Is Shock Therapy Brutal??

Alexis Headding


The myth “electroconvulsive (“shock”) therapy is a physically dangerous and brutal treatment” can be described as just that, a myth. Many people believe that ECT is painful and unethical when in reality it is a treatment for mental disorders that sends an electrical current through the brain to induce a seizure. This seizure seems to change the chemistry of the brain to relieve symptoms of severe depression or bipolar disorders with side effects of maybe a headache and slight disorientation.

Reference in Pop Culture

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

In this scene of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Randle is sent in for ECT (as punishment) and his experience is nothing short of violent and brutal. This depiction of ECT is false due to many factors. One example is that a real patient would be under general anesthesia and another is there would be very small signs of the seizure if any at all unlike the movie where Randle is completely awake and experiencing a very violent seizure.

Why this is indeed a myth...

According to the Mayo Clinic, the patient is under general anesthesia and muscle relaxers the entire treatment. This treatment only takes about 10 minutes and an outpatient procedure proving that it is not very invasive and recovery is quick.