In the ending of Requiem For A Dream. The grandma gets ECT after using "Rainbow Pills" for weight loss. The most horrifiying part is. The whole procedure is done while She is awake.

The original novel is written in '78.


  • Was ECT done while being awake in 78? What about 2000 and what about now?
  • Does ECT really hurt?

1 Answer 1


Was ECT done while being awake in 78? What about 2000 and what about now?

Generally speaking no - the ECT done in Requiem for a Dream is the older so-called "unmodified" form where anesthesia and muscle relaxants weren't used. This was largely phased out in the 1950s and 1960s and replaced by the modern form where general anesthesia and muscle relaxants are given (both to avoid pain and the possible fractures to the long bones from the convulsions) so it would have been unlikely to have been in widespread use in 1978 (and even less so in 2000).

So I think it's safe to say that Selby was taking a bit of dramatic license by using the "unmodified" form in his depiction (much like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest exaggerated the minor retrograde amnesia effect into total memory loss).

Does ECT really hurt?

The original "unmodified" form most likely does - from the potential for secondary injuries to convulsing limbs if nothing else.

  • Could be country-specific. In Yekaterinburg, unmodified ECT was used as late as mid-2000s, due to absence of funding. Aug 2, 2021 at 18:34

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