Representations of ECT in English-language film and television in the new millennium

Avery Madeleine Matthews, Peter B. Rosenquist, William Vaughn McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


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 filmand television shows depicting ECTwere 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torture technique rather than an evidencedbased therapy, and even in a therapeutic setting, it is too often shown with outdated techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-191
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of ECT
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 23 2016


  • ECT
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Film
  • Media
  • Movies
  • Stigma
  • Television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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