Previously published in examiner and factoidz
The 20 Century treatment for mentally patients
Even though people died from crude experimentation on frontal lobe
neurosurgery, experimentation on animals and humans continued. For
whatever reason, the first leucotomies,(trepanning) was
considered a better alternative than locking the mentally ill in insane
No real therapy was ever administered in insane asylums because
the mentally ill were considered to have degenerative hereditary mental
diseases that could not be cured and would only get worse.
Several new and hideous therapies were first considered as a
mental health break through to relief the symptoms of the severely
These therapies included:
Malarial therapy for general paralysis of the insane (1917).
The intent was that the malarial vaccine would cure the symptoms. General
paralaysis of the insane was a condition of extreme psychosis
brought on by the syphlis infection. The inflicted became totally
disoriented, immobile and died within three to five years after the
Barbiturate deep sleep therapy (1920), insulin
shock therapy (1933), cardisol (drug) shock therapy (1934), and
electronconvulsive shock therapy (1938) where also alternative therapies
that did not require boring holes in the skull.
Prefontal leucotomies became popularized in 1935.
The conditions of the asylums were horrendous and people were not
treated any better than animals. However, none of the other therapies of
the time were any better and these extreme therapies paved the way for
the exceptance of leucotomies.
Patients and their families were basically powerless to do
anything to prevent these radical experimental therapies and became
human guinea pigs.
The leucotomy was a surgerical procedure that furthered the work
of Gottlieb Burkhardt. Lodivicus Pussepp, an Estonian doctor,
experimented on his psychiatric patients by cutting the nerve endings in
the cortex. His results were less than favorable.
Ten years later, he still attempted a different procedure which he felt
would be successful as a therapy for his patients. This treatment
involved drilling holes above the frontal lobes of mentally ill patients
and injecting chemicals to destroy the tissue. He felt his work would
advance therapeutic methods to control behavior in violent patients.
Still his work work was a failure. He never gave up on the idea of
prefrontal surgery for mentally ill patients.
Small pockets of surgeons in his day continued this type of treatment
with little success.
Montrealers have a wonderful world renown neurological hospital: