Other Treatment Options

Other Treatment Options

Mesmerism became popular in order to cure mental illnesses.  Originally given a bad name because of the quackery of the theory behind it, James Braid renamed mesmerism as hypnotism.  Instead of stroking the body to reconnect it with harmony in animal magnetism like Anton Mesmer had proposed, Braid had his patients fix their attention on his lancet case until they fell asleep (Dickinson, 1990).

Opiates were also useful drugs, used to put patients to sleep and for relaxation purposes (Dickinson, 1990).

The Rest Cure, developed by S. Weir Mitchell, consisted of 6 weeks’ bed rest, a high calorie diet, and massages.  He originally used this treatment for Civil War soldiers but found that it also helped cure some people’s mental illnesses (Dickinson, 1990).

Freud’s Psychoanalysis Theory was also used towards treating mental illnesses beginning in 1885.  Although many people criticized his use of prodding into personal lives in order to treat his patients, he believed in his theory of psychoanalysis (Dickinson, 1990).

Psychosurgery was first performed by Dr. Burckhardt in 1890.  He severed the connections between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain in hopes that it would help cure certain mental illnesses.  After the surgeries, he found that some patients were easier to manage whereas others were not.  Surgeons modified this treatment and it became popular again in the 1930s-1950s (Dickinson, 1990).

Prophylactic lithium was first used by Carl Lange in 1886 in order to treat depression.  The first recorded preventative drug therapy case in psychiatry was his prescription of prophylactic lithium, exercise, and diet (Dickinson, 1990).

Hypnotism was one belief in how to cure the mentally ill.


Dickinson, E. (1990). From madness to mental health: A brief history of psychiatric treatments in the UK from 1800 to the present. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 419-424.

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