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M I N D


…the same insane who, reduced to chains for a long period of


years remained in a constant state of fury, walked afterwards quietly with a simple straightjacket and talked to everyone…


Philippe Pinel, quoted by Louis H Cohen


in ‘The Experiment at Bicêtre: 1793’, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 1932


Sometimes I continu’d in the Bed all the Day: Sometimes they put


Bolts upon my Hands and Fetters on my Feet, when I prov’d violent and unruly (which I often did);


for I would often strive and fight... to get away from them, and so to


free my self from that Place, which thought to have been Hell…


The memory jacket


In the Prinzhorn Collection at the psychiatric hospital of the University of Heidelberg is a linen jacket sewn and worn by a seamstress, Agnes Richter, who was an inmate in a Dresden asylum in the late nineteenth century. The entire garment is embroidered with texts – some legible, others indecipherable – and may have functioned as a kind of diary, as the label suggests: ‘Memories of her life in the seams of every piece of washing and clothing’.


Presbyterian minister George Trosse describing his experience in a ‘Physician’s House’ in The Life of the Reverend Mr George Trosse, 1714


Read


Connolly J. The Treatment of the Insane Without Mechanical Restraints. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2014.


Foucault M. History of Madness. Abingdon: Routledge; 2006.


Moncrieff J. The Bitterest Pills: The troubling story of antipsychotic drugs. Basingstoke: Palgrave; 2013.


Valenstein ES. Blaming the Brain: The truth about drugs and mental health. New York: Free Press; 1998.


La camisole chimique


Political caricature featuring a straitjacket Etching Thomas Rowlandson, 1784 12171i Wellcome Library


This satirical cartoon shows Bedlam physician Dr Monro referring to the sad case of politician Charles James Fox (1749–1806): ‘As I have not the least hope of his recovery, let him be remov’d amongst the incurable’s’, a comment on the fall of the short-lived coalition Fox had formed with his former adversary.


Like the straitjacket before it, chlorpromazine, the first antipsychotic drug to become an established treatment, was hailed by many as an effective way of liberating psychiatric patients from restraints and locked wards. Synthesised in 1950 at Rhône-Poulenc in France, the drug induced ‘artificial hibernation’ when first tested at the Val-de-Grâce military hospital in Paris. Follow-up trials by psychiatrists Jean Delay and Pierre Denker indicated chlorpromazine could reduce excitation and agitation in manic patients, who tended to stay still and silent, showing a detached indifference to the world around them. Within 13 years, around 10 000 chlorpromazine-


related research articles had been produced; by 1970, Smith Kline & French’s sales of the drug (under the trade name Thorazine) totalled over $116 million. By this time, critics of the drug were calling it the ‘camisole chimique’, or chemical straitjacket. The similarities may be strong, but forcing someone to take a drug, which enters the patient’s body and causes physical or mental changes, could be viewed as a much greater violation of an individual’s autonomy than putting them in a straitjacket.


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