Monday, October 15, 2012

Early history of psychopathology

Psychopathology is the scientific study of abnormal behavior. The origins of interest in the workings of psychopathology were connected in their earliest form to studies of astronomy and spiritual unknowns. 

Description of abnormal behavior can be found amongst the historical records of the first civilization and it is certain that the early Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Incas were familiar with features of disturbed behavior which is identify today as mental illness.

For example, major depressive disorder, then called melancholia, was first described in a systematic fashion by the Greek physician, Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC). Hippocrates also described mania and phrenitis were identified as mental disorders and this list was expanded to include paranoia, catatonia and hebephrenia, among others.

Hippocrates tried to explain states of mind and even psychological types by means of variations in the mixture of bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile).

It was not until the 6th BC that philosophers and scientists began to speculate intelligently about a wide range of psychological process.

John Locke in the 7th century described a clinical procedure for overcoming unusual fear.

The works of Albertus Magnus (1206-1280) dealt with the classic hippocratic approach as well as with the possibility of demonic causes of mental illness. The perilous position of mentally ill individuals was illustrated in 1484, when Pope issued a decree reminding his emissaries that sudden loss of reasons, amongst other signs, should be regarded as one of the features of demonic possession, for which the appropriate action was burning at the stake.
Early history of psychopathology

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