The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (mission: “alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research”) has an article on their website about a study carried out at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York into electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a treatment for schizophrenia. The study (Electroconvulsive Therapy Augmentation in Clozapine-Resistant Schizophrenia: A Prospective, Randomized Study by George Petrides et al.) was published in the August 2014 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry and the authors included five people who had previously been awarded grants by The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
The Foundation article says:
“Modern ECT has been modified from the sort used in the middle part of the 20th century, with different waveforms, seizure thresholds, and electrode placements developed to reduce the possibility of memory loss and negative side-effects of earlier ECT.”
In fact, the people who were given ECT in this study had bilateral treatment – exactly the same electrode placement that was used in the very early days of ECT and has been used on the majority of ECT patients ever since. Yes, a different electrode placement – unilateral – was developed in the 1950s in a attempt to reduce the memory loss caused by ECT but it never really caught on with psychiatrists.
There is nothing new about using ECT as a treatment for schizophrenia. It was invented as a treatment for schizophrenia. In Western countries over the years it has become predominantly a treatment for depression but a small minority of ECT patients are still receiving ECT for schizophrenia. And in other countries a much larger proportion of ECT patients are being treated for schizophrenia.
In the New York study the majority of patients were men and only just over half the patients were white. And their average age was much younger than when ECT is being used as a treatment for depression.