The Finding My Psych Health and Wellness Podcast

The Finding My Psych Health and Wellness Podcast

Controversial & Dangerous Treatments For Mental Illness - A Dark History

October 23, 2021

“We will be judged by how we treated the most vulnerable in our society.”

Historical controversial treatments for the mentally ill in review

Controversial Treatments

Based on listener feedback, today, I review the dark history of treatments for mental illness. In my review, I highlight the most astonishing practices – Who knows how well intentioned these actors were. Nevertheless, treatments such as blood letting, insulin shock therapy, and lobotomy were anything but humane. Finally, I draw attention to the current practice of Conversion Therapy, a modern treatment for homosexuality, based in prejudice and bigotry.

Episode Outline

Welcome to Episode 55: Controversial Treatments for Mental Illness

  1. What We Do:
    • Behavioural Medicine and Health Psychology
    • Providing easily accessible content designed to help you design your own transformative experience.

  2. Today:
    • A look at historical and current forms of treatment for the mentally ill that also produce uncertain, if not dangerous, outcomes.

  3. Services Review:
    • Finding My Psych offers three core services focused on promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
      • Foundations: Wellness Planning Workshop
      • Walking For Vitality: Powering Up
      • Running For Fitness: 5k Build-Up

Treatments – Dubious At Best

  1. Frontal Lobotomy (Leucotomies):

  2. Treatment of the “Humors”:
    • Originated from Ancient Greece – Popularized in the 1600s.
    • Illness originates from out of balance substances in the body.
    • Included bleeding and vomiting were the most common.

  3. “Moral” Treatments:
    • Physical treatments designed to end mental illness.
    • Popular in the 18th century.
    • Ice baths, restraints, isolation.

  4. Metrazol Shock Therapy:
    • Circulatory and respiratory stimulant.
    • Treatment for psychosis.
    • GABA Antagonist – Stimulant medication inducing convulsions and coma.
    • High incidence of death – Discontinued by FDA in 1982s.

  5. Insulin Shock Therapy:
    • Used widely in the 40s and 50s.
    • Regular treatments over several weeks slowly increased until coma induced.
    • 100-150 units – Some cases 450 units depending on individual.
    • Some people reported, “clarity” after coma.

  6. “Fixing The Homosexual”:
    • Removed as a mental illness in the 1970s.
    • Up to its removal, several approaches were used: ECT, Castration, Vasectomy, pubic nerve surgery and lobotomy.
    • Worst? – Transplanting testes from heterosexual men to homosexual men.
    • Today – Conversion Therapy – A form of brain washing using religious beliefs, shaping, shame, and isolation.

Not Considered Controversial Treatments

  1. ECT – Electroconvulsive Therapy (Since 1940s):
    • Done under general anesthesia
    • Small electric current inducing brief seizure.
    • Tx of severe depression, severe mania, and catatonia.