The electric breakfast

Patients’ slang — noted by Dalrymple in a memoir — for electroconvulsive therapy. He explains that it is so described because patients are not allowed to eat or drink before the procedure, which was discovered in an Italian slaughterhouse in the time of Mussolini. In the early days ECT was given without anaesthetic and without muscle relaxants to reduce the vigour of the epileptic convulsions induced by the electric current. Not infrequently patients broke their legs or backs as they thrashed about.

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