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.
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