Early Treatments for Schizophrenia

As an incurable mental illness, the causes of schizophrenia were not entirely known in the earlier days--namely before the turn of the 19th century.

Because doctors didn't know what they were dealing with, inhumane and often dangerous treatments were employed to help rid the afflicted person of the disease. None of these treatments are widely used today, with the exception of electroconvulsive therapy. Newer, less barbaric treatments for schizophrenia are now employed.

The lobotomy

The lobotomy, a procedure that permanently cut nerves in the prefrontal part of the brain, was often used to treat schizophrenics. It was thought that, because the procedure had a sedative effect, it somehow cured the illness. However, results were mixed and, most often, not lasting.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure that sends shock waves to particular parts of the brain. This type of treatment is still used today and is much more progressed than it used to be. The therapy produces small seizures in the brain that doctors believe help reset brain patterns back to normal.

Tranquilizing chair

A popular standard seen in old movies, the tranquilizing chair would restrict a patient with tight leather restraints that were designed to restrict blood flow and thereby "tranquilize" the patient to reduce muscle movement and psychotic behavior.

Spinning

Physical interventions like spinning were also used, where patients were spun round and round with the hopes that the motion would help to rearrange the contents of their brains. These same patients were then sometimes dunked into cold water to "shock" the brain into normalcy.

Source: Penn Med
Source: Medscape

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