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At the school reunion in Girls, one former classmate recounted having seen Effie:

Last summer, Marinka says, by accident, on the street, "I didn't recognize her." She says that you, Effie, now weigh about 190 pounds, huge, a barrel, because they gave you insulin when you needed lithium - "But lithium also adds weight," one of the boys, now a chemical engineer, says...

Was Effie given insulin shock therapy? If so, when was this story likely placed, and why did she receive that? This particular treatment, which was largely used for schizophrenia, fell out of favor in the 1960s (probably due to the introduction of better psychiatric medications like lithium, antipsychotics, and antidepressants).

I recall reading (I don't recall where) that Soviet psychiatrists tended to be pretty far behind the times, evidently only being aware of behavior modification and antipsychotics as a treatment method even when numerous other methods were available. If I'm correct in my memory, would this have played a role?

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  • In USSR (and even Russia) the Insulin therapy remained in use for much longer. Russian Wiki quotes certain A.I.Nelson who kept pushing it as late as 2004. Again, according to the same page, it was broadly and actively used in 1989. Jul 6 at 23:38
  • @Рябчиков-Жуй That could probably be an answer. Jul 7 at 0:11

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Disclaimer: I haven't read the story.

Timewise, in USSR (and even Russia) the insulin therapy remained in use for much longer. Russian Wiki quotes certain A.I.Nelson who kept pushing it as late as 2004. Again, according to the same page, it was broadly and actively used in 1989.

That said, lithium and insulin in one sentence definitely indicate a treatment of a mental disorder. However, lithium is used to treat a bipolar manic stage, while insulin was used against schizophrenia. That hints that Effie was misdiagnosed.

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