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Reid William H. M.D. M.P.H.
The Journal of ECT: September 1999


In answer to allegations by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) detractors that psychiatrists never prescribe the treatment for themselves or their families, I sought clinicians with personal or family experience as ECT patients. A letter inviting firsthand accounts of treatment was published in a commonly read psychiatric publication (Psychiatric News) and mailed to selected American Psychiatric Association District Branches. Forty-two psychiatrists responded. Ten practicing psychiatrists had received at least one ECT series, five during their training years, and one had taken one treatment for personal educational reasons (“to see what my patients were experiencing‘’). More than 80 series and maintenance courses of ECT were described among 11 psychiatrists, nine parents, five siblings, and 18 other relatives of psychiatrists. Almost all patients had moderate to excellent improvement; no serious adverse effects were reported. Inability to get ECT for depressive relapses years after earlier, positive responses may have contributed to two suicides. Three psychiatrists published their personal or family experience with ECT in medical journals. A number of brief case reports are presented. It appears that psychiatrists and their families are consumers of ECT in much the same way as are patients from the general population.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.