When this book was originally published in 1979, mental illness was a closed book to the general public. It is not surprising that in the climate of widespread ignorance, mental illness was a taboo subject. It was rarely mentioned in the media, useful information and professional help was hard to find and so it was not a topic for open discussion.
It is fascinating to keep this perspective in mind when reading this book. Dr J. F. J. Cade gives a lucid account of the false theories and beliefs, mistaken practices, the many discoveries and the advances in the field of mental illness up to that time. He presents an account of the first specific psychiatric treatment for bipolar disorder (at that time called manic depression), namely lithium salts but he refrains from mentioning that he made this momentous discovery himself.
There has been much progress in the 36 years since then. These days we are all aware of the frequency and significance of mental illnesses which have at last, well and truly, come out into the open.
Following is an extract from John Cade’s book, Mending the Mind: a short history of Twentieth Century Psychiatry.
“Depressive illness is the most painful illness known to man, equalling or exceeding even the most exquisite physical agony. The patient is inconsolably despairing, often guilt-ridden – having committed, they imagined, the unforgivable sin – completely immersed in the internal world of misery and utter loneliness. There is no pleasure in living, no energy or interest in doing anything except agitatedly bewail or silently brood upon an unhappy fate; no hope for the future abandoned by God and man. Suicide seems the only escape from the misery.”
To learn more about this dedicated doctor join us at the City of Canada Bay Museum on Saturday, 7th September at 1:30 for 2:00 pm start, when our guest speaker, Alasdair McGregor will tell us more about Dr. John Cade.