Chlorpromazine became an available prescription in France in 1952 under the name Largactil. The drug was prescribed for a diverse range of conditions, but quickly became mainly used in psychiatric treatment. In the mid-1950s, Chlorpromazine would be introduced to the United States as Thorazine, an clinical trials were conducted at state mental hospitals across the country. The use of neuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs was considered revolutionary at the time, because patients that were once seen as unable to receive treatment began making significant improvements.
Thorazine was seen as being the most beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia. While it was not a cure, the drug removed some of the symptoms that were barriers to treatment. Thorazine and other neuroleptic drugs are effective dopamine antagonists. This means that the drug blocks dopamine receptors in the brain. At the time Thorazine first came on the market, it was believed that illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were linked to high levels of dopamine activity in the brain. While this hypothesis has changed over time, many neuroscientists and psychiatrists continue to believe that there is a connection of some kind between these illnesses and dopamine in the brain.
‘Thorazine’ is highly effective in controlling symptoms of psychosis or neurosis, whether of organic or functional orgin. ‘Thorazine’ calms anxious, agitated, protesting and rebellious patients, inducing placidity and relaxation. Intelligence, memory and judgement are left intact, or, in the case of many psychotics, are even strikingly improved. Frequently, receptiveness to psychotherapy is markedly enhanced.
-Clinical Uses of Thorazine, Smith, Kline & French Laboratories