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Mental Illness in the 1920's & 1930's

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Sallie Hollingshead

on 26 February 2015

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Transcript of Mental Illness in the 1920's & 1930's

Mental Illness in the 1920's & 1930's
Mental Illness in the 1920's
The 1920's was a period of time in which there were not a lot of effective medicines for those who were mentally ill. This was a time where new techniques were being tested on patients. For example, Jules Wagner-Jauregg injected malaria into his patients to give them a fever thinking that this action would make the mental illness go away. Another technique was to physically restrain the patient as part of their treatment. Deep sleep therapy, for illnesses such as dementia, was another treatment where patients were drugged in order to put them in a deep sleep for a long period of time.
Mental Illness in 1930's
Common Treatments
Some examples of treatments were:
Insulin-induced comas
Malarial infections
Electroshock therapy
Hydrotherapy baths
They also used drugs, electro-convulsive therapy, and surgery to treat mental patients.
Fun Fact
There was an average of 1,221 patients committed to the County Borough and City Asylums in 1930
Electro-convulsive Shock Therapy
From Then to Now
Fast Fact:
Commonly performed to treat schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and obsession
First tested on two apes

Lobotomy is a medical procedure where neural passages in the front of a person's brain are surgically removed from the passages in the back of the brain.
The procedure is very time-consuming and is a delicate process. It is also very grueling and gruesome, and describing it would most likely make people queasy. The procedure requires the surgeons to have lots of skill and training.
Works Cited
How Mental Illnesses Related to Steinbeck's Life
Ugo Cerletti was an italien neorologist, he knew that metrazol-induced convulsions were good for the treatment of mentally unstable people however they were too unpredictable and dangerous. He noticed how electric shocks could be used as a sort of anthesia. With the help of Lucio Bini and L.B. Kalinowinski, he tested electro-convulsive shock therapy on animals and found out the correct parameters and the right technique. Patients got 10-20 shocks on alternate days. After patients recieved this treatment they seemed to improve. A benefit from the treatment was that it caused retrograde amnesia meaning that afterward patients did not have any negative feelings towards the treatment, unlike with the metrazol shock treatment. ECT did well against affective disorders, such as severe depression. However, electroconvulsive shock therapy faced negative reactions for many different reasons. One of those reasons was that it was misused in hospitals to subdue patients. These patients often did not receive proper restraint or sedation.

What one must think of is not how was Lennie mentally ill in
Of Mice and Men
, but what would Lennie's life had been like if George was not there to take care of him. He most likely would have been confined to an asylum and have been subjected to such treatments as electro-convulsive shock therapy or a lobotomy. John Steinbeck was influenced by how people were treated in such hospitals. In
Of Mice and Men
, Lennie would have had to undergo a much crueler and more horrible life than what he did end up going through. John Steinbeck also had a mentally disabled character in one of his other books,
Cannery Row
. In the end, the character is sent off to an asylum.
This is a picture of the electro-convulsive shock therapy.
This is a picture of a man in an insuin induced coma.
There were many treatments for mental illnesses that were introduced in the late 1930's. Many people hoped that these new "cures" would help solve the problems of the chronic mental illnesses that people had. Some of these new treatments were electro-convulsive shock therapy, prefrontal leucotomy (which is a form of surgery on the brain), and insulin-induced comas. Many of the mental illnesses back then are the same that they are today. However, now there are many more specific names for all of the different types as well as more specific treatments. Also. people who are just eccentric are no longer considered mentally ill, unlike most in the 1930's. In the 1930's many people were treated as if they are mentally ill when they were not.
This is a photograph of the inside of Dunning's Insane Asylum in Chicago.
"A Brilliant Madness."
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"C. 1920's Dunning Insane Asylum."
Urban Remains
Chicago News and Events RSS
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Endler, Norman S. "Regulation of Electroconvulsive Therapy."
Michigan Law Review 75.2 (1976): 363-412. Raven Press
. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
Mental Illness, Information about Mental Illness. Advameg, Inc.
, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
"Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand."
3. Mental Hospitals, 1910s to 1930s – Mental Health Services –. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
"University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry."
A Century of Improving Mental Health Care at Michigan. University of Michigan Health System
, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
Mental illness treatments now are completely different from treatments in the 1920's-30's. Many laws have changed, and frankly if a mentally unstable patient was treated the way mentally ill patients were in the 1920's and 1930's, it would cause many lawsuits. There are many different types of mental illnesses, and some of the well-known ones are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. Some of the common treatments for mentally unstable patients are medication, psychotherapy, group therapy, and partial hospital treatment.
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