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Journal of ECT:
doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318191b6e3
Original Studies

Electrotherapy for Melancholia: The Pioneering Contributions of Benjamin Franklin and Giovanni Aldini

Bolwig, Tom G. MD, DMSc*; Fink, Max MD†

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Abstract

The electrical induction of seizures with a therapeutic aim began in 1938, but the history of electric currents to relieve mental illness began 2 centuries earlier with the pioneering work of the Italian Giovanni Aldini and the American Benjamin Franklin.

These early experiments are described demonstrating that the electrical force encouraged hopeful applications. This history emphasizes the unique contribution in the induction of grand mal seizures as the therapeutic basis rather than the role of electricity alone.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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