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July 1948

"PENTOTHAL SODIUM" AS AN ADJUNCT IN THERAPY OF ANXIETY HYSTERIA: Report of a Case

Arch NeurPsych. 1948;60(1):70-76. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1948.02310010076006
Abstract

THE RECENT WAR, with its large number of psychiatric casualties, stimulated psychiatrists to seek to develop methods of treatment which would work in simple, quick and effective fashion. The exigencies of warfare demanded changes in the commoner psychotherapeutic technics utilized in civilian practice. The goal of treatment as dictated by the military setting was to return the man to duty as soon as possible. Therefore, the therapeutic aim was limited to the working through of the immediate traumatic experience, and the problem was one of restoring the personality equilibrium rather than of effecting a fundamental change in lifelong neurotic patterns of behavior.

Grinker and Spiegel1 early in the war developed a method of treating men with "combat fatigue" by using "sodium pentothal" (sodium 5 -ethyl-5-[1-methylbutyl]-thiobarbiturate) intravenously as a sort of "chemical hypnotic agent." These authors coined the term "narcosynthesis" to describe their technic, and emphasized especially the need to

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