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10 Bizarre Therapies in Mental Illness Treatment History

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3. Metrazol Shock Therapy

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In the 1930s, a pathologist named Ladislas von Meduna observed that patients who experienced epileptic seizures would afterward become calmer. This led him to test and see if the same effect could be achieved in patients suffering from schizophrenia. After experimenting with various drugs such as strychnine and absinthe, the physician eventually found metrazol to be an effective solution. Metrazol stimulated the respiratory and circulatory systems and triggered seizures. Clinical reports indicate that the treatment appeared to improve symptoms in nearly half of patients. However, many also suffered vertebral fractures, myocardial damage and pulmonary tuberculosis as a result of treatment. Researchers later realized the therapy was actually not all that effective and it was barred in 1982 by the FDA. This form of seizure therapy was a precursor to electric shocks and ECT.

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