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Insulin shock therapy records book, Europe, 1946-1948

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Insulin is usually thought of as a medicine treating diabetes. However, in the 1940s it was a shock therapy for patients with severe mental health illnesses. It was known as ‘coma therapy’ because patients tended to enter comas for up to an hour. It was a reversible treatment that allowed doctors to observe a patient’s responses and adapt the dosage of insulin accordingly. Its use overlapped with early electric shock therapy. Both treatments aimed to ‘re-stabilise’ the brain after treatment. This book records insulin treatment given to male patients from 1946-1948 at an unspecified institution. It records the time, date and responses of the patient. These ranged from mild perspiration to fits and comas.

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Glossary: insulin

A hormone that causes the body's cells to take up glucose from the blood. (Diabetes is the loss of control of the body's levels of insulin.)

Glossary: psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospital specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, usually for relatively long-term patients.

Glossary: register

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