Director: Dennis K. SmithTroubled Minds: The Lithium Revolution Australia
In a backyard shed in the 1940s, a Melbourne doctor discovered an astonishing psychiatric treatment that would change the way we think about mental illness and neuroscience. It would mark the beginning of psychopharmacology'The use of drugs to manage psychiatric conditions.
A psychiatrist and ex-prisoner of war, Dr John Cade was convinced by his wartime experiences that nutrition and body chemistry were determining factors in mental health. At a time when electric shock treatments, lobotomies and Freudian psychotherapy were the dominant approaches, he went looking for chemical alternatives, and after a series of unorthodox (if not bizarre) experiments, he honed in on a simple salt'lithium.
It would take 20 years of struggle before lithium treatment was finally accepted, but Cade and his fellow believers persevered. Their work meant a chance at stability for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and lithium remains the benchmark for bipolar treatments today.
The latest film from Dennis K. Smith (Rainbow Bird and Monster Man, MIFF 2002) is a sensitively crafted documentary, which skilfully blends dramatic recreation and interviews with Cade's children, medical professionals and historians. Troubled Minds: The Lithium Revolution is an illuminating work.
Dennis K. Smith and John Lewis are guests of the Festival.
D/S Dennis K. Smith P John Lewis WS Film Australia TD Video/Col/2004/52mins
Dennis K. Smith's films include: Rainbow Bird and Monster Man (MIFF 2002).