Electroconvulsive Therapy equipment

Contributed by Felixstowe Museum

Equipment from St Audrey's hospital, Melton, used to treat patients with mental health issues through electric shocks.

The hospital was still known as the 'Suffolk County Asylum or District Asylum up until the early 1930's.Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is the deliberate and controlled induction by electrical current of a seizure for the purpose of psychiatric treatment. This Electroconvulsive Therapy equipment belonged to Dr J R Whitwell. He used it while he was medical Superintendant at the Suffolk County Asylum (later St Audrey's Hospital, Melton). Dr Whitwell was Medical Superintendant from 1896 to 1924. This equipment was also used as an early attempt at recording graphical variations in pulse and heartbeat.

The use of Electroconvulsive Therapy became highly controversial, reinforced in the public's perception by the portrayal of its effects in the 1975 film One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest based on Ken Kesey's novel of 1962. The current guidelines from the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommend ECT only for severe, prolonged depressive illness.

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