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Majnūn: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society$
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Michael W. Dols

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202219.001.0001

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Galen and Mental Illness

Galen and Mental Illness

(p.17) 1 Galen and Mental Illness
Majnūn: The Madman in Medieval Islamic Society

Michael W. Dols

Diana E. Immisch

Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to describe and to explain the development of the medical notion of insanity in Greek medicine, primarily the 2nd-century writings of Galen. Before the Islamic era, Hippocratic medicine had been considerably augmented by the works of Galen in the 2nd century ad. Although the Hippocratic corpus was always highly esteemed in the Middle Ages, it was overshadowed by Galen because of the extent and nature of his writings. When Galen came to explain psychic disorders, he relied on humoral theory which stated that mental disturbances resulted mainly from humoral imbalances in the brain that damaged its functioning. Medical treatment aimed at re-establishing the balance of the bodily humours, primarily on the principle of contraries, or at removing or moderating the effect of physical causes, especially by evacuations and drugs.

Keywords:   Galen, mental illness, Greek medicine, psychic disorder, humoral theory, mental disturbances

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