Clinical Studies from the Children’s Unit, Creedmoor State Hospital, mid-1960s

Clinical Studies from the Children’s Unit, Creedmoor State Hospital, Box 2, Folder 7. Courtesy of the Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections, The Papers of Dr. Lauretta Bender.

Creedmoor was founded in the early twentieth century. Once the home of thousands of mental patients, its census began to decline in the 1960s because of deinstitutionalization. It remains open today, but many of its buildings have been abandoned.

Psychiatrist Lauretta Bender was appointed Director of Research in the new children’s unit at Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens in 1956. This document summarizes several clinical research studies that were conducted on that unit during Bender’s eight-year tenure there. Several of them continued after her retirement in 1964. They illustrate that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychoactive drugs (including LSD) were regularly administered to institutionalized children—a fact that may shock people today. They also illustrate that physiological and psychopharmacological treatments were not unusual choices for severely disturbed and autistic children in the late 1950s and 1960s. Even during the period when psychogenesis held sway, physicians like Bender believed that physiological methods and medications would spur normal growth and enhance children’s health.






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