Bernard Carroll's Comments

Gregory de Moore and Ann Westmore:  Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder. Reviewed by Barry Blackwell


             First, I should congratulate Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore for their book, which they kindly sent to me at Brian Davies’ suggestion. I read it quickly a little more than six months ago and I have been remiss in not giving you feedback. It is a ripping good read and I especially appreciated reading your sections about Cade in Changi. I had direct contact with John Cade as a medical student (we attended his Saturday morning case presentations at Royal Park hospital). John’s son David also was in our medical class, and we sometimes went to the Cade residence on the grounds of the hospital for refreshments. One vivid memory is the basket hung over the back gate of the Superintendent’s yard, which was filled regularly by the patients with vegetables from the hospital garden. Later, I saw John Cade on and off while I was doing my psychiatric training and he examined me on my major clinical case for the DPM (Diploma of Psychological Medicine) in 1969. Very kindly, I should add.

          Barry Blackwell has recently commented (on INHN) about Johan Schioldann’s book that appeared in 2009, especially concerning whether Cade was up to speed on early therapeutic trials of lithium in psychiatry, such as those by the Langes. My impression, for what it's worth, always was that Cade stumbled on lithium without the benefit of any of that information. Should he have known about it? I would give him a pass in recognition of the distractions of WWII and the concentration camp. Those distractions occurred at around the time he might have done some deep historical research. Then, after the war, he was a man in a hurry to make up for lost time.

          On the question whether Cade banned the use of lithium in Royal Park hospital, I was surprised to read of that. Certainly through the 1960s lithium was freely used in The Royal Melbourne Hospital where I trained. I don’t recall ever hearing Cade suggest that the clinical use of lithium should be restricted. Of course, by then the measurement of plasma lithium levels had become routine, thanks to Noack, Trautner, and Sam Gershon.

November 2, 2017