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László Meduna's Immigration to the United States in 1939: Correspondence With Victor Gonda

Gazdag, Gábor MD, PhD*; Fink, Max MD†; Ungvari, Gabor S. MD, PhD‡; Shorter, Edward DSc§

Journal of ECT:
doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3181da844f

László Meduna, the originator of convulsive therapy, left Hungary for the United States in 1939. To date, the circumstances of his emigration have been obscure. Recently, more details have come to light with the discovery of Meduna's correspondence with Victor Gonda, a Hungarian psychiatrist who immigrated to Chicago in the 1920s. The letters give insight into the reasons of Meduna's decision and paint a colorful picture about the political and scientific atmosphere in prewar Hungary. Besides his more personal motivations, the barriers to his professional career in Hungary are also highlighted.

Author Information

From the *1st Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Jahn Ferenc Hospital, Budapest, Hungary; †Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, Stony Brook University, New York; ‡Graylands Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia; and §History of Medicine Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Received for publication January 28, 2010; accepted January 31, 2010.

Reprints: Gábor Gazdag, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Jahn Ferenc Hospital, Köves u. 1., 1204 Budapest, Hungary (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.