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January 1957

Some Observations on the Use of Tranquilizing Drugs

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;77(1):86-92. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330310096016

The widespread acceptance and use of the so-called tranquilizing drugs constitutes one of the most noteworthy events in the recent history of psychiatry. This development is being hailed in many quarters as the beginning of a new era in psychiatry and "mental health." Even when these drugs are not claimed to "cure" the patient, it is asserted that their use makes him more amenable to other forms of "therapy," either within the hospital or outside. The purpose of this essay is not to evaluate the effects of these drugs on behavior. We accept as a premise (without, however, necessarily subscribing to it) that the pharmacological agents under consideration (chlorpromazine, reserpine, etc.) do indeed bring about the behavioral changes currently ascribed to them.1-3 What I wish to comment on, rather, is the social fact that these drugs are used. This event itself can rightly be made the subject of scientific