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October 1934


Arch NeurPsych. 1934;32(4):681-703. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1934.02250100003001

Acute psychoses following operation were probably known to Ambroise Paré (sixteenth century), but the first good description of such a condition is attributed to Dupuytren (1819),1 who published a report of a case of "delirium nervosum" (to be referred to later). The subject received increasing attention with the widespread use of antiseptics, and the writings of the middle of the century speak of the etiologic connection of these agents, especially iodoform, with the psychotic developments. After the introduction of asepsis these toxic manifestations became less frequent, but then interest centered on the anesthetics. Psychoses following anesthesia with chloroform, ether and nitrous oxide were described. On the whole, the belief that the psychoses owed their origin to the anesthetic was not accepted, and stress came to be laid on two major factors: (1) The preexistence of mental disorder, especially chronic alcoholism, which came to overt attention after operation. That is,