ECT machine with scalp electrodes, 1950.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) machines were used to transmit electric currents to the brain in timed pulses, causing a masive convulsion or seizure. In this way, it was thought that it was posible to 'shock' a patient out of a severe mental disorder. The therapy has always been controversial, but is still sometimes used, mainly in the treatment of severe depresion.