ur historical efforts to understand abnormal psychologyinclude both humor and tragedy. In this chapter, we will highlight some views of psychopathology, and some of the treatments administered, from ancient times to the twenty-first century. In a broad sense, we will see a progression of beliefs from what we now consider superstition to those based on scientific awareness-from
a focus on supernatural explanations toa knowledge of natural causes. The course of this evolution has often been markedby periods of advancement or unique individual contributions, followed by longyears of
The earliest treatment of mental disorders was that prac- ticed by Stone Age cave dwellers some half amillion years ago. For certain forms of mental disorders(probably those in which the individual complained of severe headaches and developed convulsive attacks), the early shaman, or medicine man, treated thedisorder by meansof an opera- tion now called "trephining."This operation was per- formed with crude stone instruments and consistedof chipping away one area of the skull in the form of a circle until the skull was cut through. This opening, called a
may incidentally have relieved a certain amount of pressure on the brain. In some cases, trephined skulls of primitive peo- ple show healing around the opening, indicating that the patient survived the operation andlived for many years afterward (Arnott, Finger,& Smith, 2003; Selling, 1943).
few thousand years. Thus our knowledge of our early ancestors islimited. Two Egyptian papyri dating from the sixteenth centuryB.C. provide someclues to the earliest treatments of diseases and behavior disorders(Okasha& Okasha, 2000). The Edwin Smith papyrus(named after its nineteenth-century
discoverer) contains detailed descrip- tions of the treatment of wounds and other surgical oper- ations. In it, the brain isdescribed-possibly
the writing clearly shows thatthe brain was recognized as the site of mentalfunctions. The Ebers papyrus offers another perspective on treatment. It covers internal medicine and the circulatory system but relies more on incantations and magic for explaining and curing diseases that had unknown causes. Although surgi- cal techniques may have been used, they were probably coupled with prayers and thelike that reflectedthe prevail- ing view of the origin of behaviordisorders.
attributed such behavior to a demon or god who had taken possession of a person. Whether the"possession" was assumed to involve good spirits or evil spirits usually
Most possessions, however, were considered to be the work of an angry god or an evil spirit, particularly when a personbecame excited or overactive and engaged in behavior contrary to religious teachings. Among the ancient Hebrews, for example, such possessions were
such cases, every effort was made to ridthe person of the evil spirit. Jesus reportedly cured a man with an "unclean spirit" by transferring the devils that plaguedhim to a herd of swine, which, in turn, became possessed and"ran vio-
Theprimary type of treatment for demonic posses- sion was exorcism, which included various techniques for casting an evil spirit out of an afflicted person. These tech-
The Greektemples of healing ushered in the Golden Age of Greece under the Athenian leader Pericles(461-429B.C.). This period saw considerable progress in the understand-
orders, likeotherdiseases,had natural causes and appropri- ate treatments.He believed that thebrain was the central organ of intellectual activity and that mental disorders were
gave detailedclinical descriptions of the specific disorders included ineach category. He relied heavily on clinical observation, and his descriptions, which
worldwere thought to be earth, air, fire, and water, which had attributes of heat, cold, moistness,and dryness. These elements combined to form the four essential fluids of the body-blood
bile(melancholer). The fluids combined in different pro- portions within different individuals, and a person's tem- perament was determined by which of the humors was dominant. From thisview came one of the earliest and longest-lasting typologies of human behavior: the san- guine, the phlegmatic, the choleric, and the melancholic. Each of these"types" brought with ita set of personality attributes. For example, the person of sanguine tempera- mentwas optimistic, cheerful, and unafraid.
Hippocrates considered dreams to be importantin understandinga patient's personality. On this point, he was a harbinger of a basic concept of modern psychody- namic psychotherapy. The treatments advocated by Hip- pocrates were far in advance of the exorcistic practices then prevalent.
Developments inThinking2.1 on p. 30), forexample, he prescribeda regular and tranquil life, sobriety andabsti- nence from allexcesses, a vegetable diet, celibacy, exercise
pathology) was restricted to women and was caused by the uterus wandering tovarious parts of the body, pining for children. For this "disease," Hippocrates recommended marriage as the best remedy.
Platoviewed psychological phenomena as responses of the whole organism, reflecting its internalstate and nat- ural appetites.InThe Republic, Plato emphasized the impor- tanceof individual differences in intellectualand other
Now bringing you back...
Does that email address look wrong? Try again with a different email.