Deep-Sleep Therapy and Barbiturates

   (See also Barbiturates.)
   In 1920, Zurich-Burghölzli psychiatrist Jakob Klaesi (1883–1980) began using a combination of two of Roche’s barbiturates for deep-sleep therapy. The idea of putting patients into a therapeutic stupor was not original with Klaesi and had been previously attempted with other barbiturates and with bromine. But Klaesi’s sleep therapy with the combination product Somnifen, which he described in 1922 in the Journal of Combined Neurology and Psychiatry (Zeitschrift für die gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie), became widely known, and barbiturate sleep-therapy represented an occasionally used remedy for psychotic illness in the 1930s and 1940s. Deep-sleep therapy joined insulin coma therapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and chemical convulsive therapy (see CONVULSIVE THERAPY: CHEMICAL) as one of the innovative "physical," or somatic, therapies. It ceased to be used after the introduction of chlorpromazine and other antipsychotic drugs in the early 1950s.

Edward Shorter. 2014.

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