Class 2: September 12, 2012
The History of Western Ideas and Practices of Mental Health
The History of Mental Health Practices in Canada
Alleged Origins of Clinical Psychology
-larger historical context
-unfounded claim – Clinical Psych is at the peek of a triangle that starts at Greek Medicine
and Roman Science PROBLEM
Clinical Psychology is a 20 century invention, there was no clinical psychology before that
time, Western civilization, primarily but not exclusively Capitalist Nations
Historical “Tree of Knowledge”
The metaphor of a “Tree of Knowledge,” – unbroken line from Ancient Greeks till now, false
Ancient Greeks never had a term for psychology, doesn’t mean they never thought
psychological thoughts but they didn’t use the concepts or language that we’re familiar
Origins of Ideas and Practices re: Mental Health
Antigone is accused of being crazy because she dared to defy
People have been talking about crazy behaviour for millennia
Aristole and Hippocrates (ca. 400 BCE)
-both provided Naturalistic explanations on how people behaved based on observation
-they talked about mental health, not in our language and the way we understand it, but
their ideas were very influential on Western culture
-Hippocratic Oath: Ethical Norm – physicians take this oath
-ABOVE ALL DO NO HARM
Galen (129-198 CE)
-built on the understanding of human nature by advancing the notion of a ‘humour’ –
unobservable 4 counterparts: earth, air , fire and water. Keeps us balanced to maintain
-Promoted humane treatment for persons coping with psychosis – how to treat people
-treat people the way you wish to be treated
-Emphasized environmental and psychological causes of mental disorders
Middle Ages in Europe
Turned the church for solace
Demonic Possession – therapy consists of getting Satan out, people were physically abused The Renaissance
Painters and playwrights began to appreciate that perhaps all of us have inclinations of
Many of Shakespeare’s characters example Hamlet – depression, suicide, murder
Appreciation for how human beings have the capacity to fall apart and become mad
The Early Modern Era: Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
-A French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher.
-He proposed the superiority of the mind/soul to the body.
-The mind/soul is definitely superior to the body – it has a spirit, which makes us act
irrational, the job of m/s is to gain control of the body. The body operates b mechanical
-When you divide human functioning from body and m/s you have Cartesian Dualism. How
do you explain how the body and m/s interact?
The 18 Century Enlightenment (Age of Reason)
-the increased cultural emphasis on ‘reason’ resulted in viewing the mentally ill as inferior.
-correspondingly, the number of ‘insane asylums’ increased.
-there was no place for people who’s minds were fractured
-insane asylum – food, place to sleep, no treatment, received visitors – wealthy people who
would visit for their own amusement
-Hamilton Psychiatry, Kingston – modern insane asylums
19 Century Anglo-American Societies
-“moral therapy” – included the hope for cure, respectful care, and no physical restraints.
But insane asylums remained the norm.
-return to the ideas of Galen
-Quaker movement – began in Britain …
-The unscientific doctrine of Social Darwinism – survival of the fittest humans – saw mental
illness as a sign of biological inferiority. This doctrine became increasingly popular in
-rational against moral therapy, rational for healthiest people prevail
-eugenics – breeding white Anglo-Americans
Late 19 Century Science and Medicine: Laying the Groundwork