Mental Health in the 1970s

Mental health treatment in the 1970s was quite different from how it is practiced today. The primary treatment for mental health conditions was institutionalisation, where people with mental health disorders were placed in psychiatric hospitals. The treatments that were predominantly practised at the time were often harsh and ineffective,  and focused primarily on controlling certain symptoms instead of addressing the underlying causes of mental health conditions.

Some common treatments used in the 1970s included:

  1. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT):  This was a widely used treatment for severe mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and depression. ECT involves administering electric shocks towards the brain to induce seizures,  with the goal of altering brain chemistry and improving symptoms. However,  it is still used and some patients find ECT beneficial today.
  2. Insulin shock therapy:  This was another widely used treatment, especially for patients with schizophrenia. It involved administering large doses of insulin to cause the patient to go into a coma, with the belief that this technique would “reset” the brain.
  3. Lobotomies:  This  was  a  surgical  procedure  that  involved cutting or damaging the connections between the front part of the brain  and the rest of the brain. It was used for many conditions yet was mainly employed in severe cases.
  4. Restrain:  It was common practice in psychiatric hospitals and asylums,  where patients were physically restrained to prevent them from harming themselves  or others.

In the 1970s. Society embarked on deinstitutionalisation efforts. This approach encompassed shutting down psychiatric hospitals and emphasising community-based interventions aimed at aiding individuals with mental health struggles. The transformation gave birth to novel forms of therapy like psychotherapy and medication management.

While such measures were commonly deployed during that period, it is crucial to highlight that recent research claims them to as inhumane and not evidenced based. In recent times. We concentrate on adopting approaches founded explicitly on scientific research findings that tackle establishing origins of different mental illnesses while optimising general wellness levels.

Psychotherapy had quite a distinct face in the seventies compared to today’s approach among excellent London therapists. While several psychotherapies intrigued researchers then, a few stood out as being more widespread and popular amongst practitioners worth mention here:

Psychoanalysis:  One such example- relied heavily on Sigmund Freud’s theories while prioritising unconscious thoughts, inner conflicts and emotions implicated in behaviours and mental health issues. It involved longer treatment sessions held multiple times per week that could stretch for years when necessary.

Behaviour therapy: This therapy marketed itself as a method focusing on behaviour change based on the principles of classical conditioning and operant learning. It remains popular nowadays for managing phobias, anxiety disorders or depression.

Humanistic therapy:  This form of psychotherapy, developed by Carl Rogers, emphasized the importance of the individual’s subjective experience,  self-actualisation and self-exploration. The therapist’s role was to help the patient understand themselves better in order to enable a clearer path towards self-actualisation.

Family therapy:  Family therapy was also widely used during the 1970s,  and it .focused on treating individuals within the context of their family and relationships.  This type of therapy was often used to address difficulties that can arise within family dynamics.

While many of the treatments used in the 1970s  were based on theoretical models and lacked a solid scientific foundation,  they represented the beginning  of a more holistic and humanistic approach towards  mental health treatment.