One of the selling points of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) when it was introduced in the late 1930s (and had to compete with existing chemical methods of inducing convulsions) was the speed and ease of its use. Writing in The Lancet in late 1939, practitioners listed the advantages of the ECT:
“From the technical point of view there can be no doubt that the electrical method is greatly superior to any hitherto employed for the production of severe convulsions. For the operator, only a small amount of training and experience is necessary, and a knowledge of physics, though desirable on general grounds, is not essential… In any case the apparatus is cheap and portable, and preparation of the patient may take no more than a minute”.
Now that ECT is administered under anaesthesia it takes a little longer to prepare a patient, but speed is still considered a selling point by Ectron Ltd, Britain’s major manufacturer of ECT machines. According to the brochure, their latest model, the Ectonustim series 6, offers “fast and effective ECT with the freedom of day-to-day use the ECTRON ECT equipment gives you“. And it is illustrated with someone running and mountain-biking, as well as a group of smiling people in a hospital.