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Question:
My great uncle, who was in his 30s, was diagnosed with dementia praecox in the 1920s and spent some time in a Richmond, Virginia sanitarium. Could you please tell me what types of treatment he likely received there?

John W. Hancock
Concord, North Carolina


Answered by Alex Beam:
As I am sure you know, d.p. was a catchall diagnosis that included many possible ailments. It would be interesting to know how long he stayed in the hospital.

He would NOT have had "drug therapy," as we understand it today, because Thorazine, the so-called "chemical straitjacket," was not in widespread use until the early 1950s. Nor, I suspect, would he have undergone the shock therapies -- electric, insulin coma, or metrazol -- because they were not pervasive until the 1930s.

Rest; sedatives; "hydrotherapy." Those would be my guesses.


Alex Beam


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