Psychiatry has almost always been a topic of controversy. Humanity likes physical evidence to prove a point, and this particular field is all about mental structure that can only be observed through shady tests. Psychiatrists over the centuries have come up with their own forms of diagnoses and cures; some of them have helped and some of them have just been a scientific way to be inhumane. Let’s take a look first at the most absurd psychiatric treatments ever endorsed and then find out the revolutionary ones that actually helped humanity.


No psychiatric treatment thesis would be complete without mentioned this barbaric procedure that was suggested first by António Egas Moniz, who later was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work. This procedure concentrated on the prefrontal cortex of the brain and surgery of it would be about scraping portions off that were believed to be the cause of mental illness. Post the procedure, patients were observed to be worse-off physically and mentally. True, they didn’t show signs of their original mental disorder, but they were left with other permanent scars – Dr. Walter Freeman described it as “surgically induced childhood”. Thankfully, this procedure of scrapping off parts of the brain was banished from psychiatry altogether.




Shock Therapy

This has been one of the most controversial treatments for psychiatric patients. It involves electric charges being shot through a particular area in the subject’s brain and is supposed to eliminate the mental disorder. However, it is considered inhumane and cannot guarantee that electricity works to cure insanity. There are a couple of therapies included under shock therapy as follows:

  •      Insulin Shock Therapy: This form of shock therapy was invented by Manfred Sakel in the 1940s. It included injected large doses of insulin over several weeks that would cause the patient to lapse into a coma. This treatment was meant mainly for those suffering from schizophrenia. Usually seizures occurred between treatments, when the patient had not yet dived into another induced coma. Epileptic fits were considered to be part of the therapeutic procedures. Even though it helped with the mental condition, the side effects were horrendous including obesity and restlessness in patients, because the hyped amount of insulin in the body is not meant to be there. Luckily, this form of shock therapy was stopped because of other methods that were more humane and had scientific backing.
  •      Electroconvulsive Therapy: This form of therapy is commonly referred to as shock therapy. It is administered when the patient is under an anesthetic along with a muscle relaxant. The process is repeated for two-three times per week ‘til the symptoms of the mental illness all but vanish. However, many patients have been shown to relapse about a month after the therapy has been stopped. Running shock waves through a person’s brain has resulted in memory loss, general confusion and mood disorders. In the United Kingdom, shock therapy is passed throughout the brain. In case a patient fails to respond positively to other, more docile modes of treatment, the last resort is to put them under shock therapy. Shock therapy is considered legal because it requires prior consent. However, no medical practitioner can guarantee that it will work and that the change will be permanent.
study_psychiatry_hypnotherapy Hypnotherapy

Another form of psychiatric treatment that is perhaps the most non-injurious from the above-mentioned methods, is hypnotherapy. According to Wikipedia it is “a form of therapy used to create subconscious change in a patient in the form of new responses, thoughts, attitudes, behaviors or feelings. It is undertaken with a subject in hypnosis.” When a patient is hypnotized, his subconscious mind can be conditioned to perform in a certain way as directed by the hypnotist. It is believed to improve the mental performance of the patient and behave more civil as compared to when he/she was under the apparent spell of a mental illness.





Probably the most absurd form of therapy for mentally sick patients is a procedure known as trepanning. In ancient times it was believed that mental disorder = demonic possession. So when other humiliating forms of exorcism failed, a hole was literally drilled into the patient’s skull to provide an “escape route” for the spirit to leave the possessed. Although banished by civil society, this practice is still carried on in certain tribes from Peru and Columbia. Trepanning is performed now only for those whose brains are swelling or have other forms of physical deformity in the head.

Now we get to the Psychiatric treatments that actually work and are humane!

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Through a series of questionnaires and tests, psychiatrists are able to conclude what mental illness the patient is going through. This is one of the most widely used psychiatric treatments because it involves the patient trying to figure out what his/her problem is. With interviews, one-on-one talks and collective information gathering, there are multiple diagnoses given which can be narrowed down to the real problem. Here is where an actual conversation takes place over a long period of time where the doctor gets to know the patient, which never happened before modern times.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Like Cognitive Behavior Therapy, IPT also involves interviews with the patient by the psychiatrist. However, the difference is that this form of therapy is related to clinical depression. It gives the subject the chance to analyze himself/herself and determine how their behavior with other people also affects their own mood. It teaches the patient how to control inner feelings and keep a track of changes in mental thoughts and emotions. It has proven quite effective in treating those that face “the blues” for a lengthy period at a time.


For loved ones and those who generally care for a mentally unstable individual, this is the best and most sought after first step in curing the patient. Interventions are conducted in calm environments like at the home or in the office of the psychiatrist. Here, the subject is made to face how their actions are affecting those around them and come to terms with the root cause of the problem. Interventions work because it gives the patient a chance to voluntarily ask for help and seek counsel after realizing the negative impact of his/her own actions. It is an open and controlled dialogue that helps to heal everyone present.

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