narcosis (närkōˈsĭs) [key], state of stupor induced by drugs. The use of narcotics as a therapeutic aid in psychiatry is believed to have a history dating back to the use of opium for mental disorders by the early Egyptians. Prolonged narcosis was employed at the beginning of the 20th cent.; its chief value was the reduction of excitement and tension in the psychotic patient. J. S. Horsley introduced (1936) the term narcoanalysis for the use of narcotics to induce a trancelike state in which the patient talks freely and intensive psychotherapy may be applied. It was used with considerable success in treatment of acute combat psychoneuroses during World War II.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.