The remarkable untold story of a miracle drug, the forgotten pioneer who discovered it and the fight to bring lithium to the masses.
From insulin comas and lobotomy to incarceration; those who suffered bipolar disorder endured dangerous, ineffective treatments for centuries until a breakthrough in the 1950s offered salvation. Lithium’s efficacy at both ending and preventing manic depressive episodes was discovered by John Cade, whose years running a psychiatric ward as a prisoner of war sparked a hunch that put him on the path to revelation. The miraculous metal has since salvaged an untold number of lives but even after its healing power was discovered, it was decades before the medical community could be convinced that lithium was not only safe but life-saving. Walter A. Brown reveals how close we came to missing out on this extraordinary drug and showcasing the possibilities of scientific curiosity.
Walter A. Brown has been a practicing psychiatrist and professor at Brown University for more than forty years. He has contributed to publications such as Scientific American, Scientific American Mind, and Psychology Today. He lives in Tiverton, Rhode Island.