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The History of Pediatric ECT 

The History of Pediatric ECT
The History of Pediatric ECT
Electroconvulsive Therapy in Children and Adolescents

Edward Shorter


This chapter describes the history of pediatric ECT. ECT in the child and adolescent population has undergone the same narrative arc over the last 50 years as in the adult population: initial acceptance after the introduction of ECT in 1938, rejection for social and cultural reasons in the turbulent protest movements of the 1960s and 70s, then revival in the 1980s and afterwards as scientific data make it apparent that the procedure is safe and effective in pediatric use. What is striking in the story addressed by this chapter is how little the rejection of ECT in the middle third of the twentieth century has to do with science, and how much it owes to cultural prejudices arising from the antipsychiatry movement and from fictive reconstructions of Hollywood films.

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