Mass killing under the guise of ECT: the darkest chapter in the history of biological psychiatry

G. Gazdag, G. S. Ungvari, H. Czech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Following its inception, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), rapidly spread all over the world, including Nazi Germany. Paradoxically, at the same time, the euthanasia programme was started in Germany: the extermination of people with intellectual disabilities and severe psychiatric disorders. In Lower Austria, Dr Emil Gelny, who had been granted a specialist qualification in psychiatry after three months of clinical training, took control of two psychiatric hospitals, in Gugging and Mauer-Öhling. In 1944, he began systematically killing patients with an ECT machine, something that was not practised anywhere else before or after, and remains unprecedented in the history of convulsive therapy. He modified an ECT machine, adding extra electrodes, which he fastened onto a victim’s wrists and ankles to administer lethal electric shocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalHistory of Psychiatry
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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