Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

PHARMACOLOGICAL SHOCK THERAPY AS A PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL PROBLEM

GEORGE W. KISKER AND GEORGE W. KNOX

Columbus State Hospital and the Department of Psychology of Ohio State University

The impetus given to pharmacological shock therapy by Sakel (31) in 1933, ushered in a new era in psychosomatic and psychobiological research. Foremost among the problems which have presented themselves, and which may be legitimately studied by the psychologist are objective criteria by which the results of shock treatment might be judged, and those having to do with the nature of the changes which take place at a psychological level.

The question of personality organization and the possibility of that organization being temporarily or permanently modified as a result of pharmacological intrusion, is one which warrants careful consideration. It is well known that physical agencies can, under certain conditions, in themselves alter personality structure. The entire range of "organic" personalities falls into this category. The paretic, the encephalitic, the cererbral arteriosclerotic, and the post-traumatic individual exhibits a characteristic personality pattern because of the underlying physical modifications of the brain field. Such modifications isomorphically produce phenomenological changes which give the identifying tone to the personality picture. Personalities of this type, however, are highly crystallized and permit a minimum of adaptability. A channelization has taken place which cannot be influenced, to any great extent, either by the individual or by other individuals. Is a similar mechanism at work in the case of insulin and metrazol shock

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