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NLM Announces Two New Resources for the Study of Mental Health History!

The National Library of Medicine has released two new resources for the study of mental health history: the papers of Louis Sokoloff (b. 1921), a noted neurochemical researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and an updated online Guide to Mental Health Motion Pictures. From 1957 until his retirement more than 40 years later, Dr. Sokoloff served as Chief of Cerebral Metabolism at the NIMH. In 1981 he won the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Research for developing methods of measuring metabolic activity that led to development of positron-emission tomography for the brain. The Sokoloff collection comprises materials from 1953 to 2004. In addition to laboratory notebooks and drafts of articles, the collection is particularly noteworthy for the radiographs that Dr. Sokoloff used as part of the development of his imaging techniques. A finding aid to the Sokoloff collection is available.

NLM’s updated, online Guide to Mental Health Motion Pictures provides information covering over 200 films and video recordings produced from the 1930s through 1970, including links from each title to NLM’s catalog record. The films show the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders as defined at the time they were made. The productions range from ideological, documentary, educational, and training films to military-produced titles explaining the psychological impact of war. The therapies shown range widely, from insulin-shock and electroconvulsive therapies and surgical approaches such as lobotomy, to the mid-twentieth-century revolution in pharmaceutical intervention. The films also document the therapeutic shift towards community-based mental health. The Guide joins previous NLM subject guides to films, notably the Guide to Tropical Disease Motion Pictures and Audiovisuals (2009), and the National Library of Medicine’s Motion Pictures and Videocassettes about the Public Health Service and Its Agencies (1998). NLM’s audiovisual collection includes over 30,000 titles and is the foremost medical film archive in the world.

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