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Historical Details Netflix's 'Ratched' Gets Right

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Netflix's Ratched is Ryan Murphy's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest prequel that takes a deep dive into the character of Nurse Mildred Ratched (played by Sarah Paulson). Set in the Lucia State Hospital in 1947, the story not only examines the origin story of the titular character, but also many of the antiquated medical treatments and practices of the time. 

Here are a few disturbing moments, as well as looks, locations, and characters of the series that are true to history.

  • The 'Modern Lobotomy' Involved A Hand Drill And A Sedative

    Photo: Netflix

    In the second episode, Dr. Richard Hanover (Jon Jon Briones) uses a hand drill on four patients to "cure" them. This is a method developed in 1935 by Egas Moniz, who found the procedure made patients  "calm and manageable but their affect more blunted."

    Moniz won the 1949 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work. 

  • An Ice Pick Can Be Used For A Transorbital Lobotomy 

    Photo: Netflix

    In the episode "Ice Pick," an ice pick is driven into the brain of a "patient" through the eye using a hammer, inserting the tool into the frontal lobe. The blunt instrument is then rotated in the brain, thus severing neural connections. This was a new "treatment" at the time, first developed in 1946 by a psychiatrist named Walter Freeman.

  • LSD Was Used As A Medical Treatment

    Photo: Netflix

    In the episode "Angel of Mercy," it is revealed that Dr. Hanover used LSD to treat Lenore Osgood's (Sharon Stone) son. Lysergic acid diethylamide was first synthesized in 1938 and experiments using the drug were conducted by professionals in the psychotherapy field.  

  • The Hydrotherapy Treatment Was Another Common Medical Treatment

    Photo: Netflix

    In the "Angel of Mercy" episode, the patient Lily is subjected to the hydrotherapy treatment, which features two bathtubs: one filled with boiling water and the other with ice. The patient/victim is subjected to being boiled alive followed by an ice bath as a medical treatment. Developed in Germany, hydrotherapy was commonly used since the 1890s to treat a large array of illnesses and disorders.