Old Therapy Treatments Inspired by Your Nightmares


In a time where hypnosis and cutting people open were viable options for psychotherapy, it's an understatement to say that we've come a long way. But in case you wanted to never sleep again, here are a couple psychiatric techniques that are sure to disturb you.


Ah, yes. The infamous act of drilling a hole into the skull of a patient in order to have a lil' looksie inside. Performed using a sharp instrument (picture a scalpel with a wire loop at the end), doctors would make an incision in the patient's head to see if they could treat them of their craziness.

At the turn of the 20th century, many psychiatrists began experimenting with more invasive techniques of psychotherapy, including the use of heavy drugs, electric shock therapy, and the most popular for treating depression: psychosurgery. The pioneering doctor was António Egas Moniz, who ended up winning a Nobel Prize for his lobotomy work.

But the general public started to question Moniz' procedure due to the after effects often being much worse than the initial problem. Lobotomized patients were frequently left with irreversible changes to their personality, which were sometimes described as zombie-like. And after poor documentation of his work and insufficient patient follow-up, Moniz started to be heavily criticized on his credibility. Unfortunately, lobotomies had already become a popularized psychotherapy treatment, with more than 5,000 of them taking place in the United States alone before anti-psychotic drugs became mainstay in the 1960s. Yikes!


Deep Sleep Therapy

Popularized in the 1920s by Swiss psychiatrist Jakob Klasesi, deep sleep therapy was designed to treat schizophrenia, depression, obesity, and addiction. Administering a mixture of barbiturates, which are designed to be central nervous system depressants, you'd be put into a prolonged sleep. Then, while patients were deep in their slumber, the psychiatrist would administer Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) so that when you awoke, your bad habits would be cured.

Famously in Australia, when this procedure was widely practiced between the 1960s and 70s, more than 85 patients' deaths were linked to this bizarre method of treatment. The person linked to them is psychiatrist Harry Bailey, who unfortunately, committed suicide while under investigation for his crimes.

If you're interested in learning more about the horrors of psychiatry and what modern-day therapy is really like, check out our latest podcast episode.


Mitch Moffit