David J. Impastato
David John Impastato, M.D. – born January 8, 1903 (Mazara del Vallo, Sicily), died February 28, 1986 (Pasadena, California) – was a neuropsychiatrist who pioneered the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the United States. A treatment for mental illness initially called ""electroshock,"" ECT was developed in 1937 by Drs Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini, working in Rome. Impastato has been credited with the earliest documented use of the revolutionary method in North America, administered in early 1940 to a schizophrenic female in New York City. Soon after, he and colleague Dr. Renato Almansi completed the first case study of ECT to appear in a U.S. publication. Impastato spent the next four decades refining the technique, gaining recognition as one of its most authoritative spokesmen. He taught, lectured widely and published over fifty articles on his work. He called on ECT practitioners to observe the strictest protocols of patient safety, countered resistance to ECT from both the medical and cultural establishments, and met later challenges to electroconvulsive therapy from developments in psychopharmacology. Impastato would live to see ECT recommended by the American Psychiatric Association for a distinct core of intractable mental disorders. Though still not free of controversy, electroconvulsive therapy is the treatment of choice for an estimated 100,000 patients a year in the United States.