English 11

ACT reading practice

DIRECTIONS: The passage in this test is followed by several questions. After reading the passage, choose the best answer to each question. You may refer to the passage as often as necessary.

Passage II--
Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy

In 1938, an Italian neurologist named Ugo Cerletti was the first to describe Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy (ECT) as a treatment for mental health disorders in humans. The idea came to him by as he was watching pigs being anesthetized with transcranial (over the skull) electroshock before being butchered. In his human subjects with acute-onset schizophrenia, improvement in most patients after 10 to 20 ECT shocks on alternate days was startling. One unexpected benefit of transcranial electroshock was that it provoked retrograde amnesia, or a loss of all memory of events immediately before the shock, including its perception. Therefore, the patients had no negative feelings towards the therapy. Furthermore, ECT was more reliable, controllable, and less dangerous to the patient than older methods of treating schizophrenia. By the 1960s, it was an integral part of medical psychiatry in most hospitals in the USA and elsewhere.

Despite its effectiveness, the popularity of ECT greatly decreased in the 1960s and 1970s, due to the use of more effective neuroleptics and as a result of a strong anti-ECT movement. ECT is a highly controversial therapy. First, there were many examples of ECT being used to subdue and to control patients in psychiatric hospitals. Troublesome patients received several shocks a day, many times without proper restraint or sedation. Medical Historian David J. Rothman affirmed in an NIH Consensus Conferenceon ECT in 1985:

  • "ECT stands practically alone among the medical/surgical interventions in that misuse was not the goal of curing but of controlling the patients for the benefits of the hospital staff"

Second, the 1970’s brought movements against institutionalized psychiatry in Europe and particularly in the USA. Together with psychosurgery, ECT was denounced by libertarians. They pointed to brutal ECT use in the popular 1962 novel written by Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, based on the author's experiences in an Oregon state mental hospital. The novel was later made into a highly successful movie by Czech director Milos Forman, starring Jack Nicholson. It has also been alleged that ECT causes permanent brain damage. By the 1980’s, very few mental health practitioners were advertising their use of ECT.

However, ECT is still used throughout the world for severe depression and other psychiatric or neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease) that medications do not remedy. Sometimes ECT is used for older adults who are taking multiple medications for other illnesses and who are not able to take additional medications for depression, or for those people who cannot tolerate the side effects of the medication.


1. The main purpose of the passage is:
A. to explain why ECT is bad
B. to explain how ECT is good
C. to give an overview of ECT
D. to explain how to perform ECT

2. According to the passage, "denounced" most nearly means:
A. Praised
B. Donated
C. Condemned
D. Forgave

3. The first paragraph of the passage suggests that prior to ECT,
A. Most mental health treatments were successful
B. Mental health treatments used a combination of drugs and family therapy
C. Mental health treatments were dangerous and unreliable
D. Italy and Germany had not contributed to advances in mental health

4. It can be reasonably inferred from the passage that “psychosurgery” is:
A. A liberal practice
B. Sometimes ineffective
C. Denounced for its attack on human freedom
D. A useful complement to ECT in some patients

5. According to the passage, Jack Nicholson
A. Underwent psychosurgery in an Oregon mental health facility
B. Starred in a highly successful movie by Ken Kesey
C. Is an advocate for the banning of ECT
D. Starred in a highly successful movie by Milos Forman

6. In can be inferred from the passage that "neurolyptics" are
A. alternate therapies to ECT
B. superior to the quality of ECT
C. critics of the use of ECT
D. advocates for the use of more ECT

7. Information in the passage as a whole best supports that:
A. The use of ECT has increased in popularity
B. The use of ECT has decreased in popularity
C. The use of ECT is still as widely used today as it was in 1938
D. The use of ECT is banned in the United States

8. Which of the following is NOT a benefit of ECT?
A. The patients had no negative feelings towards the therapy
B. The method was more reliable than other methods of therapy
C. The method was more controllable than other methods of therapy
D. The method was inexpensive for hospitals to administer

9. The main function of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as used in the article is to:
A. Show the current popularity of ECT in the 1970’s
B. Show the effectiveness of the treatment
C. Show the brutality of the treatment
D. Show the treatment was used on famous people

10. In the final paragraph, lines 50-57, the author states:
A. The current laws prohibiting the use of ECT
B. The ways ECT is used currently
C. The various reasons ECT was used in the past
D. The long term side effects of ECT on patients