Thursday, January 12, 2023

the last book I ever read (Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Family, excerpt one)

from Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Family by Patrick Radden Keefe:

Arthur had a relentlessly analytical mind, and as he evaluated this dilemma, he concluded that the practical problem was that mental disorders appeared to be growing at a faster rate than the ability of the authorities to build asylums. A stroll through the overcrowded wards of Creedmoor would tell you that. What Arthur wanted to do was come up with a solution. Something that worked. The challenge, when it came to mental illness, was efficacy: perform a surgery, and you’ll generally be able to judge, before too long, whether the procedure was a success. But tinkering with the brain was more difficult to measure. And the fact that it was hard to evaluate results in this manner had led to some truly outlandish experiments. Just a few decades earlier, the superintendent of a state hospital in New Jersey had become convinced that the way to cure insanity was to remove a patient’s teeth. When some of his patients did not appear to respond to this course of treatment, the superintendent kept going, removing tonsils, colons, gallbladders, appendixes, fallopian tubes, uteruses, ovaries, cervixes. In the end, he cured no patients with these experiments, but he did kill more than a hundred of them.

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