The Hunt For Cures: Mental Illness

Probing the Chemistry of The Brain

Asked once what makes people happy, Sigmund Freud replied, "Work and love." A strange answer from the man who invented the psychoanalyst's couch? Perhaps, but in his day, doctors could offer little more for patients suffering from anxiety or depression. And when faced with intractable mental illnesses like schizophrenia, they had to resort to brute force: inducing seizures and comas with chemicals and electric shocks, infecting patients with malaria to provoke brain-clearing fever, or slicing away parts of the brain's prefrontal cortex. In general, desperation guided treatment of the deranged.

The accidental discovery in the 1950s of the first synthetic tranquilizer,...

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