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Untangling the Mind: The Legacy of Dr. Heinz Lehmann


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Subjects: Biographies, Biology, History, Human Rights, Medicine, Mental Health Issues, Psychology, Science

Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Green Lion Productions
Closed Captioned:
Running Time: 54 mins
Country of Origin: Canada
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 1999
Available in French: No

When Montreal psychiatrist, Dr. Heinz Lehmann launched his medical career in the 1930s, psychiatric hospitals were, in Lehmann's own words, "Snake Pits." Naked inmates lay in their own excrement. Screams and cries emanated from locked isolation wards. Orderlies wrestled violent patients into straightjackets. Lehmann refused to accept these conditions. "Untangling the Mind: The Legacy of Dr. Heinz Lehmann" tells the poignant story of the man who transformed North American asylums into the therapeutic environments they are today. But Lehmann's greatest legacy came with a single pill - Largactil - the first anti-psychotic drug used in North America. By successfully treating patients with this drug, Lehmann introduced the world to the idea that biology plays a role in mental illness. This program is an extraordinary historical record. Archival footage of doctors performing electric shock therapy and lobotomies demonstrate how far psychiatric medicine has come. Harrowing cinéma vérité stories of patients in today's budget-strapped hospitals show how far psychiatry still has to go. It concludes by looking at the next stage of psychiatric medicine. Which therapies will prove most successful in the next century? What role will genetic research play? Most importantly, will scientists discover a cure for mental illness in the new millennium?