Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
Speaker: Dr Joanna Montcrieff (UCL)
Title: Magic bullets for mental disorders: the evolution of ideas about the nature of drug treatment for schizophrenia
When ‘antipsychotic’ drugs were introduced into psychiatry in the 1950s, they were thought to work by inducing a state of neurological suppression, which reduced behavioural disturbance, as well as psychotic symptoms. This view was reflected in the name ‘neuroleptic’. Within a few years, however, the idea that the drugs were a disease-specific treatment for schizophrenia or psychosis, and that they worked by modifying the underlying pathology of the condition, replaced this earlier view, and they became known as ‘antipsychotics’. This transformation of views about the drugs’ mode of action occurred with little debate or empirical evaluation in the psychiatric literature and obscured earlier evidence about the nature of these drugs. Drug advertisements in the British Journal of Psychiatry reflect the same changes, although the non disease-specific view persisted for longer. It is suggested that professional interests helped to facilitate the transformation of views about the nature of these drugs.
Location: UCL Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Room 544,* 5th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ