John Cade

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For the former Maryland State Senator, see John A. Cade
For the Louisiana Republican state chairman, see John H. Cade, Jr.

Dr John Frederick Joseph Cade AO (18 January 1912 – 16 November 1980) was an Australian psychiatrist credited with discovering (in 1948) the effects of lithium carbonate as a mood stabilizer in the treatment of bipolar disorder (then known as manic depression). In an age where the standard treatments for psychosis were electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomy, lithium had the distinction of being the first effective medication available to treat a mental illness.


Early life

John Cade was born in Murtoa,[nb 1] in the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia. John's father David was Murtoa's general practitioner. Ellen, John's mother, and younger brothers David and Frank completed the family. When John was a small boy, his father left for World War I and served in Gallipoli and France. On return from the war, his father suffered from 'war weariness' and had difficulty in continuing in general practice. Therefore, his father sold the practice and accepted a position with the Mental Hygiene Department. Over the next 25 years, Dr Cade Sr became medical superintendent at several Victorian mental hospitals, namely Sunbury, Beechworth and Mont Park. John and his brothers spent many of their younger years living within the grounds of these institutions, which had a great bearing on John's later deep understanding of the needs of the mentally ill.[1] John was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, matriculating in 1928. He then studied medicine at the University of Melbourne, graduating at the age of 21 years with honours in all subjects. He became a House Officer at St Vincent's Hospital and then Royal Children's Hospital before becoming severely ill with bilateral pneumococcal pneumonia. While he was convalescing, John fell in love with one of his nurses, Jean. They married in 1937.[1]

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