Gordon Johnson's comment

Gordon Johnson’s comment on Barry Blackwell’s reply to Sam Gershon’s comment

Blackwell expresses surprise that Cade omitted to mention the fact reported by Gershon that Cade had banned the use of lithium in his hospital in his presentation at the symposium on Discoveries in Biological Psychiatry and speculates that he showed selective forgetting or cryptomnesia. The convenors Blackwell and Ayd of this remarkable and historic meeting wished to honor the original discoveries in psychopharmacology and the scientists who made them. I was at that meeting and have the published book of the presentations. 

In his presentation of the story of lithium, Cade describes in detail the laboratory and animal experiments which led to the unexpected observation of the effects of lithium and the initial clinical trial. He says, "it may seem a long way from lethargy in guinea pigs to the control of manic excitement but as these investigations had commenced to demonstrate some possibly excreted toxin in the urine of manic patients, the association of ideas is explicable”. An example of chance favouring the prepared mind?

Sticking to the theme of discovery, he finished by mentioning research interest in the potential psychotropic effects of other alkali metals rubidium and caesium and other cations such as strontium.

It is drawing a long bow to invoke cryptomnesia as the reason Cade omitted to discuss subsequent clinical use of lithium. A simpler reason is that he was sticking to his brief of discovery which should have pleased the convenors.


Gordon Johnson

March 19, 2015