When one thinks of audio-visual recordings of psychiatric patients in the United States in the 1960s, the distressing images of Frederick Wiseman’s observational documentary Titicut Follies (1967) may come to mind. The Depressive Neurosis series from 1969 bears no resemblance to these films. Instead, the series offers a rare glimpse into the day-to-day world of late 1960s psychiatric practice, in which people with addiction, mental illness, or mental disabilities seek help and are received with an open mind and treated with dignity by the doctors they speak to and the camera crew that films them.
Leprosy in India [Lepra in India in the original German] is a hard film to watch. In the course of its 12 minutes, it puts before the camera patients who suffer from a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild discoloration of the skin to terrible facial and bodily disfigurement, and loss of fingers and toes.
By Tatjana Buklijas, Birgit Nemec, and Katrin Pilz
Sometime in the last century a fragment of silent film landed at the National Library of Medicine. Like many of the older films in the collection, how it got there is a mystery: no paperwork survives to tell the tale; no other prints of the film appear to have survived; no other sources on its making or showing have turned up.
Among the many old motion pictures shelved in the collection of the National Library of Medicine is a uniquely strange two-reel 16 millimeter film, with an ungainly title: Neural and Humoral Factors in the Regulation of Bodily Functions (Research on Conjoined Twins).
Schizophrenia was a new diagnosis in interwar American medicine. Invented in 1911 by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939), the term gradually supplanted “dementia praecox,” which after World War I was associated too closely with German psychiatry.