Our latest Mental Health in Minutes segment explores the history of psychiatric treatments, from the infamous lobotomy to lesser-known oddities like malaria fever treatment. Listen to learn more as we uncover some of the strangest skeletons in psychiatry’s closet.

Content Warning: This episode includes discussion of psychiatric abuse, depression, and psychosis.


Anne Harrington, Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness (New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2019).

Charles Kellner, “Patient education: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (Beyond the Basics),” UptoDate, March 28, 2023. Ed. Peter P. Roy-Byrne and David Solomon.

Emma Dibdin, “The Controversial History of the Lobotomy,” Psych Central, May 6, 2022. Reviewed by Marc S. Lener, MD.

Glenn Frankel, “D.C. Neurosurgeon Pioneered ‘Operation Icepick’ Technique,” The Washington Post, April 7, 1980.

“How ECT Relieves Depression,” Johns Hopkins Medicine, June 19, 2018.

Jack El-Hai, “Race and Gender in the Selection of Patients for Lobotomy,” Wonders and Marvels.

James D. Page, “Treatment in mental disorders,” University of Rochester, 1949. Accessed in the National Library of Medicine Digital Collections.

“Lobotomy,” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Max Fink and William Karliner, “Primary Sources: Insulin Coma Therapy,” PBS.

Patriarca C, Clerici CA, Zannella S, Fraticelli C. Ugo Cerletti, Pathologica and electroconvulsive therapy [published online ahead of print, 2021 Sep 23]. Pathologica. 2021;113(6):481-487. doi:10.32074/1591-951X-263.

Renato M. E. Sabbatini, “Ladislas J. von Meduna: A Brief Biography,” Brain & Mind Magazine republished on CerebroMente.org, December 1997/March 1998.

Singh A, Kar SK. How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works?: Understanding the Neurobiological Mechanisms. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2017;15(3):210-221. doi:10.9758/cpn.2017.15.3.210.

Stephanie Bridger-Linning, “Tragic true story of Rosemary Kennedy, the political dynasty’s ‘lost’ sister, as her life inspires an opera,” Tatler, January 16, 2023.

UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence, “Banting & Best: Discovery of insulin, July 27, 1921,” UMass Chan Medical School.


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