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November 12, 1982

Biological Treatments in Psychiatry

JAMA. 1982;248(18):2346-2347. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180092051

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The most striking element of this latest revision of a textbook of biologic therapies in psychiatry by Lother Kalinowsky and two German coauthors is the inclusion of sections devoted to a wide assortment of either outmoded, scientifically untested, or known ineffective pharmacologic and somatic treatments. No other current text published in the United States in this area contains discussions of such interventions as carbon dioxide inhalation, refrigeration, acupuncture, malaria therapy, and hemodialysis.

The authors justify this approach to the subject by the arguable contention that all of the treatments discussed have contributed to our knowledge of biological psychiatry. Sophisticated readers, however, might suspect an alternative and more compelling motivation deriving from a certain European empirical tradition in organic psychiatry. Applications of a wide variation of chemical and physical interventions to human mental disorders, while not always stemming from a rational theoretical framework, indeed have produced a number of our most