The key words here are "it really worked for them," and "WAS pretty barbaric."
ECT always "worked" even when the mechanism of action was unknown. It was given against a person's will, and given as a form of punishment to "the crazy." A little black box was rolled from bed to bed, patients were held down, and shock treatment was performed. Patients convulsed violently, bit through their tongues and broke bones. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. I suppose the ones that willinglingly signed up weighed their option and opted for a chance at better quality of life...a tough option to weigh, I'd say.
Modern ECT no longer has this face, yet it is misunderstood and underutilized by the general public.
When I talk about this option with patients, the most common question is, "Are the people that are receiving ECT treatment like me? Are they normal?" Awe, my favorite word. What in the hell is normal? Am I normal because I don't take psychotropics like you? Are you normal because you take meds and don't walk down the highway naked talking to yourself?
I assure them that ECT is (should be) viewed as an option of therapy just like the pills that America likes to pop before their morning coffee.
The nasty cloud of stigma hangs heavily over ECT's head. But you know what? That same cloud hangs over mental illness too! No one wants to talk about their battles with brain illness, whether it is depression, bipolar, or any other illnesses.
Overweight folks all over the country are more than happy to expose their guts and shoot themselves up with insulin from a cow or pig, but they don't want to talk about the diseases of their brain!? The very part of their body that defines them?
I openly discussed with many people my (thank God) short lived baby blues with Jude. It was hard. I hadn't any issue with Dylan, and my nursing brain told me I needed time, sunshine, exercise, and good nutrition...and still it was hard.
I couldn't imagine living with this and not telling anyone (and this has nothing to do with the fact that I talk a lot).
Mental illness effects 1 in 5 here in the US. Look around you, folks.
Spread the word. Spread the support. And know the options.