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1950's and 1960's
A Historical Overview of Mental Illness Treatment

In the 1950's the use of psychotherapy and medication became the leading treatments for autism, manic depression, and schizophrenia.

 The term psychotherapy can descirbe any treatment that involves talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, or any other kind of pyschotherapist. The objective of individual psychotherapy is to help patients understand why they are acting and thinking in ways that are troubling or dagerous to themselves or to others so they have more control over their behavior and can correct them.
 
In response to the theory that autism was a possible link to schizophrenia, the two disorders were treated in similar ways. In the 1950's psychotherapy was introduced and had varying effects on the disorders. In the case of schizophrenia and manic depression, psychotherapy was very successful in helping patients understand their problems;however, 'talking therapy' was an unsuccessful treatment for autism.
 Medication was introduced in the 1950's. The first pharmaceutical treatment, Thorazine, was shown to improve dramatically the condition of patients suffering from shizophrenia. For many patients, Thorazine controlled psychotic symptoms so well that many could live relatively normal lives. After spending years out of the working world a lot of these former patients were unable to organize their lives, find housing or work, and became homeless.
 
 
This was because outpatient services were never created. The problem escalated over the next few decades before any system of rehabilitation was put into effect. Outpatient clinics, job search assistance, and halfway housing are just a few of the programs for deinstitutionalized patients.
 
Lithium carbonate, a natural mineral salt, is used to help control both mania and depression in bipolar disorder. The drug generally takes two to three weeks to become effective. People with bipolar disorder may take lithium during periods of relatively normal mood to delay or prevent future episodes of mania or depression.
 
 
 

 A wide variety of drugs from hallucinogens to anti-psychotics were used in an effort to treat autism. The heavy sedatives had little success in easing the symptoms of autism apart from lowering serotonin levels, which had been found to be particularly high in autistic patients. Although no medication can correct the brain structures or impaired nerve connections that seem to underline autism, there are medications still used to treat some symptoms of autism. Scientists found that 60% of patients with autism who used fluoxetine (Prozac) became less distraught and aggressive, and could better handle changes in routine or environment.Other physical treatments that were similar to those used with schizophrenia included electrically induced methods and other pharmacological treatments such as megavitamin therapy and hormone treatments. Although it is possible that autistic children vary in their responses to treatment, on the whole all of the above methods demonstrated little or no success.

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