Category Archives: Sound Ethics

Electroshock Ethics on Sound Ethics

Although electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is currently used successfully in a clinical setting, the therapy has a controversial past. In addition to the many negative portrayals of the ECT in film and fiction, including Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, public perception may have been influenced the questionable experimental use of the therapy in medical research during the post-WWII era. These experiments included those which were partly funded by the CIA during the 1950s and the early 1960s as a part of the agency’s MK-ULTRA program. The MK-ULTRA program explored methods of mind-control by experimenting with LSD and ECT. Donald Ewen Cameron, as Director of the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University, oversaw an academic research project partly funded by this CIA initiative. Cameron’s research (1957-1964) involved the use of high-powered ECT treatments with mentally ill, anxious, and depressed patients. Cameron experimented with ECT to “depattern” the brain and, thereafter, used other techniques, called “psychic driving”, in an attempt to re-pattern the brain.

In this episode of Sound Ethics (Sound Medicine), Eric Meslin talks with Dr. Steven Jay, a professor of public health at the IU School of Medicine. In 1965, while Dr. Jay was a medical student on a visiting fellowship at McGill, he witnessed the end of this use of ECT.

Visit the IUCB Website for a brief bibliography on this topic and other Sound Ethics’ topics.


Sound Ethics – Essential Medicines, Part 2

Carrie RouseMay’s episode of Sound Ethics continues the investigation of what is being done to improve access to essential medicines. Eric Meslin, Ph.D., discusses with Carrie Rouse, a second year student at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the role universities can play in building better access to these medicines. Rouse, a member of the Indiana University chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, also shares the aims and activities of this advocacy group. To listen to a podcast of this show, visit the Sound Medicine website.