Wild Ideas for Treatment of Mental Health Problems

by | Jun 9, 2020 | Mental health problems, Treatment | 0 comments

Nowadays there are many useful types of treatment for mental health problems. Forward thinkers occasionally develop new treatment methods. 

In the past, some innovative treatment methods went awry. Take trephining, for instance, which was used hundreds of years ago. It involved drilling a hole in a person’s head, probably to let out evil spirits. That concept never became popular for mental health problems. However, if you have a serious bleed happening in your brain, a surgeon may drill a hole in your skull to relieve the internal pressure before your brain gets squished.

Like trephining, psychosurgery involves brain manipulation. The psychosurgeon cuts out parts of the brain as a mental health treatment. It has been used mostly to treat schizophrenia. There is no good evidence that it helps, so it is almost never used now.

Bleeding and purging were once popular treatments for mental health and other problems. They usually made the patient worse.

You may not have heard of deep sleep therapy. It involved giving a mix of barbiturates to individuals who had schizophrenia. The drugs put the patients into a deep sleep. For many, the sleep ended in death. You won’t see that treatment nowadays.

Electro-convulsive shock treatment (ECT) has been around for decades. It is sometimes used for treatment-resistant depression. It often has a quick, positive effect. The effect almost invariably fades away, leading to more shock treatments. ECT does not work for schizophrenia, but some physicians still use it for that.

I have mentioned only medical treatments so far. But there have been other dead-end innovations. Exorcism was popular once. It was often used with psychotic individuals who seemed possessed by the devil. I would rate it safer than trephining.

Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst and follower of Freud, invented “orgone” accumulators, human-sized boxes that block electrical fields. He sold these for the treatment of cancer and – you guessed it – schizophrenia. I reckon that these devices gave Woody Allen the idea for the orgasmatron in the movie Sleeper.

Reich ended up in prison for mail fraud. Woody Allen ended up — well, that is a story for another day.wild ideas

If you see a theme here it is that individuals with schizophrenia have been the targets of many failed treatment methods over the years. The disorder can be disabling and hard to treat. Modern treatment usually involves drugs that reduce hallucinations and delusions. Without putting any holes in a person’s head.


Photo by Jon Butterworth on Unsplash





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