The Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 72-92

First online:

Observations on organic brain damage and clinical improvement following protracted insulin coma

  • Eugene RevitchAffiliated withVeterans Administration Hospital

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A study of eight cases of chronic schizophrenics who developed protracted coma during insulin shock therapy is reported. Five of the eight patients showed a marked improvement after protracted coma, and three remained unimproved. The improvement consisted of loss of tension and hostility. Patients became friendly, affable, relaxed and interested in the environment. In spite of the return of delusional systems, the improved patients were able to function on a higher level than previously. In four of the five improved patients, improvement was preceded by severe organic brain deficit of varied duration. The organic deficit was demonstration through clinical observation, a battery of psychological tests and electro-encephalograms. Improvement is attributed to the organic brain damage which results in disruption of associative pathways not unlike the disruption in lobotomy.