• Question: What is your opinion on historical methods of medicating mental health?

    Asked by callum to Robert, Olly, Nicola, Jasmin, Dennis, Caroline on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Mental health illness is similar to mental illness. It is therefore important to take social, cultural and environmental forces, and personal histories to tell how a particular mental health issue emerged.

      It’s like when you visit your GP, they ask you a number of questions to best help you with your illness.

    • Photo: Oliver Clabburn

      Oliver Clabburn answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I’m not sure how historical you’re thinking Callum? I’m also not too knowledgeable about some of the medical treatments/interventions. I do know that labotomies were used for some mental health issues- it’s definitely a good thing that those have stopped!

    • Photo: Caroline Brett

      Caroline Brett answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Some of the historical methods of treatment mental health disorders were barbaric! Things like trephination (where holes were drilled in the skull to let the ‘evil spirits’ out) and lobotomies. Ugh.
      Some methods, like ECT, are still in use today I think but only in very extreme circumstances where everything else has been tried first.
      I’m also not a fan of the tendency for people to be held in institutions for behaviour that was against the norms of society 🙁
      But these methods reflected the knowledge and understanding that people had at the time about mental health. Perhaps in the future people will look back on how we treat mental health disorders now and think they’re barbaric! I hope not

    • Photo: Robert Dempsey

      Robert Dempsey answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      A lot of medications used today have been around for quite a while! Sometimes its easy to look back and be critical of how people were treated but at the time these medications or therapies were being used there was little understanding of what effects these approaches were having. Saying that, some therapies were extreme and barbaric in nature (some of the surgical approaches in particular). How we treat and support people with mental health issues is changing and has changed, and new therapies/medications have been developed and tested. I think the better we can understand how these mental health issues develop, the better we can identify the factors causing distress and then target these in treatment (we definitely need more of this work in terms of the psychological pathways to mental health issues and how we target these pathways in psychological therapies).

    • Photo: Jasmin Moon

      Jasmin Moon answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      In the history of medicine, medicating mental health problems is actually a relatively recent development (they were first used in the 1940’s).
      I think having a medical breakthrough in treating mental health problems would have been a great relief for those who weren’t benefitting from the existing treatments.

    • Photo: Nicola Johnstone

      Nicola Johnstone answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      I think there is an ethical part to this question. Some of the medications we use now have been in use for a long time. The difference in use I would guess (although I don’t have the evidence to hand so I might be wrong but you did ask for an opinion) is consent. Today, people are involved in their treatment and can take the advise of a qualified medical professional. Historically, I think there was less informed choice, and forced medication.

Comments