The first antipsychotic medication and the field of psychopharmacology emerged after a 60-year effort to find an effective treatment for schizophrenia. In 1899, it was hypothesized that dementia praecoxas (now known as schizophrenia) was hereditary and probably due to chemical disturbances that damaged cortical cells. In 1915, it was further theorized that dementia praecoxas was caused by organic changes. This view was not shared by psychiatrists in North America until the 1950s, with the introduction of clinically effective pharmacology. Up until then, there had been a number of approaches to treat schizophrenia. Nearly all methods were random, since the physiopathology of the disease was completely unknown.

Some treatment methods that were tried included the prescription of cocaine, manganese, or castor oil. Another treatment used injections of ...

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