O advento do tratamento psiquiátrico moderno: A terapia convulsiva de László Meduna

Translated title of the contribution: Lessons from an early account of convulsive therapy

Brigitta Baran, István Bitter, Gábor S. Ungvári, Zoltán Nagy, Gábor Gazdag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Convulsive therapy (COT) is a major European contribution to the psychiatric armamentarium and biological psychiatry. COT was introduced in psychiatry by László Meduna, a Hungarian neuropsychiatrist. All subsequent publications about the first patient treated with COT, Zoltán L (ZL), were based on Meduna's papers and autobiography. After 4 years of catatonic stupor, ZL received camphor-induced COT which resulted in full remission and discharge from the institution. The aim of this paper is to reconstruct ZL's case history from the original case notes-partly written by Meduna himself-which were recovered from the archives of the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology. The case notes show that ZL repeatedly received COT between 1934 and 1937, first with camphor and then with cardiazol induction. After the first course of COT the catatonic stupor was resolved and the psychotic symptoms subsided. However, the remission lasted for only a few months and was followed by a relapse. Despite repeated courses of COT, ZL never became symptom free again, was never discharged and died in the Institute in 1945. This historical case is discussed from both the diagnostic and therapeutic points of view, and an attempt is made to explain the possible reasons for the discrepancies found between Meduna's account and ZL's case notes.

Translated title of the contributionLessons from an early account of convulsive therapy
Original languagePortuguese
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalRevista de Psiquiatria Clinica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Camphor
  • Cardiazol
  • Convulsive treatment
  • History of psychiatry
  • László Meduna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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