Representations of ECT in English-Language Film and Television in the New Millennium

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Abstract

Objective

The aim of the study was to survey the media landscape to determine whether visual depictions of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are becoming more or less medically accurate in the new millennium.

Method

English-language film and television shows depicting ECT were analyzed for patient demographics, administrator roles, indication, consent, anesthesia, paralytics, bite block, lead placement, electroencephalogram, and outcome.

Results

Thirty-nine ECT scenes were viewed, and just 3 included all 5 essential tools of modern ECT: anesthesia, paralytic, electrodes, electroencephalogram, and a bite block.

Conclusions

Media depictions of ECT do not reflect current practice. Too often, ECT is portrayed as a torture technique rather than an evidenced-based therapy, and even in a therapeutic setting, it is too often shown with outdated techniques.

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