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    Faradization: treatment of post traumatic stress

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    Robert Maurer

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    The history of Psychology and Psychiatry
    it contains some obscure chapters which are not known even by many of the specialists
    of the sector. It all depends on the fact that in the early days, researchers in
    this scientific field groped in full darkness. For this
    reason it is not strange that many unusual treatments developed;
    some quite funny, like prescribing orgasms to treat hysteria,
    and others more macabre, such as electroshock to cure homosexuality:

    Recently the journal Neurology unveiled an ancient treatment used during the
    World War I for the treatment of soldiers suffering from a
    trauma caused by fighting (now called post traumatic stress but that
    then it was called "war neurosis"). As you can imagine, at that time the “neurosis
    warfare ”turned into a serious problem, since most of the
    troops were decimated due to soldiers displaying symptoms of
    psychological trauma that expressed itself through extreme anxiety, something that
    at the time it was known as "battle fatigue" (today called reaction from
    combat stress and manifested in decreased efficiency
    in combat, since the soldier has very slow reaction times,
    indecision, disconnection from reality and the impossibility of establishing any
    priority). Obviously, these symptoms could prove fatal in the field of
    battle. It all depends on the fact that the existence was not known at the time
    of post-traumatic stress, so that many specialists linked these
    symptoms with hysteria, when they did not come to think that the soldiers were
    pretending because they were afraid of going back to fight. At that point, the psychiatrists got to work
    devising the most diverse treatments. For example, at that time the famous
    English psychiatrist WHRRivers, became the pioneer in the treatment of
    combat stress reaction and a central figure in the birth of the
    psychotraumatology. Rivers adapted the techniques of psychoanalysis and applied them
    alo post traumatic stress obtaining quite positive results. However, not all psychiatrists opted for
    these traditional methods and some chose less orthodox paths. Such
    it is the case of the neurologists Clovis Vincent and Gustave Roussy, who were
    in charge of dealing with traumatized French troops. Their treatment
    had only one goal, to get the soldiers back to the front, and for
    to achieve this they applied current discharges to the same until
    they did not agree to return to fight. Officially this cruel method was called "faradization"(In honor of the physicist
    English Faraday and why induction current was used). However, i
    soldiers who were subjected to this method renamed it with the word
    French “torpillage” (from the French torpille-bullet). At the beginning, faradization was used by attempting
    to cause as little pain as possible, since it was essentially one
    terror strategy. That is, the soldiers subjected to it had to report
    to their companions what they had experienced, in order to avoid hysteria
    collective and prevent everyone from leaving the battlefield. But nevertheless
    this, it is stated that in the most resistant cases the electric charge was increased e
    the electrodes were positioned in much more sensitive areas of the human body,
    like the soles of the feet and the scrotum. In fact, the same psychiatrists
    they report that in some cases even extra measures had to be used
    such as isolation or a milk-only diet. Of course, with the passage of time the officers do
    realized the cruelty of this method and, with the help of a very bad one
    advertising in the press, faradization was stopped, remembering today
    like a dark chapter in the history of trauma therapy.
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