The news Tuesday morning was of another mass killing – in Japan – different in that the murderer wished to 'cleanse' Japan of handicapped people.

Quixotically, on my desk is the manuscript of a book I wrote in the 1970's on manic depression. More than a generation ago. Technology has galloped on in treatment, and most dramatic that we can share our worries through this medium. At the same time the population is aging and depression on the increase, whilst funds and personnel to 'care' decline.

I looked back at treatment through the ages. Herbal and other concoctions have been used right through history, many of our modern drugs still have a botanical derivative.

For many centuries any malady of the mind was thought due to pressure from within the body. Purgatives were often advised, and blood-letting a favourite, the leech (ugh) being used a lot.

In the Dark Ages any form of mental aberration was looked at as possession by devils, and these were cast out by exorcism, or at worst burning at the stake. Women sufferers were believed to be witches, and the practice of putting a stake through the heart when buried to stop them rising up to continue their witchcraft was popular.

In the late 17th century there was an idea that draining off some of the blood from someone mentally ill and substituting that with the equivalent from a healthy young man would do the trick.

In the 18th century it was shock tactics, flinging people into cold water, firing cannons, and confronting them with a facsimile of their own hallucinations.

Occupational therapy started in the Bicetre hospital in France. Psychiatry is pretty new, the other extreme being ECT and its like – still awful memories of the film One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest.

Among Moodscopers who have suffered long-term and recurrent depression, I'll use the question which was the subject of a previous blog of mine. 'From whence cometh your help?'

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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