This paper explores the use of technological interventions for the sedation, restraint and restoration of mental health patients, over the last 100 years. Manual technologies and processes created in the early part of the 1900s in the hope of full patient recovery from chronic suffering, self-harm, and suicidal ideations are presented. The birth of operative techniques like leucotomies is then presented, as are their known effects on the patient population from the 1930s-1950s. The role and impact of pharmaceutical drugs is then described as the de-institutionalisation process of patients in hospitals took place. Electronically-based therapies discovered from the late 1960s and more widely instituted from the 1980s onward, are then presented in light of past practices and current clinical trials. The paper will address the impact of electro-convulsive therapies, and various pacemaker technologies for the brain. There are two fundamental questions that will be asked with respect to modern neuroprosthetics: (1) is it right to experiment on human beings when purportedly less than a third of patients are shown to go into remission as a result of technologically-oriented therapy; and (2) have we really progressed in the art of treating mental health as much as is stated.
Citation: Katina Michael, July 7, 2019, “Technological Interventions for Mental Illness: Last 100 Years”, Australasian Philosophy Conference (AAP), https://aap.org.au/conference2019