Showing posts with label psychiatry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label psychiatry. Show all posts

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 17 (2 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1601

W.W. Godding, M.D.,

Government Hospital for the Insane.
Washington, D.C., July 17, 1896

Dr. Walter Reed.
Curator, U.S. Army,
Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctor:

In reply to your communication of recent date referring to your investigation of the etiology of malarial diseases etc; I have to inform you that we record the mental rather than the physical condition of our patients, and in this respect our statistics differ from those of a general hospital.

Many of the insane treated here suffer from malaria, but up to this time it has only been treated as a complication and not as a distinct disease, hence it would be impossible to give you definite information in the direction you request.

Regretting my inability to aid you in your interesting and valuable investigations, I remain,
Very respectfully,

W.W. Godding,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NY Times op-ed on Sigmund Freud's visit to the US

Here's an interesting bit on the history of medicine...

Freud’s Adirondack Vacation
Published: August 29, 2009
How an invitation from a prominent American scientist 100 years ago gave psychoanalysis its start in the United States.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jack McMillen painting

This 1944 painting by Jack McMillen was commissioned by the U.S. government for Walter Reed Army Medical Center as part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) artists' program of World War II. It illustrates the historical function of the Forest Glen annex of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a holding and rehabilitation unit for medical patients, including psychiatric patients, during World War II.

This is a role the Forest Glen annex also played in subsequent wars. Psychiatric patients were identified, and to an extent stigmatized, by wearing maroon hospital clothing. For many years this painting was on display at the Forest Glen annex in Silver Spring, Maryland.
(from a publication by the Borden Institute)

The painting is egg tempera on canvas and measures 7 by 10.5 feet. It now is on display at the museum.

I also found a website while searching for whatever I could find on the artist. It's the New Deal Art Registry, a fun site to browse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

St Elizabeths hospital history

We've got a lot of autopsy records from St Elizabeths hospital in our Neuroanatomical collections. A new article discusses the race relations at the hospital, especially between the long-term patients and the soldiers arriving after WW1. Ask for an interlibrary loan of "`These strangers within our gates': race, psychiatry and mental illness among black Americans at St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC, 1900-40" by Matthew Gambino, History of Psychiatry, 19:4, 2008. I read it at work today - Matthew's used our collection in the past although not for this article.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Complicated grief

The Washington Post ran an article today about a condition called complicated grief. We have all had loss in our lives that we have grieved over but as deep as the grief is when fresh, over time it lessens. People who suffer from complicated grief don’t experience that lessening. A discovery that a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens is activated by thoughts and memories of what was lost helps to explain this phenomenon. This part of the brain is associated with cravings and addiction, and in anticipating a reward. The theory is that those people who can't adjust to their loss are experiencing something pleasurable in their memories and "are addicted to the happy memories."

This discovery also explains why these people don't respond to traditional remedies for depression, which act on a different brain system involving serotonin. Scientists thing that a drug that acts on dopamine, which is involved with the nucleus accumbens, might be more effective.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pharmacology as a technology

Coincidentally the NY Times reported on the deaths of two men who developed drugs for treating mental states.

The articles are:"Frank Ayd, 87, Who Advanced Thorazine Use, Is Dead,", by DOUGLAS MARTIN, March 21, 2008.
Dr. Ayd studied his patients’ responses to early antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, helping to give birth to the field of psychopharmacology.

and: "Frank Berger, 94, Miltown Creator, Dies," By BENEDICT CAREY, March 21, 2008.
Dr. Berger helped start the modern era of drug development with his invention of Miltown, the first mass-market psychiatric drug and a forerunner of Valium and Prozac.

These two obituaries show what a short time has passed since mind and mood altering drugs, besides alcohol, were developed and have become common, helping millions of people, but leading to many debates over the proper use of them. For thousands of years, medicine used some basic drugs and these didn't change much. In the 19th and 20th century, that was no longer true, and a new branch of the history of medicine opened up.