Thursday, May 8, 2014

Psychiatric Care in the 1930s: The Lobotomy's Origins


Although it had come a long way from the days of simply restraining and locking away the mentally ill, psychiatric care in the 1930s was still very limited. There was essentially no treatment for schizophrenic patients, for example. Psychiatrists attempted to treat their symptoms by prescribing drugs like sedatives, which suppressed the patient's nervous system, and trying a number of different mind-body therapies.

Schizophrenics received hydrotherapy in the form of hot or cold baths for hours at a time. There were also a few different types of shock therapy: insulin, Metrazol and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). All of these therapies induced seizures in patients. Many psychiatrists claimed that these therapies worked by "shocking" patients out of their illness. Others believed that there was a connection between schizophrenia and epilepsy  -- a patient who had the former, even if it was induced, couldn't have the latter.

These treatments didn't generally cure schizophrenics, depressives and others of their mental illness; most were in and out of hospitals or ultimately spent their entire lives inside them. In addition, hospitals in the United States were overcrowded -- by 1940, there were around 1 million patients and the population was growing by 80 percent per year.Conditions were also deteriorating due to a lack of funding during the Depression. Public hospitals were understaffed and patients were often left without any kind of treatment. People embraced the idea of a speedy, simple cure and were hopeful that surgery could provide it.

In 1933, two neurologists at Yale Primate Laboratory, Dr. John Fulton and Dr. Carlyle Jacobson, performed experiments on two monkeys named Becky and Lucy. After testing the monkeys' intelligence, the doctors removed half of their brains' frontal lobes and then retested them. They seemed to retain their skills and intelligence. Fulton and Carlyle then removed the other half of the monkeys' frontal lobes. Becky's and Lucy's personalities changed -- they no longer became violent and frustrated when they didn't immediately get their treats after completing a test. The monkeys could still complete the tests, although not quite as well.

Dr. Moniz saw Fulton present his work at a conference in 1935. He saw similarities between the monkeys' behavior prior to their surgery and the behavior of his mentally ill patients. Moniz concluded that he could perform a slightly different operation on people to separate their emotions and thoughts while retaining their intelligence. He and his colleague Dr. Lima performed numerous experiments on cadavers brains before attempting a lobotomy on a live patient. After perfecting his technique, Moniz claimed success -- his lobotomized patients were serene and no longer anxious.
The following year, Moniz shared his findings in medical journals and at conferences, to a mixed reception. Some psychiatrists were very upset at the idea that a surgery that destroyed healthy brain tissue could cure mental illness. Accepting psychosurgery also meant acknowledging that other forms of therapy, such as the growing field of psychoanalysis, may not work.

Still, many psychiatrists and neurologists were intrigued, Dr. Walter Freeman among them. His championing of the surgery eventually included a traveling "lobotomobile," a customized van in which he demonstrated his technique to the press as well as doctors at mental hospitals. He liked to show off by entering both eye sockets at one time with two different orbitoclasts. Critics likened Freeman to an evangelist for the cause, while supporters claimed that getting a lobotomy was as safe and easy as getting a filling at the dentist. When Howard Dully received the records of the lobotomy performed on him as a child, he discovered that it had cost his parents less than $200. Lobotomies cleared overcrowded hospitals, and unlike other psychiatric care, it promised immediate results.
However, the so-called "lobotomy revolution" lasted less than 20 years.

Source: How Stuff Works

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Who's Who - Osa Johnson

And finally for the Who's Who of Chamber Music we come to Osa Johnson.

I find the fact that Osa 's  story has largely been forgotten by history. Pearl White while I had not heard of by her name, I had heard of 'The Perils of Pauline" But Osa...nothing. I had no clue.


When I was a kid, on Sunday afternoons, there use to be on  channel 13 "Jungle Theater" Lots of Tarzan movies, I was raised by the TV, so I rarely missed one.  If you have a knowledge of  those old films you will remember the insert shots. the stock nature shots, of lions on the savanna, or monkeys in the trees, those were more often than not shot by the Johnsons.

Since she was a videographer, I thought a video was the correct way to go. , I am going to simply put this link here, and let you see her for yourselves. It's a good place to begin.'

Who's Who - Constanze Mozat

Constanze (Weber) came from a family which music was in their genetics  had two older sisters,  and one younger one, all were trained as singers, her older sisters Josepha and Aloysia both went on to distinguished musical careers, performing later on in the premieres of a number of Mozart's works.

Originally Mozart fell in love with  her sister Aloysia, but  she rejected Mozart. 4 years later, while Mozart was staying with the Weber family, it became apparent that he was courting the then 19 year old Constanze.

Surviving correspondence indicates that Mozart and Constanze briefly broke up in April 1782, over an episode involving jealousy (Constanze had permitted another young man to measure her calves in a parlor game

His father thought Constanze was below his brilliant son.

She gave birth 6 times in the 9 years they were married, only two survived childhood.

Constanze was a trained musician and played a role in her husband's career. Two instances can be given:

The extraordinary writing for soprano solo in the Great Mass in C minor (for example, in the "Christe eleison" section of the Kyrie movement, or the aria "Et incarnatus est") was intended for Constanze, who sang in the 1783 premiere of this work in Salzburg.

Mozart wrote in a letter to his sister:
"... When Constanze heard the fugues, she absolutely fell in love with them. Now she will listen to nothing but fugues...Well, as she has often heard me play fugues out of my head, she asked me if I had ever written any down, and when I said I had not, she scolded me roundly for not recording some of my compositions in this most artistically beautiful of all musical forms and never ceased to entreat me until I wrote down a fugue for her."

The experience of writing in Baroque style had an important influence on Mozart's later work, in the C Minor Mass as well as in later secular works, such as the opera The Magic Flute.

 Mozart's died in1791, leaving debts and placing Constanze in a difficult position. A single parent to two boys, it was only then that Constanze's business skills became apparent: she obtained a pension from the Emperor, organized profitable memorial concerts, and embarked on a campaign to publish her husband's works. These efforts eventually made Constanze financially secure, even well-off.

She eventually remarried a Danish diplomat and writer  Georg Nissen who worked with Constanze on a biography of Mozart; which she eventually published it in 1828, two years after her second husband's death.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Who's Who - Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was actually born as Jehanne D'arc  she referred to herself only as “Jehanne la Pucelle” (“Joan the Maid”) and initially testified that she didn’t know her last name.

Joan allegedly first heard the voice of god at age 12. When Joan was 16 she left home in order to answer the call of god who informed her that she was to assist the future king in recapturing French territory form its English invaders.
She was the youngest person in history to have ever commanded the armies of a nation, she was only 17 years old at the time. Yet she never actually fought in any battle. During her battles she was wounded twice, once in the chest with an arrow and once in the thigh after being hit by a crossbow. It is said in several contemporary sources that she predicted both of these injuries prior to their happening.
In modern times she has been diagnosed by various doctors and scholars as suffering from one of numerous neurological and psychiatric condition that trigger hallucinations or delusions, including migraines, bipolar disorder and brain lesions, to name just a few. Yet another theory holds that she contracted bovine tuberculosis, which can cause seizures and dementia, from drinking unpasteurized milk and tending cattle as a young girl.

She Crowned King Charles VII at his coronation ceremony after being told to by the voice of god she allegedly heard.

In 1431 she was put on trial for heresy by her English captures. The English supposedly threatened to torture Joan if she did not deny the voices she had been hearing. She eventually abjured and gave in to the wishes of the judge. But her resumption of male military clothing was labeled a relapse into heresy and the reason for her execution. The reason for the relapse? Men's clothing deterred rape.

On May 30th 1431 Joan  was burned at the stake. She was only 19 years old at the time. 

 In 1920 the Catholic church canonized her and made her into Saint by the same church that burned her at the stake centuries earlier.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who's Who? - Amelia Earhart

At the age of 7, Amelia Earhart and her sister constructed their own roller-coaster using fence rails and roller skates.

After working as nurse and a telephone operator, Amelia became a social worker in Boston where she taught English to immigrant children.

In 1928, only one year after Charles Lindbergh's flight, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make the flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Bill Stultz was flying the plane and Amelia was checking maps and keeping recordings. Since she didn't fly the plane herself, she later said that although it was a "grand experience," that she had felt like "baggage."

On Feb. 7, 1931, Amelia Earhart married George Putnam. In the past Earhart had turned down a proposal from another gentleman, saying that she didn't want to be a "domestic robot."

In 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Three other women had previously died trying.  Acknowledging the dangers of attempting a flight around the world, Amelia Earhart said, "If I should pop off, it will be doing the thing I've always wanted to do."

Awards Won:
U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross;
Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor, from the French Government;
Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society
Harmon Trophy as America's outstanding airwoman in 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1935.
Romania - Award for Aeronautic Merit

On June 1, 1937 Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, began their flight around the world, covering the first leg from Florida to Puerto Rico. The flight took them to South America, Africa, India, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Guinea. Amelia Earhart and Noonan left New Guinea on July 2, 1937, headed for Howland Island, a tiny island in the Pacific only two miles long and one mile wide. They never arrived. Amelia Earhart disappeared in the Pacific on July 3.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Who's Who - Susan B. Anthony

Susan was a very precocious child learning to read and write at the age of three. Susan was then home-schooled because her father was unimpressed with the education level at the local schools.

At seventeen, Anthony went off to a Quaker boarding school, but was forced to return home after only a single term. Her family was financially devastated by the economic downturn known as the "Panic of 1873". To assist her family Susan left home to teach at another Quaker boarding school.

Anthony met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851 and for the next five decades the Anthony and Stanton worked together on suffrage, equal rights, temperance and anti-slavery issues. Stanton was known as the more philosophical of the pair, while Anthony was considered the organizer and rally leader.

Anthony was tireless in her efforts, giving speeches around the country to convince others to support a woman's right to vote.Susan always suffered severe stage fright. Anthony sometimes had to grip the podium hard to restrain herself from shaking. Anthony wrote in 1878: "It always requires a painful effort to face an audience. I have never felt at perfect ease on a platform".

In 1872 she voted in the presidential election illegally. Anthony was arrested and tried unsuccessfully to fight the charges. She ended up being fined $100 – a fine she never paid.

In 1878 Anthony and Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. Popularly known as the Anthony Amendment, it became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920

Who's Who - Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein was born in Pennsylvania, and moved to Paris after failing to complete her medical studies at Johns Hopkins. A circle of writers and artists centered around first Stein and her brother, Leo, and later Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas.

She met her lifelong partner Alice B. Toklas on the first day she arrived in Paris, they were inseperable until her death.

During World War I Stein and Toklas served as volunteers for the American Fund for the French troops. Stein ordered a Ford truck from the United States, learned how to drive, and with Alice delivered supplies to French hospitals. They called the truck, their first vehicle, “Auntie,” named for Stein’s sensible Aunt Pauline, “who always behaved admirably in emergencies.” To show friends their wartime efforts, they sent photographic postcards of themselves with “Auntie.” These were the first photographs documenting the two women at work as a couple. The French government awarded them the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française for their service.

In a conversation with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein said "All of you young people who served in the are all a lost generation". The phrase depicted a generation, characterized by doomed youth, hedonism and creativity, that had been severely wounded by their experiences and horrors of the war.

After meeting Pablo Picasso in Paris, Stein became fascinated by Cubism,
which concentrated on the illumination of the moment. Stein tried to translate Cubism's abstraction and disruption of perspective into a prose form and present an object or an experience from every angle simultaneously. The effect was reinforced by minimal use of punctuation and sentences that seemed to have no end.

Stein’s lived out the second World War in southeastern France against the advisment of many. She was Jewish, American, homosexual, and a radically modern artist, making her a highly potential target of Nazi persecution. German soldiers billeted with the women on two different occasions. Stein explained her survival as a simple matter: the Germans never recognized Stein as a famous American writer.