It’s not every day that you get to step into a make-believe time machine that transports you to some of the most pivotal moments of history. Today however, we will be taking a mini magical school bus ride (in our psyche of course) into the history of psychology.
Thanks to amazing researchers around the world, the realm of psychology has advanced in sectors of medication, understanding of illness and treatments. Albeit there are still many questions left unanswered, but as a psychology student in her final year who has been subject to reading countless articles from a wide range of fields in psychology, I feel that we have done a good job in terms of introducing humane and beneficial techniques to address mental illness. But, let’s take a step back. What would have happened if these advances were never made?
- Today we understand mental illnesses to be a mix of genetics, exposure to daily stressors, abuse, drugs, environment, chemical imbalances in the body or neurological issues. (note: these risk factors are not for one illness but a variety). But back in the day, it was thought that mental illnesses were a result of demons and evil spirits. But how did they get rid of the demons and evils spirits you ask? They drilled holes in people’s brains to create a window for these forces of darkness to exit.
- If you got diagnosed with a mental disorder today, we would treat you with a range of medications (if necessary) and behavioural therapies. In the 1940s however, we would have lobotomized you. Yes, you read that correct. We would have jammed a 10inch ice pick into your eye socket and wiggled it around in your brain to shred the part of your brain that is giving you the mental illness. Boom. Mental illness gone!
- The logical way to treat a schizophrenic is to provide them with a combination of medication and therapy. This probably the safest method. But back in the day they had another idea. “Lets’ induce a coma!”. And that’s exactly what they did. To help “cure” schizophrenic patients, doctors with induce a coma with heavy doses of insulin. Supposedly that caused them to wake up “cured”. Today however there would be an array of ethical issues surrounding that.
We can all thank the heavens for allowing psychological methods and treatments to come this far. Without it, a significant chunk of us would be walking around with parts of our brains dismembered and holes in our brains.