John Cade, Lithium and the Taming of BipolarGreg de Moore
2 February 2017
Published by Allen & Unwin
In 1948, there was no medication for bipolar illness. Sufferers from the illness would live their lives – if they survived – in and out of asylums accumulating life’s wreckage around them. But late in 1948 that changed, when an Australian doctor, John Cade, discovered a treatment that has become the gold standard for bipolar illness – lithium.
John Cade changed the course of medicine with his discovery of lithium; yet today most doctors have never heard of his name. His discovery has stopped more people from committing suicide than a thousand helplines, yet few counsellors know of him. And it has saved hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs – enough to rival a nation’s economy – but you can bet that no politician has the slightest idea of who John Cade was.
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.