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May 8, 1967

The Current Status of Phenothiazines

Author Affiliations

From the Houston State Psychiatric Institute and Baylor University College of Medicine, Houston.

JAMA. 1967;200(6):461-464. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120190087016

Phenothiazines assumed the rank of major chemotherapeutic agents 14 years ago. Throughout these years they have remained the object of controversy concerning their effectiveness, mode of action, toxicity, and method of use. This is perhaps because they have a spectrum of pharmacological activity and a formidable array of side effects unrivaled by any other class of compounds. The introduction of a factor of this complexity into the arena of mental illness, noted for its preponderance of hypothetical beliefs over scientific fact, was bound to produce controversy. Further, it happened at a time when the public conscience was recognizing its shortcomings in regard to the mentally ill. This has made it difficult to know how much of the change in the status of the mentally ill is due to pharmacotherapy and how much to other factors.

The issue is further compounded by the propensity of the phenothiazines to give rise to