Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in Literature: Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Sylvia Plath's well-known novel, The Bell Jar, recounts her experience of a severe depressive episode. In the novel, the protagonist is treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), as was Plath in life. The first ECT is given in the now-obsolete "unmodified" form, without general anesthesia. Later in the story, she receives ECT again, this time with full general anesthesia and muscle relaxation, as is the standard of care today. This chapter examines how the novelistic descriptions of the treatment compare with actual clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Brain Research
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123
ISSN (Electronic)1875-7855


  • ECT
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Plath


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