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Neuroleptics and mortality: a 50-year cycle

Invited commentary on … Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

David Healy*
Affiliation:
North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Bangor, North Wales, UK
*
Dr David Healy, North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Hergest Unit, Bangor, North Wales LL57 2PW UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1248 384452; fax: +44(0)1248 371397; e-mail: Healy_Hergest@compuserve.com
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The paper by Joukamaa et al (2006, this issue) would have interested Heinz Lehmann, a German émigré psychiatrist working at Verdun hospital in Montreal, who was one of the first clinicians to investigate the effects of chlorpromazine in North America and was the first to publish an article outlining its clinical impact (Lehmann & Hanrahan, 1954). Lehmann was no simple enthusiast for physical treatments, having demonstrated that mute and deteriorated people with schizophrenia in Verdun's back wards responded to placebo injections of ‘new experimental hormones' when the injection site was painted with a disinfectant that left a prominent red stain (Lehmann, 1993). However, chlorpromazine was different. Although previous treatments had provided some benefits, nothing produced quite such dramatic effects in the experience of senior researchers such as Lehmann. Chlorpromazine ignited a wave of enthusiasm in psychiatry sufficient to sweep aside post-War differences between the Germans and the French, for instance, so that they and others convened to share their experiences on the benefits of the new drugs at international meetings rapidly organised by university departments rather than pharmaceutical companies.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

Footnotes

See pp. 122–127, this issue.

Declaration of Interest

D.H. has been an expert witness for plaintiffs in a number of cases involving antidepressants and homicide or suicide, and an expert witness in a case involving the patent of an antipsychotic drug. He has spoken on manufacturers' platforms for a number of antipsychotic drugs.

References

Joukamaa, M., Heliovaara, M., Knekt, P. et al (2006) Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 122127.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lehmann, H. E. (1993) Before they called it psycho-pharmacology. Neuropsychopharmacology, 8, 291303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lehmann, H. E. (1996) Psychopharmacotherapy. In The Psychopharmacologists, Vol. 1 (ed. Healy, D.), pp. 159186. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
Lehmann, H. E. & Hanrahan, G. E. (1954) Chlorpromazine, new inhibiting agent for psychomotor excitement and manic states. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 71, 227237.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
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