Trephination, Witch Hunts and Modern Psychology
Mental health issues have a history all the way back to Prehistoric times. Men believed that people who displayed abnormal behavior possessed evil spirits and demanded them to act as they do. The only cure for that person was to rid the evil spirit from him or her. The act of trephination, or cutting a hole into the skull, practiced by the earliest doctors to relieve the evils spirits of their possession of the body, became commonplace. This practice can still be seen in modern medicine but not for the same purpose. Today the medical professionals use trephination in cases kept for the release of epidural and subdural hematoma by a neurosurgeon to save lives. When the Greek and Roman period arrived, a renowned scholar, Hippocrates, recognized mental illness as caused by disease and not spiritual or the supernatural. He wrote of the four humors: melancholia, dementia, hysteria, and hallucinations. He was the first to believe mental illness originates by forces outside the body. This was in direct contrast of Plato and Aristotle. Galen, also in this era, believed that mental illness was in the blood and believed that bloodletting was a cure to rid people of all forms of mental disturbances. When the Christians arrived at an approach to abnormal behavior, mental illness became an issue of good versus evil or more predominantly, God versus Satan. The cruelty to those with mental illness was advocated and often practiced to the point of permanent disability or death. The end of this era saw the most humble beginnings of establishing mental hospitals for those that had signs of mental disturbances. The renaissance began a whole new brutality to people displaying mental illness. The Christians called them witches, took their property, and burned them alive at the stake. Evidences show the governments did this to take their...