducing the side effects. Today, the treatment – now called “electroconvulsive
therapy” – still causes headaches and some short-term memory loss, but its success short-circuiting
depression has sparked doctors to begin treating other brain illnesses with electricity. For
example, abnormal electrical activity in the brains of people with advanced Parkinson’s
disease immobilizes them and makes their muscles twitch. But sending regular pulses of electricity
at the brain regions involved in movement interrupts the misfiring, allowing the patients
to move more freely and to experience far fewer tremors. Lots of other brain diseases also involve
electrical signaling gone haywire, so electrical therapies may be able to benefit a lot more
people in the future. That is, assuming research keeps on charging a-head.
Thanks for watching MinuteEarth! If you love what we do, you can support us by going to
Patreon.com/MinuteEarth and pledging as little as a dollar per episode. If you’d rather,
you can also support us right here on YouTube – just click the “Sponsor” button below
the video to sign up! Your support means we can spend more time exploring and explaining
everything from disease therapies to plant strategies to animal phallus-ies. Thanks!


  1. Except you guys are forgetting that ECT is still poorly understood, even relative to psychiatric meds, and is still being used as a first line of treatment in cases of depression that aren't nearly severe enough or unresponsive to conventional treatment to warrent such extreme cases.

    Had ECT pushed on me too many times in my journey through the mental health treatment, and before pills or workshops or day programs or things like CBT and DBT, or in other words, mostly things that leave no lasting side effects nor carry any significant risk.

    I have never met anyone who went through ECT and reported good outcomes.

    For a channel that claims to have no medical expertise it sure looks like you are biased. Maybe do your research instead of simplifying things like this as a means of generating views from controversial topics like this.

  2. An interesting alternative to this that's started to be used in the last 10 years is TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It uses magnetic fields to induce electrical fields in the brain instead of directly applying it, so no pain and waaay fewer seizures!

  3. This is really pissing me off. This video  is  an  insult to the tens of thousands  of victims to  this  terrible form of pseudoscience. At least  the explanation of how  the torture technique  works isn't simplified: it  is actually  this  simple and  backwards: at the end of the 19th century electricity was seen  as  very fashionable,  and thus became the latest in a long line  of dangerous and  insane curealls, the next one historically being nuclear radiation in the beginning of the 20th century just to give  you an idea. Of course accidents happen and  thus people realized that when getting an electric shock the brain was affected, generating uncontrolled movements just like epileptic seizures did. Thus was born the idea that a strong  electric  current through the brain from one side  to the other would "realign" the missaligned components in the brain in a single unified direction which would cure the illness. Of course they immediately had  great results: if  permanent brain damage didn't "cure" the patient from their fits of agitation or epilepsy, the terrible fear they had  of going through that absolutely horrible experience again  would have them putting every last bit  of energy  and self control they had into looking as cured as possible  to the good Dr who had his hand on the torture switch. And thus the technique, which by the way was as cheap, quick and easy as it gets, requiring no work, the machines   being operable by pretty much anyone in the ward but the janitor, was put in action widely across psych wards everywere, most of the time it was used as punishment immediately after a patient had a fit of anger, stress, or any kind of behavior that the personnel didn't like, in fact it was recommended by the manufacturer so that in any case, even if the therapeutic effect didn't occur, the punitive one from the "discomfort" involved in the whole ordeal of being tied to  atable arms and feet and electrocuted sure did.Nowadays this torture is used when everything else fails which means a lot since psychiatry  really isn't  much of a science  at all, as a way of not saying "we don't know how to help this person, let's find out",  so that instead we can say "let's try this device. We've had great results… It's proven technology."Please next time do the research  instead of this god awful piece probably copied from a single source, I've lost a friend to this form of torture, a brilliant person who could have done great good for all of us, instead they killed him without even having the decency to actually do it.

  4. ECT is repetitive craniocerebral trauma. It causes brain damage, memory loss, destroys lives, and drives people to suicide.

  5. That was shockingly superficial and right away propaganda for a method of torture, that has been banned for good reasons. I can assume, what you thought or implemented, but, sorry, no.

  6. Hope i will die before any dockters get their hands on me. btw getting depressed watching this.. drugs and shocks as cures, haha, not in my book. for those interrested what is in my book, just quit living upto excpectations of others and you will cure your own depression.

  7. ECT is repeated electrical injury plus grand mal seizures. Go to ectjustice.com for research information.

  8. My aunt was a victim of science. She is strongly against science and metal health. It's basically abuse through pain.

  9. My aunt is suffering with dementia from her 20's because of an electroshock therapy that she took for suposedly psychologycal issues that she had so i dont have the best impresions of this type of therapy but if it has helped people and it's showing improvement im gona keep an open mind about it i don't know maybe

  10. Common medical practice in modern times is to treat symptoms instead of getting to the root of problems (for profit, of course). Earnest Hemingway's suicide was said to have been due (in part) to electroshock therapy. If a morbidly obese person doesn't change their diet plan, it does't matter how many cholesterol pills they're prescribed. In the same way, it may be more prude for someone who has depression (obviously due to traumatic experience) to seek out alternatives to being addicted to Pfizer's latest-and-greatest new drugs.

  11. As a tenured professor of psychology, I can say with utmost conviction that this is nothing more than medieval, or even primal torture. . . YOU'RE INDUCING A SEIZURE!!! What part of
    S E I Z U R E don't you understand? Those who would voluntarily submit to such a procedure, don't deserve their brain anyway. Shame on Youtube for allowing this to propagate. It's analogous to involuntary sterilization, which, by the way, used to be constitutional. There is a myth in psychology that people use only 10% of their brain. Indeed this is an untrue statement. However for those who created and profess this rubbish, I think 10% brain usage may be either accurate or an overstatement. Learn how to distinguish fact from fiction. . . your brain will thank you.

  12. Utter garbage. Stuff is for old people, to drive them crazier. Just a tool of quack science used by the strong pro-drug war sect of the medical industry.

  13. The promotion of ECT is just a means of sugar coating a poison pill. The U.S. is headed toward a wave of severe socio-economic problems and it needs some way to repress the population from rebelling . It's just like the Soviet Union's use of psychiatric gulags to repress its failed soci-economic state.

  14. No you all are fools this slowly is killing you just like the food you eat or the poison you drink every day

  15. 0:36 clinical depression is a psychiatric technique used to get patients on antidepressants which will suppress serotonin, the side effect of which is that when you sleep you're still semiconscious. The reason there is so that a therapist or trusted individual can guide that patient through their life experiences to see what's making them depressed or act out. Electroshock is more or less a placebo making the patient who is coming off of antidepressants feel as if they've gone through treatment. It in fact does not physically help, though patients feel as if they are.

    I was personally experimented upon for a life time by the United States Navy and the United States Army, in addition to being subject to the same therapy I described by way of the San Mateo and Foster City police departments for road rage. I was fortunate to be able to dissect the whole process, and therefore conclude that psychiatry is essentially a police tool and tactic to discover what people have done.

    Carrie Fisher (of Princess Leia fame) went through electro shock therapy, and was still found with alcohol and cocaine in her system after she died. I therefore submit that electroshock, like all psychiatric "treatments" is a come on, and I denounce it as I denounce alleged anti-depressants.

    I urge the American people, and people of the world, to throw off current psychiatric methods, and to embrace neural science in its place.

    As such I think psychiatrist are essentially investigators, and should be locked up or worse for gaming the bill of rights for the US under the guise, misuse, and downright fraud of "medical treatment".

  16. this ignores many valid criticisms of what electroshock therapy was at the time, as it was so often done on patients without their consent. as effective as it might have been, it also had serious side effects and risks, and was also administered for conditions untreatable through electroshock.

  17. No just no why this is not a good it hurts people it should not be a thing it need to die why because it hurts brain and break bones like you say

  18. I have done electrical convulsive therapy for over a year now. It has saved my life. I took the last drug for depression on the market when it was suggested to me at the time. Since then, the depression has become much more manageable.

  19. No, ECT is an extremely damaging remnant of industrial revolution era pseudoscience, it has only been returned because the fucking therapists, psychiatrists and doctors have stocks in the producers of this vile torture equipment, those who re-introduced this crap should surely be put to the slowest, most painful death, like an undervolted electric chair, just to appease the spirit of irony of fate.

  20. I think I am going to hook up some jumper cables and give it a go that way. Say goodbye to depression among many other things.

  21. I was diagnosed with Parkinson"s syndrome in may of last year. I had essential tremors since age 55. I have a stooped posture, right arm was not moving. I also have a pulsating feeling in my body. My legs tingle and they were cold.i was advised to give a try on Total cure herbal foundation herbal formula by my doctors which i truly did and the herbal treatment help me get rid Parkinson disease PD within the short period of 15 weeks usage,please do not hesitate to place an order from them at www.totalcureherbsfoundation.com because the herbal products relief me automatically and terminated all the symptoms.

  22. can I Show parts of the video in a part of my Lenovo Miix 320 Review?
    My Lenovo Miix 320 causes electro chocks when you charge and touch another electronic device

  23. My grandmother had this and it was back in the 1920's and it fried her brain and she wasn't the same. It messed up her brain so bad that she was very frightened. Fried brains that's really going t0 help a patient making them go out of their minds and sometimes have criminal behavior. I almost had this. Its scary as hell. Most hospitals are.

  24. Are you saying that my seizures can be cured by inducing seizures?

    mind blown

    Actually though is there any scientific evidence supporting the theory that ECT helps epilepsy or is this just made up theorizing

  25. So seizures are normally bad but they also cure depression? Ok…..I hope my depression or ptsd never gets this bad like damn. I don’t wanna lose my memory or anything. I didn’t know my ptsd could also be an electrical signal thing too. Wow. The more you know.

  26. People go to school ro leaen how to poison peiple with drugs fooling people into thinking otherwise and torture peiple shocking the brain making people think that is a good tbing. A car is started with an electrical shoke. People are not a car. There are no pistons in tbe brain. We have Pavlovs dogs. I will pay ypu to shoke me. Money is what people love not people. Shock, shock, yum, money. I keep telling people what to do to help. existing conditions. Preventin us best. There are many techniques to avoided. people who twist, pull or pop the neck are not good. The activator device is not an adjusting device. Gonsted is not an upper cervical spesific only technique.

  27. ECT WORKS:
    You may not be yourself at the end of the treatment, but at least you won't have to confront the crippling thoughts that lead you to the point of destruction to begin with.

  28. This has nothing to do with anything in this video but my little sister just did the cutest thing. So she has this miniature toy kitchen and she was "cooking" (this is what she called it) "candy mush, mush" (she basically just pot skittles and chocolate dots on a tiny plate) but the cute thing is that I'm a vegetarian so dad always makes special food for me, and so she made special candy mush, mush for me.

  29. My buddy is braindamaged from this 'therapy' he walks sideways today like a crab.

    ECT is a cheap replacement for sessions with a psychologist

    I CANNOT believe that anybody in their right mind would advocate for sending electric current through the brain – with unforeseeable consequences

  30. It floors me to see shit like this. Look how this is presented – taking something like shooting hundreds of volts of electricity thru a human brain, which causes provable permanent memory loss and brain damage, headaches, etc – and makes it look safe and helpful. Does the name Josef Mengele ring similar here? Anyone? Nazi medical experiments? Ladies and gentlemen, don't believe this horseshit- google all about it and you'll see. (don't look at the funded websites, look for ECT survivors and their stories. There are countless numbers of these.)

  31. this has nothing to do with this video, but I think you should be called 'minutearth' with one 'e'. (just saying o'l Swilys opinion)

  32. New thumbnail:
    Same thing except it's a boy, not girl.


  33. Give a mentally disabled serial killer a ticket to the electric chair and they'd send you a gift card from hell

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published