History Of Electricity As A Treatment

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History of Electricity as a Treatment The idea of placing electric shocks on the head, or body, of a mentally ill patient has existed for hundreds, even thousands of years. Before the invention of electricity, electric eels, electric catfish, and other electrically stimulating fish were applied to a variety of body parts in order to alleviate some sort of ailment. In A.D. 46, it was recorded that a torpedo fish applied to the head was used to relieve headaches. Later in the sixteenth century in Africa, people used electric catfish to act as a tool to carry out an exorcism to expel devils. Once electricity was invented, psychologists and scientists alike utilized this new tool in hopes of curing a range of mental illnesses, physical ailments, and diseases. In the 18th and 19th centuries European researchers applied electricity to the hands, neck, spinal column, kidneys, and buttocks of patients attempting to treat physical impairments, like blindness, to schizophrenia. The first documented use of electricity to treat melancholia, was Giovanni Aldini, a professor at the Bologna University in 1801. Aldini believed that the use of electricity by itself was therapeutic. The difference between simply using electricity and electroconvulsive therapy is the stimulation of a grand-mal seizure, without a seizure the treatment is not efficacious. The two Italian psychiatrists credited with discovering ECT plainly stated that electricity is simply the easiest way to induce a seizure;

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