Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The year 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the invention of ECT. This paper provides a translation of the 1938 publication by Cerletti and Bini, with an introduction. The authors thought that it would be helpful, in the debate about ECT, to make accessible to people unfamiliar with Italian the first public account of ECT made by Cer-letti and Bini in front of the Royal Medical Academy of Rome in May 1938. The introduction and translated paper refer to the methodical approach to the development of ECT, based on the scientific opinions and technological processes of the time, as well as the drive to provide treatment which is both cheaper and more acceptable to patients. The introduction also comments on changing attitudes to what remains an efficacious treatment. ECT has been wrongly represented as an obsolete, unscientific treatment more akin to a torture than to a therapy: some explanations for this are suggested.

Original publication




Journal article


European Journal of Psychiatry

Publication Date





231 - 239