Self-Experimentation with ECT?

An Unknown Chapter in the History of Convulsive Treatments in Psychiatry
Friday, Jan 22, 2016 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

David Cohen, Ph.D (Marjorie Crump Professor of Social Welfare, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

Description of research:  Henri Bersot is considered by historians to be the only known psychiatrist to have self-administered ECT (in Switzerland circa 1942) and his experiment is nearly forgotten. Dr. Cohen has uncovered three more cases of psychiatrists in America and Britain who self-experimented with cardiazol shock or electroshock and published their accounts between 1939 and 1949. In this talk, based on primary and published sources and interviews with children and colleagues, he will describe the psychiatrists, compare their accounts, and address the question of whether their self-administration discernibly affected their personal or professional views. He will also situate their experiments within the history of this contested treatment and within the seemingly unremarkable tradition of self-experimentation in psychiatry.

Location: History and Special Collections for the Sciences, located on the 4th floor of the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 12-077 Center for Health Sciences

Coffee and light refreshments will be available for attendees who confirm before 9:00am on Tuesday, January 19th, when we place the catering order. (Please be advised that we require reservations because of university policy; we must submit a list of confirmed attendees when placing our catering order.)

Seating is limited; reservations are REQUIRED. Please RSVP to reserve if you plan on attending. There may not be seating available for drop-ins on the day of the forum.

Reservations may be made by contacting History & Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email:

This UCLA History of Medicine and Medical Humanities Research Forum (this is the 33rd meeting of the series) is made possible by the History & Social Studies of Medicine Program, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections.