This past sounds unbelievably barbaric to me and HAPPILY a part of the PAST of medicine.
Lobotomy, asylums, wet sheet treatment - it sounds akin to the backwards use of leeches centuries ago and the use of no anesthetics. These treatments were not scientific - being wet and cold is unhealthy (lowering the body temperature), destroying someone's brain can turn them into vegetables and tamper with their ability to care for themselves (as seen with brain tumors) - and people could be put into asylums who did NOT belong there, as well as be disturbing to live with people who had issues, maybe even making their problems, IF true, worse.
And even more harmful to the person than without them.
What a nightmare. I would protest it indefinitely. I'm glad this non-scientific nonsense/ torture is a part of history- where it belongs.
Quote from aknottedyarn
Many years ago there were insane asylums. Some were so bad that we even got a new English word to describe mental illness based on the facility, Bedlam. When I was a child we had State Hospitals. They were filled with people who did not fit well into society. Some were severely developmentally delayed, they were called retarded, idiots, imbeciles. These were real classifications. Now we see these words as swear words. I am hesitant to even write them. Others in these institutions were alcoholics, usually late stage with what was known as “wet brain”, also known as Korsakoff’s Syndrome or the earlier stage of Wernicke’s. The next category I recall were those who were asocial or had poor social skills. Many were very passive and followed directions well. All they wanted was to be left alone. The most difficult to care for before the mid 1950’s (before my time) were those who had what we traditionally think of as“mental illness”.
Schizophrenia, especially those with hallucinations, catatonia, depression, paranoia, and associated symptoms were common. There were some very dangerous individuals. My first job included some of these individuals. Most were not dangerous, as is the norm with people with mental illnesses.
One patient, Mr. C, frequently tried to purchase guns through the mail. We were allowed to stop this mail from going through. He was one with poor impulse control. There was once a bee in the common area. He picked up a solid metal chair to throw and attempt to kill the bee. This chair weighed a great deal but that would not stop this man, even in his 70’s at that time. He could not take any of the “normal”antipsychotics of the day. Mellaril, Thorazine, and Stelazine. Haldol was just coming in at that time. He could take nothing because he had been so heavily medicated in the past his liver was on its final go round.
Life in the old psych units must have been interesting. I am too young to recall wet sheet treatment except when I was the instructor we, my second year students and I once saw it used for a pregnant woman. It was torture, from my vantage point. Of course when it was used it was one of the few treatments used and found to be somewhat effective.
As a young grad I saw those who had been through the lobotomy treatment. Zombies might not quite be the right word. One could not control his body temperature so every once in a while he would spike a temp of106 degrees. Another, who was non-verbal, common with our post lobotomy patients, would regularly take off all his clothes and bless his manly parts. I was young at the time and shocked.
People recognized how dysfunctional these human warehouses were and eventually they disappeared. The thought was that many people in there did not need to be hospitalized. They were capable of self care. At around the same time the Vietnam War was ending. We saw many veterans returning with many psychiatric illnesses, most not seen in the VA system because the old VA system was not user friendly at all. I know there are still long waits and appeals are difficult but in the old days, soldiers did not have mental illness. We still see that attitude in some military areas even today.
So we had an influx of veterans back to the states at a time when the war was not very well accepted. Protests were common. It was the first televised war. Our veterans, who had a new kind of fighting to deal with, who had seen too much, been led by people who did not understand the enemy came home to a place that rejected them. “Fragging” an officer was not uncommon so many of these returning had multiple layers of pain that became toxic, some called it PTSD. At the same time drug culture was gaining new converts. The war on drugs started and every person with a lick of oppositional behaviors tried drugs and many became hooked. Before this time drug use was more limited to certain jobs, cultures,and classes. Soldiers in search of relief from their PTSD symptoms started to use these same chemicals.
This is a bit of the history of mental illness treatment. Next installment of my nightmare will consider more modern ways of dealing with mental illness.