Cover image for Electroshock : restoring the mind
Electroshock : restoring the mind
Fink, Max, 1923-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 157 pages ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC485 .F473 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
RC485 .F473 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Electroshock therapy (ECT) has long suffered from a controversial and bizarre public image, a reputation that has effectively removed it as a treatment option for many patients. In Electroshock, Max Fink, M.D., draws on 45 years of clinical and research experience to argue that ECT is now asafe, effective, painless, and sometimes life-saving treatment for emotional and mental disorders. Dr. Fink discusses the development of ECT from its discovery in 1934, its acceptance and widespread use for two decades until it was largely replaced by the introduction of psychotropic drugs in the 1950s, and its revival in the past twenty years as a viable treatment now that undesirableside-effects have been largely removed. He provides case studies of actual patients and the testimonies of their family members to illuminate successful responses. Many disorders, such as depression, mania, catatonia, and schizophrenia, respond well to ECT. We learn what the patient experiences, asthe author explains the whole procedure from preparation to recovery. He also shows how anesthesia and muscle relaxation have refined ECT, minimizing discomfort and reducing its risks to a level far lower than many of the psychotropic drugs routinely prescribed for the same problems. An excellent sourcebook for patients, their families, caretakers, and mental health professionals, Electroshock clarifies misconceptions about ECT. For those who suffer from mental and emotional disorders, it offers a safe and highly effective treatment.

Author Notes

Max Fink, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology Emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Attending Psychiatrist at the Long Island Jewish-Hillside Hospital Medical Center. He is the author of Convulsive Therapy: Theory and Practice, Psychobiology of ConvulsiveTherapy, and other books. He lives in Nissequogue, New York.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Many have heard horror stories about electroconvulsive therapy, or electroshock (ES). But much has changed since the 1930s, when this psychiatric treatment was initially used. Fink has considerable experience with ES and describes its history and current status. Improvements in relaxing drugs and in anesthesia and major changes in ES equipment have made it an important, safe, and effective tool for treatment of mood, thought, and movement disorders. ES is, according to Fink, safer than the many potent drugs now given out almost automatically, and it can be administered safely even to the pregnant and the elderly. In the U.S., however, it is often seen only as a last resort--and a costly one, at that. Any psychiatric treatment, including ES, works best if the patient is diagnosed early, Fink stresses, and if ES is delayed, the patient is put at a disadvantage. Cost seems high because HMOs count the whole treatment time, rather than that taken up by ES, in reckoning charges. Thus, the U.S. is far behind other countries in rehabilitating a valuable therapy. --William Beatty

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1. What Is Electroshock?p. 1
2. The Patient's Experiencep. 4
3. Risks and Contraindicationsp. 16
4. Technical Features of the Treatmentp. 25
5. Depressive Mood Disordersp. 31
6. Manic Mood Disordersp. 52
7. Thought Disordersp. 61
8. Movement Disordersp. 69
9. How Does It Work?p. 80
10. The Origins of Electroshock Therapyp. 85
11. Controversy in Electroshockp. 92
12. Electroshock in the 1990sp. 105
Appendix 1 Diagnoses in Which ECT Is Considered Effectivep. 111
Appendix 2 Diagnoses in Which ECT Is Considered Ineffectivep. 112
Appendix 3 Sample Consent Form for Electrotherapyp. 113
Appendix 4 Medicinesp. 115
Notesp. 117
Bibliographyp. 133
Indexp. 149