A brief history of Mental Illness

We talk about Mental health stigma all the time so I thought a little history on the topic was overdue.

Plato (428 – 348 B.C.) believed that there were three possible causes of mental disturbance–disease of the body, or imbalance of base emotions or intervention by the gods. He wrote about conditions that are recognized today–melancholia or depression, in which a person loses interest in life, and manic states, in which a person becomes euphoric or agitated. He argued that these be treated, not by chanting priests with snakes, but by convincing the person to act rationally, threatening him with confinement or rewarding him for good behavior. There was hope even then!

Hippocrates (c. 460 – 377 B.C.) proposed treating melancholia by inducing vomiting with herbs to rid the body of humors, specifically black bile. Then the body was to be built up with good food and exercise. He taught that pleasures, sorrows, sleeplessness, anxieties and absent-mindedness came from the brain when it is not healthy, but becomes “abnormally hot, cold, moist, or dry … Madness comes from its moistness”.

The Greek physician Claudius Galen (A.D. 129 – 216) accepted the theory of humors, but he dissected cadavers to study the body, and he believed that a network of nerves carried messages and sensations to and from every part of the body to the center of the nervous system, the brain.

The common people, however, rarely heard any of these reasonable explanations…

This is just a brief history. Please do your homework and find out more if you find it interesting. If this inspires you, write about it and guest blog! 




2 thoughts on “A brief history of Mental Illness

  1. Today, you also blogged about self-confidence… In fact, I have been involved with work related to teens, mental health, school-to-work, and development of social skills and work readiness.

    In fact, I have met probably more than a hundred people that had an Mental-Health diagnosis and were in treatment for a long time and later came to find that by training of social skills that the mental ills declined and well-being improved.

    I often blog about mindfulness, spirituality, and self-improvement. I typically write to an audience of healthy mature adults. I see here that you typically write to a younger audience but in the same manner.

    As adults we must at a point decide that well-being is important and then eliminate barriers and take up a healthy life style.

    Otherwise, really, good healthy choices that increase personal freedom from nagging insecurity and wrongful behaviors usually are substantially diminished.

    Healthy life style usually brings about greater physical, mental, and emotional health,

    The stigma is difficult enough, the inner turmoil really is the hugest enemy though, Looking into how to build healthy esteem and social skills is a good investment for anyone and especially if there are health issues – physical, mental, emotional or spiritual too.


    • I just would like to thank you for all of your input you have given youth of a Nation. Your blog is truly an inspirational and informative. I am sure you have helped many.



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