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THE VALUE OF SUBCONVULSIVE ELECTROSTIMULATION IN THE TREATMENT OF SOME EMOTIONAL DISORDERS
EUGENE A. HARGROVE; A. E. BENNETT; FREDERICK R. FORD
Am J Psychiatry 1953;109:612-616.
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The departments of psychiatry, Herrick Memorial Hospital and the A. E. Bennett Neuropsychiatric Research Foundation, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco, Calif.

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Abstract

1. A total of 120 patients have been treated for anxiety and depression with subconvulsive electrostimulation combined with psychotherapy, with electrostimulation alone or with psychotherapy alone.2. Less than one-fifth of the patients treated with psychotherapy alone for the symptom of anxiety failed to improve or recover, as compared with almost two-thirds of those treated by the combined method. The group on electrostimulation alone, although too small for comparison, indicated a trend toward poorer results than those observed with the other 2 methods. The average time required for social recovery by any method is roughly similar.3. In depressions 11 of 15 patients treated by psychotherapy improved or recovered, whereas by the combined method only 5 of 15 made comparable gains. The smaller group treated with electrostimulation indicated poorer results than with the combined treatment. The duration of treatment in each method is roughly similar.4. The use of electrostimulation combined with psychotherapy in the treatment of anxieties and mild depressions may add problems that retard treatment or prevent recovery.5. The explosive ventilation of feeling that electrostimulation undoubtedly causes is at best a temporary relief. It has no part in the long-term approach to amelioration of the patient's symptoms that only a process of reeducation can achieve. The introduction of pain, seduction, inappropriate dependence, or indulgence in masochism does not achieve reeducation in any sense, and our results emphasize this belief.6. Treatment of patients with the predominating symptoms of anxiety or mild depression by electrostimulation is in our present experience second choice to treatment by psychotherapy alone.

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