Dr. Peter Breggin’s ECT & DBS Resources Center
For Patients, Families, Professionals,
Advocates and Researchers
(scroll down for full page, over 150 scientific studies, searchable data)
ECT (electro-convulsive therapy, shock treatment or electroshock) involves the application of two electrodes to the head to pass electricity through the brain with the goal of causing an intense seizure or convulsion. The process always damages the brain, resulting each time in a temporary coma and often a flatlining of the brain waves, which is a sign of impending brain death. Flatlining is also called the “postictal suppression” or “electrical silence” of the brain waves and brain function that routinely follows the ECT seizure (Suppes et al., 1994). After one, two or three ECTs, the trauma causes typical symptoms of severe head trauma or injury including headache, nausea, memory loss, disorientation, confusion, impaired judgment, loss of personality, and emotional instability. These harmful effects worsen and some become permanent as routine treatment progresses.
If you are new to ECT or shock treatment, here are three suggested steps:
(1) Read and print out the ECT Introduction page. Or instead read and print out the same text in the form of a free color brochure “No One Should Be Given Shock Treatment” that is intended for patients, their families, and other concerned people.
Download and print this free brochure
“No One Should Be Given Shock Treatment“
(2) Read Dr. Breggin’s blogs on ECT. Like the brochure, these are also useful as an introduction for anyone who is just learning about ECT. See his blogs: “New Study Confirms Electroshock (ECT) Causes Brain Damage,” “The Stealth ECT Psychiatrist in Psychiatric Reform,” “FDA Panel Recommends Testing of ECT Machines,” “Electroshock for Children and Involuntary Adults.”
(3) Read Dr. Breggin’s two overview scientific articles: Breggin 1998 and Breggin 2010. The 2010 article contains a short summary of ECT’s damaging effects that was written to inform the FDA. Also read Jones and Baldwin 1992 for a powerful overview.
If you want to pursue the scientific literature concerning injury from ECT
in this resource center (more than 150 scientific papers), here are the steps:
(1) To begin an initial review of scientific reports in the “Table of Contents of Scientific Articles” (below on this page), you can start by searching the term “Key Article.” By searching “Key Article” you will locate a number of basic overview and research studies. Use the search mechanism on your browser by selecting “CTRL + F” and entering the word you want to search.
(2) To explore specific subjects in the “Table of Contents for Scientific Articles” (below), look through the list of “Search Terms” (Key Words) for special topics such as Memory, Women, Abuse, or Brain Damage. An extensive list of search terms with explanations is included below.
(3) To look for specific articles or authors, search by the last name of the first author on the article.
(4) To read a scientific book with an extensive chapter on ECT and a general presentation of the Brain-Disabling Principle of treatment in psychiatry, see P. Breggin (2008). Brain-Disabling Treatment in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Search Terms with Explanations
ECT has often been used abusively by husbands to render their wives more docile and submissive, sometimes with the intentional help of the shock prescriber (e.g., Tien, 1972). These studies of abuse also demonstrate the harmful effects on any human being, male or female, regardless of any malicious intent.
Advertisements, Brochures, Instruction Manuals, Parameters
MECTA and Somatics (Thymatron) are the only two ECT manufacturers in North America.
There are risks associated with anesthesia, including death.
Studies of brain damage in large animals given ECT show cell death and small hemorrhages scattered throughout the brain, often most intensely under the electrode placements. The actual data and graphics in these studies often show more severe damage than the authors’ watered-down conclusions. Hartelius (1952) performed the most important study using cats which led a reviewer of his book (Hartelius, 1953) in a neurology journal to conclude that brain damage had been proven. Instead, Hartelius’ work was ignored by the psychiatric profession and ECT advocates.
Personal memories of key life events from the past including weddings, the birth of children, and vacations are the most obviously impaired or eradicated by ECT. Sometimes years of homemaking, educational and professional experiences are obliterated. The effect is to demolish the individual’s sense of identity. I have evaluated many of these individuals who lives have been demolished with tragic results for their loved ones as well.
Professionals and reformers have frequently called for a ban on ECT.
BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)
This is a growth factor whose production is increased in reaction to ECT. It is called a benefit by ECT advocates. In reality, it is a response to brain trauma, and provides more evidence that ECT injures the brain. Also see Neurogenesis (new growth of brain cells), which also occurs after ECT as a response to brain damage, but which some ECT advocates claim is a positive outcome.
Bilateral ECT with one electrode placed on each side the temples over the frontal and temporal regions of the brain is by far the most common form of ECT. It is also the most obviously damaging. Since ECT “works” by damaging the brain and mind, practitioners have been unwilling to give up bilateral ECT because they consider it the most “effective.” To obtain the same results with other forms of ECT, practitioners often give additional numbers or raise the power on the ECT machine in order to inflict additional damage.
Animal and some human studies confirm that ECT causes brain damage. In humans it is most obviously demonstrated by an initial global loss of mental functioning after each ECT (see delirium) and other typical signs of Head Injury. In many cases this injury progresses with routine ECT into persistent dementia. See discussion of new admissions of brain-damage by the shock machine manufacturer Somatics, Inc: Breggin, 2018a and 2018b; Judge’s order in California; Somatics, Inc. and several items under Thymatron.
The Brain-Disabling principle states that ECT “works” by damaging the brain, sometimes resulting in an initial euphoria (euphemistically called “mood elevation”) and always resulting in varying degrees of apathy, indifference, docility and emotional blunting with an inability to feel or express depressed mood, all of which advocates label as “improvement.”
Caffeine has been used to lengthen seizure duration but increases risk including brain damage.
Cardiovascular (also search Asystole)
ECT can cause heart attack.
Because ECT patients are not given informed consent (or they and their families would not accept the treatment) and because one or more ECTs will always render the patient unable to protest, ECT is an offense against civil rights. See Involuntary and Coercion.
This is a broad term that encompasses memory dysfunction function as well as impairment in learning new material, abstract reasoning, problem solving and other higher functions. Most ECT studies focus on memory loss but many also mention cognitive dysfunction. Check all the memory resources to get a full picture of broader cognitive dysfunction.
By any medical standard, ECT causes a severe concussion (See Head Injury) with loss of consciousness, coma, and awakening with, at the least, memory loss surrounding the event, confusion, incoordination, and docility or apathy. While rational medicine now removes players from games after a concussion and prohibits them from playing for 6 months to a year if several concussions are experienced, radical ECT doctors continue concussing the patient on average 2-3 times per week until the patients are so blunted and apathetic that they no longer have sufficient brain function to complain about, care about, or even remember feelings of depression. Some ECT doctors continue the concussions on a weekly outpatient basis indefinitely (maintenance ECT) so that the individual never fully comes out of the daze and confusion, and never finds the strength to resist. Scientific literature on concussion applies directly to ECT, except that ECT produces severe, repeated concussions at a rate unheard of in sports or elsewhere. In addition, ECT is better described as traumatic brain injury (TBI) according to current use of the definitions.
See delirium and head injury.
ECT candidates and their families are never told how damaging the treatment is or they would not agree to it. Furthermore, after one or more ECTs individuals are rendered so helplessly confused and submissive that they become incapable of giving rational or informed consent. Therefore, after a few treatments, all ECT becomes involuntary and therefore abusive and a violation of human rights.
Even establishment sources, such as the NIH Consensus Development Conference, agree that ECT is extremely controversial. Potential patients and their families have a right to know this.
After one or more treatments, ECT always produces some degree of confusion and disorientation, or delirium, formerly called an acute organic brain syndrome. Therefore, ECT always damages the brain. The only question is “How complete is recovery?” Recovery is always incomplete from routine ECT as evidenced by memory loss and often the individual is permanently and severely impaired. Also see head injury.
Denial or Anosognosia
The claim that huge numbers of ECT patients exaggerate their symptoms, especially memory loss, flies in the face of the clinical fact that individuals who lose mental function almost always deny or minimize their losses. In my experience, the family is always more aware and vocal about their loved one’s mental losses from brain damage than is the victim. We see the same reaction in patients with dementia from Alzheimer’s or other causes who “confabulate” by making up answers to questions such as “What did you have for breakfast?” or “What did you do yesterday?”
EEG or electroencephalogram
Brain wave studies routinely confirm acute harm and in some cases persistent harm to the brain. This is a measure of gross brain malfunction. Also see Flatlining. Changes worse on side of electrode in unilateral nondominant ECT, confirming electrical injury.
Efficacy or Effectiveness (also see Sham)
Controlled clinical trials show no positive effect from ECT beyond 4 weeks after the last treatment. It takes the patient’s brain at least 4 weeks to begin recovering, so ECT only “works” while the patient is acutely injured, suffering from some degree of delirium and gross head injury. Controlled clinical trials in which the control group consists of patients who are anesthetized without being shocked (sham ECT) do not show any benefit from ECT.
Many ECT patients are elderly women and the elderly are especially susceptible to harm from any form of brain injury, including drugs and ECT. These articles also confirm increased mortality, brain damage and memory dysfunction.
Exaggeration of memory deficits?
Advocates of ECT almost universally claim that the massive numbers of “complaints” about memory loss are either fake or a symptom of mental illness. This is farfetched given that these patients have been subjected to repeated traumatic brain injuries in the form of ECT. For further information, search denial or search anosognosia.
The FDA has twice declared that ECT machines, which have never been tested, are unsafe and in need of testing for FDA approval. The first time it suggested testing, the agency backed down under pressure from psychiatry. More recently the FDA has overridden psychiatry and declared that it will require testing of the machines. But the agency has not put forth any plans for testing. The FDA and psychiatry do not want to face how damage has already been done and continues to be done. Also see Machines. Still more recently, the FDA has arbitrarily refused to test the machines and has declared ECT safe and effective for treatment-resistant depression and catatonia. Simultaneously the ECT manufacturer sent a report to the FDA that listed memory loss and brain damage as adverse effects of ECT. See Breggin, 2018a and 2018b; Judge’s order in California; Somatics, Inc. and several items under Thymatron.
Flatlining of brain waves on EEG
Flatlining of the brain waves on the EEG, also called Postictal Suppression of the EEG, commonly occurs immediately after the ECT-induced convulsion. Flatlining is a lifeless or flat EEG with no electrical signals or brain waves. Some advocates correlate the degree of flatlining with the degree of “therapeutic” effect, again confirming that the damage is what “works.” In reality, flatlining is a sign of severe damage and impending brain death, and when irreversible is used to confirm brain death. Also see brain-disabling principle.
One ECT electrode always sits over the frontal lobes and in bilateral ECT both are placed over the frontal lobes on each temple area of the head. The energy is most intense and damaging beneath the electrodes. Therefore, ECT works in part by causing an electrical lobotomy. Also see Lobotomy.
Head Injury (brain injury; TBI; concussion; closed-head injury)
By every definition of traumatic brain injury (TBI), every single ECT treatment greatly exceeds the standards set for mild traumatic brain injury. TBI is defined as an intrusive force which causes brain dysfunction. Once the intrusion causes unconsciousness for several minutes or more, and leaves any lasting effects, such as limited amnesia and confusion surrounding the event, the TBI is considered moderate or severe. After the first one or two ECTs, and increasing with each additional ECT, individuals develop the whole array of acute signs of severe traumatic brain injury: unconsciousness, headache, nausea, memory loss both for the past and the present surrounding the acute event, some lasting retrograde amnesia, disorientation, impaired judgment, loss of personality, irritability, and emotional instability. Euphoria sometimes occurs but is usually followed by apathy and indifference. A comparison to concussion produces similar results in that each ECT treatment resembles a very severe concussion. Repeated concussions are very damaging to the brain. Therefore, there can be no question about whether ECT inflicts severe traumatic brain injury. It is absurdly malicious to claim it does no harm to the brain! The only question is “How complete is recovery?” Repeated ECTs, like any series of repeated TBIs, causes lasting harm to the brain.
Heart – see also cardiovascular
Intensive (extreme, regressive, annihilation, or intensive ECT)
Intensive ECT involves the administration of more than once ECT per day or large numbers of ECTs over time. The grossness of the harm done to these people shows in the extreme what happens during routine treatment to a less severe but nonetheless harmful degree. Advocates invariably find these very damaged patients to be improved, again confirming the brain-disabling principle of ECT treatment.
ECT is sometimes given against the expressed wishes of a patient by a parent, surrogate or guardian, or by court order. This is an extreme civil rights abuse. See Coercion and Civil Rights.
A number of key studies are labeled Key Article to help in beginning an initial review.
Lobotomy and Psychosurgery
Because at least one electrode is placed over the frontal lobes, ECT becomes an electrical closed-head lobotomy as demonstrated in brain function studies.
Many or Multiple ECT
Increasing numbers causes more damage and dysfunction. Also see Intensive.
Machines – see also Thymatron and MECTA
ECT machines have never been tested or approved for use by the FDA. Because it is such an old treatment (invented in 1938), it was grandfathered into use without any testing. In the past there was concern that the machines were unsafe because they delivered too much energy. Crude and untested controls were put on them to control the amounts of electricity delivered and now some advocates lament that they cannot deliver enough power because of the safeties. Nonetheless, the energy level is devastating.
Dr. Breggin was the expert in the first successful ECT malpractice jury verdict. After the trial, a state Court of Appeals confirms Dr. Breggin’s testimony about the harm done by ECT. Many other of his cases have been settled.
Many studies show varying degrees of permanent memory loss and dysfunction and often include more generalized cognitive dysfunction as well.
Neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells)
ECT advocates claim that newly discovered ECT-induced neurogenesis is good for the brain. Instead, neurogenesis is a response to traumatic brain injury. ECT causes small hemorrhages, ischemia, inadequate blood supply, electrical trauma, and other effects which can cause neurogenesis. ECT-induced neurogenesis is one more proof that it causes brain injury. Also see BDNF.
Newspaper articles about controversy swirling around ECT in the US and Canada, including the FDA’s decision to require testing of ECT machines.
Non-ECT, Apply to ECT, and Compare to ECT
The above terms designate articles that are not specifically looking at ECT or other forms of electrically induced seizures. Some of the articles demonstrate that other forms of injury also produce either neurogenesis and/or BDNF, confirming that neurogenesis after ECT is a response to brain damage. Other articles deal with epileptic seizures. Seizures or convulsions without ECT by themselves can harm the brain and cause permanent damage. Others deal with general discussions of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions, all of which are relevant to the harmful effects of ECT. However, ECT-induced seizures are much more powerful and damaging than most trauma to the brain, including repeated epileptic seizures, in part because modern, radical ECT has the specific goal of inflicting many times more the destructive energy needed to create a convulsion with the aim of causing repeated, comparatively prolonged and strong seizures, and even flatlining of the brain waves as the brain becomes exhausted.
Origins of ECT
The inventors of ECT, Bini and Cerletti, knew and approved the fact that they were causing brain damage. For more about origins, see also see below, Breggin, 1979, pp. 114, 140-141, 164-165, 214-215.
Overview or Review articles
These articles cover a wide range of topics related to ECT and can provide a comprehensive analysis of the harm done by the treatment.
These articles present the viewpoint of the person or patient after ECT. The most important data about the harm from ECT comes from these self-reports, but ECT advocates avoid listening to their patients and seldom mention their viewpoint in their studies. Reading a number of these studies provides overwhelming evidence for the devastation that ECT causes in the lives of many people. These reports are among the most scholarly as well as the most informative. They represent the academic fields of qualitative, sociological, content and feminist analysis. Also see search items “women” and “abuse.”
Postictal Suppression of brain waves
Lengthier seizure duration is sometime advocated but causes more brain damage.
There are no studies to support the claim that ECT reduces suicide. ECT does not reduce suicide and instead in some cases worsens it. There is no reason to use ECT as a “last resort.”
Studies on victimization of women by ECT illustrate how ECT can be used as a method of abuse, especially in making people more submissive and docile. These studies also show the damaging effects on anyone, whether female or male. Also see Abuse and Personal.
These studies show that ECT’s harmful effects are made worse by pre-existing brain damage, for example, from head injuries or brain disease.
TABLE OF CONTENTS OF SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES
–Abrams 1992. Delirium. Confusion.
–Abse 1956. Women. Abuse. Personal. Hostile attitudes of shock doctors.
–Accornero 1988. Origins. Controversy.
–Advertisements (Ads) for ECT Machines, MECTA, also found in the years 2008-2012 at least
–Advertisements (Ads) for ECT Machines, Somatics (Thymatron), ads from 2008 through 2012
–Alpers 1946. Cats. Brain Damage. Animals
–Alpers and Hughes 1942. Human Autopsy studies. Brain damage.
–Alpers and Hughes 1942. Key Article. Review of Brain Damage. Also see Hartelius 1952.
–American Psychiatric Association Task Force 1978. Survey shows 32% of psychiatrists have “some degree of opposition” to ECT; and 41% agree and only 26% disagree with “It is likely that ECT produces slight or subtle brain damage.” Brain Damage. Controversy.
–APA 2001a. Task Force, Caffeine, Seizure Duration.
–APA 2001b. Task Force, Cardiovascular Monitoring.
–APA 2001c. Task Force, Memory loss for years of past, extreme cases occur, autobiographic
–APA 2001d. Consent Forms Admit Permanent large memory loss
–APA 2001e. Task Force on standards for reducing ECT memory & cognitive dysfunction
–Babayan 1985. Brain Damage. A USSR textbook describes brain damage.
–Baker 1995. Children. Brain Damage. Abuse. Ethics.
–Baldwin 1996. Children. Controversy. Ethics.
–Baldwin & Jones 1996. Children. Controversy.
–Baldwin & Oxlad 1996a. Children. Effectiveness. Controversy.
–Baldwin & Oxlad 1996b. Children. Controversy. Ban.
–Bender 1947. Shocked 100 children at Bellevue. Abuse. See Clardy follow-up & critique.
–Bengzon et al. 1997. Non-ECT seizures cause brain cell death and neurogenesis.
–Ben-Yishay 1985. Unawareness (anosognosia) after head injury
–Bini 1938. The ECT co-inventor describes the production of seizures in dogs by rectal and oral electrodes. Bini sees the widespread damage as part of the treatment, and began human ECT the same year. Brain damage. Animals. Origins. Brain-Disabling Principle: “These very alterations [widespread brain damage] may be responsible for the favorable transformation…” p. 174.
–Bocchio-Chiavetto, et al. 2006. ECT increases BDNF and this is seen as positive by the authors. However, it’s a marker for brain injury. Also see BDNF for explanation.
–Bodin (2012). TBI brain injury discussion. Compare to ECT
–Bolwig and Madsen 2007. ECT-induced neurogenesis is therapeutic. In fact, confirms brain damage. Animals.
–Boyle 1986. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction.
–Bracken et al. 2012. Brief review of sham or placebo ECT studies. Efficacy. See p. 431.
–Breggin 1979. The complete PDF of Dr. Breggin’s 1979 book Electroshock. Every aspect of ECT is covered and remains relevant today. For the serious scholar or student, this book is the place to begin. More recent studies simply confirm the older data and conclusions, as well as the brain-disabling principle of psychiatric treatment.
–Breggin 1980. “Brain-disabling therapies.” In Valenstein E (ed): The Psychosurgery Debate. San Francisco, WH Freeman, 1980.
–Breggin 1981a. Overview. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Delirium. (book chapter).
–Breggin 1981b. Lobotomy and Psychosurgery.
–Breggin 1982a. FDA Testimony Notes.
–Breggin 1982b. Lobotomy and Psychosurgery.
–Breggin 1983. “Iatrogenic helplessness in authoritarian psychiatry.” In Morgan RF (ed): The Iatrogenic Handbook. Toronto, IPI Publishing Company, 1983.
-Breggin 1984. Critique of Weiner. Delirium. Brain Damage.
–Breggin 1985a. Video of invited scientific presentation at the 1985 NIMH ECT Consensus Development Conference.
–Breggin 1985b. in ECT Consensus Conference Program and Abstracts. Brain Damage.
–Breggin 1986a. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Harm from nondominant ECT
–Breggin 1986b. Overview. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Delirium. Personal.
–Breggin, 1992. “The return of ECT.” Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health, 3, 12-17.
–Breggin 1998. Key Article. Overview. The most detailed peer-reviewed critical overview on ECT. In addition, see more recent
–Breggin 2006. Brain Damage (spellbinding). Denial and anosognosia. How ECT and drugs mask their harmful effect by impairing self-evaluation, judgment and insight.
–Breggin 2007. Brain Damage Editorial.
–Breggin 2010. Key Article. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Head Injury. A peer-reviewed overview, addressed to the FDA during its deliberations on ECT when it finally concluded that ECT required testing, after which it betrayed its trust by reversing itself in 2018 (see FDA 2018).
–Breggin 2011. Brain Damage. Dr. Breggin introduces a new diagnosis called Chronic Brain Impairment (CBI) to describe severe symptoms of brain damage that nonetheless fall short of the criteria for full-blown dementia. The concept is useful in designating and describing the degrees of brain damage often inflicted by psychiatric drugs or ECT that may not in a particular case rise to the level of dementia.
–Breggin 2014. On stopping ECT for children, See Daalen-Smith, Simon, Breggin & LeFrançois
–Breggin, P. 2018a. Affidavit in legal case against Somatics, Inc and Thymatron machine re memory loss, cognitive dysfunction and brain damage.
-Breggin, P. (2018b, November 16). Alert 67: MORE HUGE ECT NEWS. Thymatron manufacturer Somatics, Inc. admits to FDA that ECT causes huge memory deficits and “brain damage.”
-Brody 1944. Shows memory dysfunction
–Bronen 2000. Non-ECT Seizures or convulsions without ECT can cause brain damage.
–Brown 2011. Washington Post newspaper article about FDA decision to require testing of ECT machines.
–Brown – Denial and confabulation after brain injury. Apply to ECT
–Brussell 1951. Intensive. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse.
–Burke 1987. Elderly. Brain damage. Cardiovascular complications.
–Burstow 2006a. Women. Abuse. Personal. Overview. Memory Dysfunction. Ban.
–Burstow 2006b. ECT as violence against women. Personal.
–Burstow 2016. Ethics. Brain Damage.
–Busto et al. 1987. Non-ECT. Small variation in temperature during brain ischemia worsen outcome. (ECT produces both ischemia and increased heat in the brain.) Mechanism. Brain damage.
–Cameron, DE and Pande 1958. Abuse. Intensive. [CIA funded; lawsuits and negative follow ups later on. See Schwartzman & Termansen 1967 follow up in this list; see Farnsworth 1992 for NYT story]
–Cameron, DG 1994. Overview. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction.
–Cantu (2001). Concussive brain damage and amnesia ; degrees of harm. Compare to ECT
–Cantu (2006). Overview of consensus on concussive head injury & brain damage. Compare to ECT
–Cavazos et al. 1996. Animals. Rats. Brain Damage.
–Cerletti 1950. Origins. Bini’s use of mouth-anal electrodes was to reduce gross brain damage for study purposes (p. 88) (see Bini 1938 for widespread brain damage.) From beginning, Bini and Cerletti knew they were damaging the brain.
–Clardy & Rumph 1954. Analysis of children shocked by L. Bender. Abuse. Personal.
–Ching 2012. Flatlining, which occurs regularly from ECT, is described as a pathological state
–Consensus Conference 1985. NIMH version. Overview. Memory Dysfunction. Controversy. Lack of Efficacy beyond 4 weeks. Intensive ECT rejected
–Consensus Conference of NIH 1986. JAMA version (see above)
–Daalen-Smith et al. 2011. Key Article. Women. Abuse. Memory Dysfunction. Autobiographical. Personal
–Daalen-Smith, Simon, Breggin & LeFrançois 2014. Stopping ECT for children
—Daniel et al.1982. Autobiographic memory loss.
–Daniel et al.1983. Autobiographic memory loss. Bilateral worse.
–Davies et al. 1971. Davies et al. say the machines need safety controls over to limit excessive power. Nowadays some advocates complain that the controls don’t allow for enough power to be delivered to have sufficient effect. Davies et al. 1971 (p. 98) cite a personal communication from Janis stating that some memory deficits found in Janis’s research lasted at least for a full year after ECT.
–Decina 1984. Cardiovascular. Cardiac Arrest. Adrenergic beta blockade.
–Dekosky 2010. Overview of Concussion, From New England Journal of Medicine
–DeLuca 2000. Denial, confabulation and anosognosia in brain injury. Apply to ECT.
–DK Law Group, LLC. (2018, November). Litigation Update: ECT Device Manufacturer Issues Warning of “Permanent Brain Damage.” Also see Breggin (2018 a & b).
–Dolan 1990. A neurologist in a brief paragraph confirms memory loss.
-Enev et al. 2007. Seizure propagation shows an aspect of the mechanism of Brain Damage.
–Enns 1996. Caffeine. Brain Damage. Hippocampus.,
-Farnsworth 1992. New York Times newspaper report on D.E. Cameron’s use of ECT to obliterate memory and personality. Intensive. Abuse. Memory Dysfunction.
–FDA 2018 (12.26.18). The agency completely backtracked on its commitment to do testing and reclassified ECT into lower risk category of danger for patients with “treatment-resistant depression.” This will actually increase the use of ECT because it directly encourages doctors to give ECT to patients whom they personally decide to label as “treatment-resistant,” based on anything from a failed psychotherapy or a bad response to a couple of drugs, or hostility to the patient. It ignores the fact that antidepressants do not work and can make people worse, so that what they need, rather than ECT, is to be properly withdrawn from antidepressants (see Dr. Breggin’s free Antidepressant Resource Center @www.123antidepressants.com) and/or his book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families.
–Ferraro & Roizen-1946. Important research on Animals. Monkeys. Brain Damage. Fewer ECTs than in their 1949 study. Their data shows more damage than their conclusions.
–Ferraro & Roizen 1949. Animals. Monkeys. Brain Damage. Intensive ECT. Their data shows more damage than their conclusions.
–Fiegel 1990. Elderly. Brain Damage. Brain scans. Delirium.
–Fink 1958. Brain Damage. An advocate confirms the Brain-disabling principle.
–Fisher 1985. TBI, brain damage, and how victims deny (anosognosia) the harmful effects. Apply denial and anosognosia to ECT.
-Frank 1990. Overview. Memory Dysfunction. Brain Damage. Abuse. Personal.
–Fraser 2008. Memory Dysfunction. Autobiographic.
–Freeman 1941. Brain Damage. Controversy. Lobotomy.
–Freeman and Kendall 1980. Key Article. Most patients report memory problems years later even when asked by the doctors who shocked them. Also see Rosenberg and Pettinati, 1984 for similar results.
-Friedberg 1981a. Key Article. Overview by a neurologist. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction.
–Friedberg 1981b. Letter in response to Friedberg 1981a.
–Froede & Baldwin 1999. Key Article. At public hearings numerous people testify about the damage done to them by ECT. Brain damage. Memory Loss. Cognitive Dysfunction. Abuse. Personal.
–Giles 2002. Review. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction
–Glueck et al. 1957. Intensive. Brain Damage. Abuse. Memory Dysfunction. Psychiatric Quarterly 31,117-136.
–Goldman, Gomer and Templer 1972. Many ECT. Intensive. Brain damage.
–Greenberg 2007. Brain damage causes neurogenesis.
–Hartelius 1952. Key Article. Brain Damage. Animals. Cats. 128 pages. Definitive. The summary at the end can be read by itself.
–Hartelius 1953. Key Article. Book Review of Hartelius (see above above) in a neurology journal that concludes that brain damage has been proven by Hartelius (1952). After this admission, advocates which almost uniformly ignore Hartelius, Alpers, Ferraro & Roizen and other animal researchers and instead falsely declare that there is no evidence for brain damage in animals.
–Heitman 1996. Public and patient outrage leads ECT reform. Memory and cognition
-Hicks et al, 1997. BDNF. Brain damage. Animals.
–Janis and Astrachan 1951. Memory Dysfunction. Autobiographic. Personal. This definitive study was simple to do. The authors collected autobiographical memories from ECT patients before and after ECT, and found great losses. ECT advocates for years afterward avoided repeating this simply study. More recently they have approached the problem with simple questionnaires, with actually interviewing the patients, and even this narrow approach confirms that ECT causes serious gaps in all-important life memories, such as weddings, births of children, and vacations. Patients also lose portions of their education, and their homemaking and professional skills, but advocates rarely test for this. Personal accounts collected by independent observers confirm these broader losses.
–Janis 1950. Key Article. Memory Dysfunction. Autobiographic. Personal. Davies et al. 1971 (p. 98) cite a personal communication from -Janis stating that some memory deficits found in Janis’s research lasted at least for a full year after ECT.
Also see Janis and Astrachan, 1951.
–Jin et al. 2006. Neurogenesis. Brain Damage. Animals.
–Jones and Baldwin 1992. Key Article. Good Overview. Controversy. Consent. Brain damage. Memory Loss. Abuse. Effectiveness.
–Jones & Baldwin 1996. Children. Abuse. Consent.
–Johnson 1997. Denial, confabulation and anosognosia in brain injury. Apply to ECT
–Johnstone 1999. Memory Dysfunction. Women. Abuse. Consent. Personal.
–Judge’s Order in California 2018 ECT case against Somatics Inc., manufacturer of Thymatron, confirming science about memory loss and brain damage. Go to: Thymatron: Judge’s Order in 2018 ECT Case
–Kahn and Fink 1959. They claim ECT is for less intelligent, empathic, imaginative or sensitive people. Confirms Brain-Disabling Principle.
–Kaplan et al, 2010. BDNF is response to trauma, brain damage
–Kennedy & Anchel, 1948. Intensive ECT. Brain Damage. Abuse.
–Kohn et al, 2007. ECT further reduces blood flow to frontal lobes in depressed patients. This confirms the brain-disabling principle. Less blood flow means impaired function and the risk of brain damage.
–Koopowitz et al. 2003. Memory Dysfunction. Consent. Personal.
–Kroessler and Fogel, 1993. Elderly. Mortality. Women.
–Krystal & Weiner 1994. Flatlining, more energy, worse seizures are better. Brain-Disabling.
–Krystal, Weiner & Coffey, 1994. Flatlining, more energy, worse seizures are better. Brain-Disabling.
–Krystal, Dean, Weiner et al, 2000. Call for stronger ECT Machines, but admit need more research. Confirms brain damage as treatment, brain-disabling principle, pushing for more and more stimulus intensity.
–Lalla 1996. Seizure Duration.
–Lambourn and Gill 1978. Sham ECT. Efficacy. More recent reviews are Read (2010) and Ross (2006).
–Leechuy 1988. Delirium.
–Lisanby et al, 2000. Memory Dysfunction. Autobiographic memory and especially public events memory are most harmed.
–Lukoyanov et al, 2004 Brain Damage. Cell death. Impaired new learning. Animals.
–MacQueen 2007. Long-term memory loss.
–Madsen et al, 2000. Neurogenesis causes ECT improvement. In reality, confirms brain damage.
–Maletzsky 1981. Multiple, many, Memory Loss.
–Mankad 2010. ECT Machine Specifications, MECTA Thymatron
–Martinotti et al. 2011 ECT increases BDNF in “successful” treatment. Brain damage. Brain-Disabling.
–Memory Loss and Brain Dysfunction, Updated Thymatron User Guide
–Mecta Optimized Service Manual 2015, Revision 10
–Mecta Optimized Service Manual 2015, Revision 11
–McCall 1996. Cardiovascular. Asystole.
–Mehul (2010). ECT Machines. MECTA & Somatics (Thymatron). FDA Specifications. Parameters. Increased destructive power.
–Moskowitz 2002. Neurogenesis. Stroke. Brain Damage.
–Munk-Olsen et al. 2007. ECT increases suicide risk.
–Neuberger et al. 1942. Brain Damage. Animals dogs.
–NFL Protocol for concussion (1)
–NFL Protocol for concussion (2)
-Nibuya et al. 1995. BDNF beneficial effect of ECT. Actually a marker for brain damage.
–Nobler et al. 1993. EEG Flatlining is good. Brain-Disabling
–Nobler et al. 2001. ECT decreases brain metabolism (neuronal activity). Frontal and temporal lobes. Lobotomy-like effect by impairing metabolism. Brain damage. Sackeim coauthor. It also reduces blood flow (Kohn et al., 2007).
–Ohira et al. 2010. Neurogenesis. Brain damage.
–Older 1994. Key Article. Non-ECT. Shows effects of injury to non-dominant side of brain (compared to unilateral nondominant ECT). While harder to detect, the injury is widespread to cognition (abstract thinking, generalizing) and personality.
–OSHA, 2018. The US Office of Safety and Health Administration describes “nerve damage” as depending on electrical current. The fixed 800-900 milliamps delivered by modern ECT machines are well above the agency’s estimated range for “nerve damage” which starts at 100 milliamps. OSHA also says that the degree of injury relates to (a) the direction of the current (ECT makes a direct hit on the highest centers of the brain; (b) the time of exposure to the current (often up to 6 or 8 seconds, which is far beyond the 1 second of exposure used for OSHA’s damage assessment); and (c) the “wetness” (conductivity) of the environment (ECT electrodes are made extremely wet or conductive by smearing the electrode-to-skin interface with a highly conductive substance). Therefore, “nerve damage” could easily occur at amperages even lower than 100 milliamps and did in fact occur at those levels with earlier ECT machines. Furthermore, according to OSHA’s analysis, the damage inflicted by 800-900 milliamps by a modern ECT machine would do greater damage than under OSHA’s hypothetical conditions. Retrieved on September 18, 2018 from the official OSHA website at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/electrical_incidents/mainpage.html (backup)
–Oxlad & Baldwin 1996. Key Article. Elderly. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse. Consent.
–Parent 2003a. Neurogenesis. Brain damage.
–Parent 2003b. Non-ECT seizures can cause brain damage and cognitive dysfunction. Quote (p. 1): “However, scientific data are slowly accumulating to suggest that recurring seizures may contribute to nerve cell injury in the brain, and this may be associated with declines in cognitive function and quality of life.” Keep in mind that ECT seizures are much more intense and frequent, and far more damaging.
–Patel 2006. Anethesia, Propofol vs. Etomidate.
–Paulson 1967 Memory Dysfunction worsened by prior brain disorder.
–Perrin et al. 2012. Key Article. Brain Damage. Lobotomy. ECT reduces “frontal cortical connectivity.” ECT effects are similar to lobotomy in isolating frontal lobes.
–Pettinati & Bonner 1984. Key Article. Elderly. Memory loss. Cognitive dysfunction.
-Philpot et al. 2004. Memory Dysfunction. Cognitive dysfunction. Women. Abuse.
–Portnoy 1986. Overview. Memory and Cognitive Dysfunction.
-Pridemore 2011. Seizure Duration.
–Prigatano 1996, Difficulties of rehabilitation with head injury
–Read 2010. Key Article. Efficacy. Sham ECT. Overview.
–Read 2019. Key article. ECT ineffective. Clinical trials. Sham studies.
–Read 2021. Key article. Includes recent Somatics Inc admission of brain damage and memory loss.
–Report of a Reform Panel. 2005. Public hearings on electroshock held in Toronto, Canada. Personal, memory loss. Statistics showing more women and elderly.
–Robertson & Pryor 2006. Key Article. Memory and Cognitive dysfunction. Autobiographic.
–Rose 2003. Subjective Memory Loss, Controversy.
–Rose et al. 2005. Memory Dysfunction. Efficacy. Personal. Overview.
-Rosenberg and Pettinati 1984. Key Article. Long-term, persistent memory loss and dysfunction reported by patients. See Freeman and Kendal for similar results. Bilateral worse.
-Ross 2006. Key Article. Sham. Efficacy. Consent. Most recent is Read (2010).
-Roth & Garside 1962. Lobotomy and ECT are compared. Confirms Brain-Damage and the Brain-Disabling Hypothesis. (to be added)
–Rothschild et al. 1951. Intensive. Brain Damage. Abuse.
–Sackeim, Devanand, 1991. Large suprathreshold stimulus & EEG suppression (PSI) relate to “therapeutic effect” and cognitive loss. illustrates brain-disabling principle.
–Sackeim et al. 2007. Key Article. Long-term follow up. Memory loss. Cognitive Dysfunction. Brain Damage. A dementia syndrome described but not identified or diagnosed as such. Bilateral worse shows drastic harm to all patients.
–Sackeim et al. 2000. Memory and Cognitive Dysfunction. Bilateral worse, including disorientation. Brain-disabling principle of higher doses more effective. More powerful machines needed!
–Sagebiel 1961. Memory Dysfunction. Brain Damage. Intensive.
–Salters appeal 2007 (judge’s opinion). Confirms Breggin testimony on Memory Dysfunction.
–Sament 1983. Neurologist confirms Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Calls for Ban.
–Schwartzman & Termansen 1967. Follow up on DE Cameron’s work, 1958. Intensive rejected. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse. Also see Farnsworth, 1992.
–Sherer (2003). Patients with brain damage deny or minimize their memory and overall brain dysfunction. Compare to ECT for denial and anosognosia.
–Sherman 1985. Psychiatric Newspaper covers patient protests. Brain Damage. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse. Personal.
–Shetty 2012. Neurogenesis. Seizures. Animals. Brain Damage.
–Shoor & Adams 1950. Intensive ECT. Abuse. Brain damage.
-Smith et al. 2009. Women. Memory Loss. Efficacy. Cognitive dysfunction. Abuse.
–Sobin, Sackeim et al. 1995. Memory Dysfunction worsened by prior brain disorder (mini mental status examination). Bilateral worse. Autobiographical. Cognitive dysfunction. Disorientation.
–Somatics Inc 2018 in major breakthrough reports “brain damage” and potentially “devastating” memory loss from its Thymatron machine. Puts ECT doctors on notice of these risks.
–Squire 1975. A stable impairment in remote memory following electroconvulsive therapy.
–Squire et al. 1981. Memory Dysfunction. Longterm. Public Events. Autobiographical.
–Squire and Slater 1983. Key Article. Memory Dysfunction. Longterm. Autobiographical.
–Summers et al. 1979. Describes lengthy delirium (acute organic brain syndrome) after a few ECT. Memory loss. Cognitive dysfunction. Brain-Disabling principle. Relates brain dysfunction to effectiveness. Notice the comparison to head injury.
–Sun 2008. Neurogenesis. BDNF (really bFGF, very similar). Brain damage.
–Suppes et al. 1996. Degree of Flatlining Correlates with “Effect” of ECT after 6 treatments (the period of severe trauma). Confirms brain-disabling principle.
–Templer et al. 1973. Bender-Gestalt inferior (brain damage) in 40-plus ECTs. Intensive. Many ECT. At end, denies relationship to brain damage without explanation. See Templer 1982 and 1992, more definitive.
–Templer & Veleber. 1982. Memory Dysfunction and Brain Damage.
–Templer 1992. Key Article. Memory Dysfunction and Brain Damage.
–Thomas 1986. Cardiovascular. Anesthesia.
–Thomas-Anterion 2012. Denial, confabulation and anosognosia in brain injury. Apply to ECT
–Thompson 2005. Do Seizures Harm the Brain?
–Thymatron 2018 ECT machine causes brain damage and vast memory loss according to manufacturer Somatics Inc. Warns ECT doctors.
–Thymatron Description from Brochure.
– Thymatron: Judge’s Order in 2018 ECT Case (against Somatics Inc and ECT machine called Thymatron). Based on Dr. Breggin’s affidavit, the judge found sufficient evidence for brain damage and memory loss to allow the products case to go to trial against Somatics, Inc. Somatics immediately settled the case and revised its official brochure to warn doctors about brain damage and memory. This was the first admission of these harms by an ECT manufacturer.
–Thymatron IV Brochure (2013) photo of EEG flatlining caused by ECT. Flatlining (neurons too injured to function) is actively sought by modern ECT advocates.
– Thymatron 2019 User Guide Updates Memory loss and brain injury
– Thymatron 2019 User Guide excerpt
–Thymatron advert praises increasing current to 900 mAmps
–Thymatron System IV Brochure praises flatlining, 2013
–Thymatron Quick Guide
–Thymatron Specifications Excerpted from Brochure.
–Thymatron View no 2 Thymatron Machine.
–Thymatron View no 3 of Machine.
–Thymatron View no 4 of Machine.
–Tien 1972. Frontiers in Psychiatry promotes Tien’s abusive treatment of women on behalf of husbands. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse.
–Tower 1949. Head Injury Comparison.
–Vamos 2008. Key Article. Memory Dysfunction. Personal.
–Wang 2010. Neurogenesis. Brain damage.
–Warren 1988. Key Article. Memory Dysfunction. Abuse. Family. Personal.
–Weiner, 1980. Based on literature review, EEG typically produces gross abnormalities in the EEG (indicating generalized brain injury) and depending on the study, some or many patients do not recover. The EEG is one measure of gross changes in brain function, confirming persistent brain damage in many cases. See Flatlining.
–Weitz 1997. Elderly. Women. Ban. Abuse. Canada.
–Wells 1988. Cardiovascular. Asystole.
–Wells. 2012. Key Article. Toronto Star. Newspaper article about Controversy. Personal.
–Wilson 2011. Key Article. New York Times. Newspaper article about FDA decision to require testing of ECT machines. FDA says ECT and the machines raise serious risks but ECT machines (the whole treatment process) have never been tested.
–Wulfson 1984. Cardiovascular. Adrenergic beta blockade. propranolol.
– Yrondi 2016. Post-ECT brain abnormalities, reflect brain damage and dysfunction
–Zarubenko et al. 2005. The convulsion in ECT causes brain cell death in the hippocampus, the area closely associated with memory, in mice. Animals. Brain damage. This article also discusses the implications for human ECT and also for neurogenesis in ECT as a response to brain cell death.