Ugo Cerletti, a neurologist at the Neuropsychiatric Clinic in Genoa, believed that metrazol
's side effects (including severe vomiting and confusion) were unacceptable despite its efficacy.
They knew I had been a psychiatrist and they knew that they could count on my experience of the special effects of metrazol
or insulin on others to add to the normal dread of the `treatment'.
By ignoring patients' own accounts and perspectives of their treatments, by neglecting the life that patients lead outside the institution and after treatment, and by excluding crucial data that they had themselves gathered, investigators and clinicians throughout this century declared one brain-disabling treatment after another a "major therapeutic breakthrough." Insulin coma, metrazol
coma, electroconvulsive therapy, as well as frontal lobotomy were each promoted in their time as major "innovations." Of note, their perceived effectiveness was not established by demonstrating that patients got well, but by flooding psychiatric journals, professional conferences, and the popular press with carefully crafted reports.
Von Meduna changed to a soluble synthetic camphor preparation, Metrazol
(pentylenetetrazol), which was injected intravenously.
My personal recollections go back to 1939 shortly after the introduction of Metrazol
when, as a medical student, I was allowed to inject Metrazol
into chronically ill patients at Worcester State Hospital-against their terrified and frightened resistance, which, I might add, was overpowered by several burly attendants.