'The Golden Remedy - or Electrical Panacea', 1818.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Satirical colour etching by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) showing a doctor administering the new electrical shock treatment, thought to cure hysteria and other nervous conditions. Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) discovered 'animal electricity' in the late 18th century. Nerves and muscles in animals function by tiny electrical currents, and can be stimulated by outside electricity. Soon electrical treatments were in great fashion, and were believed to be able to cure all manner of complaints, from gout to paralysis. Cruikshank was an English caricaturist and illustrator; he made his name as a political caricaturist with 'The Scourge' and 'The Meteor' (1811-1816). His work is as wide ranging as the innovations and eccentricities of the industrial age.