Audrey Wilson, ‘Electroconvulsive Therapy’, 2016, Alida Anderson Art Projects

Image rights: Anything Photographic

Context Art Miami 2016

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses. The ECT procedure was first conducted in 1938 and is the only currently used form of shock therapy in psychiatry. First experimentations began with several kinds of devices and animals, until determining the ideal parameters and perfecting the technique, followed up with a series of electroshocks in human subjects. After 10 to 20 ECT shocks in alternate days, the improvement in most of the patients were startling. One of the unexpected benefits of electroshock was that it provoked retrograde amnesia. Furthermore, ECT was more reliable and controllable and less dangerous to the patient, although, it did eventually become troublesome. There were many examples of ECT being used to subdue and to control patients in psychiatric hospitals. Troublesome patients received several shocks a day, many times without proper restraint or sedation.

About Audrey Wilson