Main content

The first anti-psychotic drug

How the 1950s drug Chlorpomazine helped revolutionise the treatment of mental illness

In the first half of the 20th century, most mentally ill patients were locked away in psychiatric hospitals and asylums. Those suffering from severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, were often sedated or restrained. Shock therapies were standard treatments. Then in France in the 1950s, a new drug was discovered which dramatically reduced psychotic symptoms in many patients. It was called Chlorpromazine. Soon it was being used around the world. Alex Last has been speaking to the psychiatrist Dr Thomas Ban, emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, who witnessed the introduction of Chlorpromazine first-hand in the 1950s.

Photo:Nurses prepare a patient for electric shock treatment in a psychiatric hospital. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images)

Available now

9 minutes

Last on

Wed 12 Jun 2019 03:50GMT

Broadcasts

The World War Two collection

The World War Two collection

Looking back at almost six years of global conflict, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust

The Witness History podcast

The Witness History podcast

Every programme, to download and keep

The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution

From the Bolshevik takeover of 1917 to the break-up of the Soviet Union

When animals made history

When animals made history

Events from history when animals took centre stage

Great moments in Olympic history

Great moments in Olympic history

Stories of endurance, world records and remarkable athletes

African history collection

African history collection

The communities, politics, leaders and events that have shaped Africa

Podcast