Minding Michigan: Movies, TV hurts perception of electro-shock therapy

Aug 23, 2016
Originally published on August 22, 2016 5:15 pm

In the latest edition of Stateside's series Minding Michigan, which explores mental health issues in our state, we take a closer look at electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). 

ECT is largely known as "electroshock therapy," but many in the field consider that to be an outdated term. ECT is a mental health treatment that can be effective for some patients with certain disorders. However, largely because of the way its been portrayed in film or television, ECT is wrapped in stigma and misconception. The University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry has just opened a new mental health unit that expands its ability to offer electro-convulsive therapy to patients.

Dr. Daniel Maixner runs the ECT program and he says he can barely watch movie and TV depictions of the treatment. In his experience, ECT is a "miracle" and produces positive results but because of scenes from movies like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "A Beautiful Mind" and the TV show "Homeland" (pictured above) there's a negative perception among the public. 

Listen to the full interview above to hear first-hand from Dr. Maixner about what happens during an ECT session, who would be a good candidate for it and why his practice is one of the few in the country that treats teenagers.


GUEST: Dr. Daniel Maixner is the director of the ECT program at the University of Michigan

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