Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine

From Celsus to Paul of Aegina

Chiara Thumiger and Peter Singer, Leiden: Brill, 2018


In Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine: From Celsus to Paul of Aegina a detailed account is given, by a range of experts in the field, of the development of different conceptualizations of the mind and its pathology by medical authors from the beginning of the imperial period to the seventh century CE. New analysis is offered, both of the dominant texts of Galen and of such important but neglected figures as Rufus, Archigenes, Athenaeus of Attalia, Aretaeus, Caelius Aurelianus and the Byzantine ‘compilers’. The work of these authors is considered both in its medical-historical context and in relation to philosophical and theological debates – on ethics and on the nature of the soul – with which they interacted.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents

Introduction. Disease Classification and Mental Illness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives – Chiara Thumiger and P. N. Singer

Broader Reflections on Mental Illness: Medical Theories in Their Socio-intellectual Context

Between Insanity and Wisdom: Perceptions of Melancholy in the Ps.-Hippocratic Letters 10–17 – George Kazantzidis

“Not a Daimōn, but a Severe Illness”: Oribasius, Posidonius and Later Ancient Perspectives on Superhuman Agents Causing Disease – Nadine Metzger

Individual Authors and Themes

Athenaeus of Attalia on the Psychological Causes of Bodily Health – Sean Coughlin

Archigenes of Apamea’s Treatment of Mental Diseases – Orly Lewis

Mental Perceptions and Pathology in the Work of Rufus of Ephesus – Melinda Letts

Mental Disorders and Psychological Suffering in Galen’s Cases – Julien Devinant

Galen on Memory, Forgetting and Memory Loss – Ricardo Julião

Stomachikon, Hydrophobia and Other Eating Disturbances: Volition and Taste in Late-Antique Medical Discussions – Chiara Thumiger

“A Most Acute, Disgusting and Indecent Disease”: Satyriasis and Sexual Disorders in Ancient Medicine – Chiara Thumiger

Mental Derangement in Methodist Nosography: What Caelius Aurelianus Had to Say – Anna Maria Urso

Mental Illnesses in the Medical Compilations of Late Antiquity: The Case of Aëtius of Amida – Ricarda Gäbel

Philosophy and Mental Illness

Making the Distinction: The Stoic View of Mental Illness – Marke Ahonen

Philosophical Psychological Therapy: Did It Have Any Impact on Medical Practice? – Christopher Gill

Galen’s Pathological Soul: Diagnosis and Therapy in Ethical and Medical Texts and Contexts – P. N. Singer


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