Few procedures carry the stigma and negative media (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Snake Pit) that have surrounded ECT. People often feel demoralized when ECT is recommended: “Am I that crazy?”
To try and get beyond this negative press it’s important to remember that ECT is a medical procedure being used to treat serious and life threatening conditions, most notably depression, severe mania, and catatonic states. This reframe, a medical treatment for medical conditions, is useful especially when dealing with concerns the person considering ECT may have, as well as their family.
Most facilities that perform ECT will have educational materials, which often include a video or DVD that will walk you through the stages of ECT. Some people might also benefit from hearing or reading accounts of others who have had ECT, such as Kitty Dukakis in her recent book with Larry Tye, Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy (Avery).