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December 17, 1960

The Value of Chemotherapy in Senile Mental DisturbancesControlled Comparison of Chlorpromazine, Reserpine-Pipradrol, and Opium

JAMA. 1960;174(16):2036-2042. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030160022006

Eighty patients over the age of 60 and suffering from combinations of depression, restless agitation, paranoid ideation, or confusion were assigned in a prearranged sequence to five treatment conditions. Sixteen patients each were given chlorpromazine, reserpine-pipradrol, deodorized tincture of opium, or a placebo (lactose). An additional group of patients were given no special medication. Observations were made at the end of one-, two-, four-, and eight-week intervals by psychiatrists and psychologists who were uninformed about the treatment given any one patient. Anxiety decreased in both the chlorpromazine and placebo groups over the two-month period. The placebo group, however, also gained better spirits and greater spontaneity. Among the group who received no special medication, anxiety increased. No special benefit from the ataractics could be demonstrated in this study. The evidence indicates the importance of a semblance of medication and care in a geriatric ward.