For most of human history, mental illness has been largely untreatable. Sufferers lived their lives - if they survived - in and out of asylums, accumulating life's wreckage around them. In 1948, all that changed when an Australian doctor and recently returned prisoner of war, working alone in a disused kitchen, set about an experimental treatment for one of the scourges of mankind - manic depression, or bipolar disorder. That doctor was John Cade and in that small kitchen he stirred up a miracle. John Cade discovered a treatment that has become the gold standard for bipolar disorder - lithium. It has stopped more people from committing suicide than 1000 help lines. Lithium is the penicillin story of mental health - the first effective medication discovered for the treatment of a mental illness - and it is, without doubt, Australia's greatest mental health story.
©2016 Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore (P)2017 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 28-03-17


This is the story of John Cade, M.D. (1912 – 1980) an Australian physician who in 1948 discovered the treatment for manic-depression, now called bipolar disorder. The authors tell Cade’s story from being a prisoner of war during WWII. Cade was a Major in the Australian Army Medical Corp and was captured at the fall of Singapore. He was in Changi Prison from February 1942 to September 1945. After the war, Cade took a position at the Bundooroe Repatriation Mental Hospital in Melbourne. It was there he began his research for a treatment and discovered that the mineral Lithium Carbonate could act as a mood stabilizer.

The book is well written and researched. It is written in an easy to read style. The book is almost eleven hours long. The authors provided descriptions of life in the late 1940s and 1950s in Australia as well as what it was like for Cade’s wife and children living on the grounds of a mental hospital. This book came about from information in Ann Westmore’s Ph.D. thesis on the history of mental health in Australia.

The book is about eleven hours long. Paul English does a good job narrating the book. English is an actor and audiobook narrator.

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