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October 1, 1938

The Pharmacological Shock Treatment of Schizophrenia

JAMA. 1938;111(14):1322. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790400068039

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The book presents in convenient form Sakel's method of the insulin treatment of schizophrenia. The procedure is clearly outlined and many suggestions are made which will be helpful to the practitioner. Emphasis is laid on individualizing the procedure in different cases, but the criteria which decide at what phase the treatment should be interrupted are vague. A number of case histories are critically discussed. Sakel undoubtedly deserves credit for showing that schizophrenia can be "cured" by a treatment involving definite physiologic changes in the brain, but his attempts to account for them are unscientific. It seem to be regrettable that a book that is bound to be read by psychiatrists all over the country contains passages such as "The action of insulin therefore consists in: (1) neutralization of the excitant hormone and (2) vagotonic muffling of the cell." Investigations of other authors on the insulin treatment are almost completely omitted.

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