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The treatment of mental illness from ancient times to the 19th century

Throughout history mental illness has been "treated"in a variety of ways

Hayley Diamond

on 16 December 2016

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Transcript of The treatment of mental illness from ancient times to the 19th century

The treatment of mental illness from ancient times to the 19th century
What different names were the mentally ill called?
How did ancient people deal with abnormal behavior?
-Rituals were performed by shamans, magicians, & priests
-Potions were given to rid the body of “evil” spirits
-Exorcisms were carried out
The Ancient Greeks believed:
- the mentally ill were possessed & being punished by gods for wrongdoing
-Prayer could cure possession
Greek physician, Hippocrates
He believed that the origin of mental disorders are an imbalance of body fluids:
-Yellow bile
-Black bile
Depression according to Hippocrates
-Resulted from excess of black bile
-Used the term “melancholy” to refer to depression

melan = black chole = bile
- A procedure whereby a hole is drilled in the skull to release evil spirits.
Coloured 14th century engraving of a surgeon performing trepanation of a patient. It was used to treat many conditions in the Middle Ages, including headaches, migraines, epilepsy and mental illness. Illustration taken from Guiso de Vigevano's Anatomia (1345).
Two prints from Armamentarium chirurgicum, by Johannes Scultetus (1655), showing how trepanation was performed (left) and a set of trepanation instruments (right).
- The wide-spread belief that witchcraft and demonic possession were the causes of insanity.
Middle Ages
-Abnormal behavior was evidence of devil’s work while treatment was responsibility of the church
- People who behaved abnormally were thought to be in league with the devil! Only a “dunking test” could resolve the allegation. If the woman did not drown, she was thought to be in league with the devil and if she did drown, she was “innocent”.
During the Renaissance . . (14th-17th century)
- They believed that movements of the moon & stars caused madness.
- The terms lunacy and luna, meaning moon, were derived during this time to label people who acted abnormal.
‘Healing of the lunatic boy’ by 16th century painter Raphael in the Transfiguration of Christ.
- During the 1500’s special institutions, insane asylums, were built to house the mentally ill.
Terrible living conditions in the asylums
- Infamous London robber, Jack Sheppard, visited his mother at the notorious Bethlehem asylum.
The Bethlehem asylum in London was nicknamed “Bedlam” for its chaotic, unsanitary living conditions.

Patients often were treated as prisoners. This drawing was made in 1812 in Bedlam.
In 1840s, French physician, Philippe Pinel supervises unchaining of hospital inmates.
Pinel’s mental health reforms led to the widespread movement called moral therapy.
Now bring it all together by watching the video clip
Full transcript