Medicine: Anesthetizing the Devil

Anesthetizing The Devil

From the Middle Ages, when sticks were used to "beat the devil" out of mental patients, through the middle '30s, when electric and insulin shock therapy began, physical treatment of the insane relied on rude methods. Even now, shock "cures" may be worse than the disease: they often fail to cure, and sometimes the patient breaks a jaw or crushes his backbone in violent, convulsive spasms.

Last week the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene announced that it had developed a gentler way of bringing on the coma which seems to relax sufferers from manic-depressive states. The...

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