history of psychiatry. therapeutic zeal.

mickey nardo at one bor­ing old man: on his­tory

…What I took from that read­ing had to do with a topic well known to any prac­tic­ing physi­cian – Ther­a­peu­tic Zeal. It’s the dan­ger behind the Hip­po­cratic Oath’s injunc­tion to “Do No Harm.” These rad­i­cal treat­ments were intro­duced for the dev­as­tat­ing, often fatal ill­nesses only seen behind the walls of Asy­lums and State Hos­pi­tals. But with some suc­cesses, they were increas­ingly applied in patients with less debil­i­tat­ing ill­ness or diag­noses. That’s what Ther­a­peu­tic Zeal means, becom­ing too invested in treat­ing and over­look­ing the dan­gers. In the case of lobot­omy, Rose­mary Kennedy, the younger sis­ter of JFK, was a prime exam­ple. As best I can tell, her diag­no­sis was mod­er­ate men­tal retar­da­tion. In her early twen­ties, she was treated with lobot­omy for behav­ioral prob­lems. The con­se­quences of the treat­ment became an addi­tional life­long dis­abil­ity, last­ing until her death at age eighty-​six – a tragedy.