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Chapter 2

PSYC 3390 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Clifford Whittingham Beers, Moral Treatment, Demonic Possession

Course Code
PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

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CHAPTER 2 Historical and Contemporary Views of Abnormal Behaviour
6 500 B.C.E. trephining: chip away at part of skull to make hole (trephine); allowed evil spirit to
16th century B.C.E. Egypt earliest recordings of treatments of diseases and behaviour disorders,
brain described for first time and recognized as area for mental function
Demonolgy, Gods, and Magic
Chinese, Egyptians, Hebrews and Greeks usually associated abnormal behaviour to a demon or god
who had possessed a person
religious or mystical significant actions = possession of good spirit these people were respected
most possessions thought to be work of angry god or spirit; wrath or punishment of God
primary treatment = exorcism
Hippocrates’ Early Medical Concepts
believed mental illnesses had natural causes and treatments; not to do with demons or gods
emphasized heredity and predisposition
head injuries = sensory and motor disorders
classified mental disorders into 3 categories
o Mania
o Melancholia
o Phrenitis (brain fever)
four elements of material world earth, air, fire and water - combined to form four essential fluids
of the body blood (sanguis), phlegm, bile (choler) and black bile (melancholer)
these fluids combined in certain proportions which ever humour was dominant determined a
person’s temperament : sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic
Early Philosophical Conceptions
thought mentally disturbed patients not responsible for their crimes, should be cared for by the
saw psychological phenomena as responses of the whole organism; reflecting its internal state and
natural appetites
importance of individual differences, sociocultural influences
focused on consciousness; thinking as directed could eliminate pain and help attain pleasure
didn’t believe disorders could be caused by psychological factors (frustration, conflict)
believed in bile disturbances; very hot bile generated amorous desires, verbal fluency, and suicidal
Later Greek and Roman Thought
332 B.C.E. - Hippocrates work carried on; higher level of medical practice, therapies using pleasant
surroundings in temple, diet, massage
less desirable treatments bloodletting, purging, mechanical restraints
contributed to research on anatomy and nervous system
dissected animals; human autopsies not yet allowed
divided causes of psychological disorders into physical and mental causes

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CHAPTER 2 Historical and Contemporary Views of Abnormal Behaviour
causes: injuries to the head, use of alcohol, menstrual changes, economic reversals and
disappointment in love
Roman medicine:
pleasant physical therapies
contrariis contrarius (opposite by opposite) therapy: drink chilled wine in warm bath
2.1 DEVELOPMENTS IN THINKING: Hysteria and Melancholia through Ages
“conversion disorder” in DSM-IV-TR
believed to be caused by barren/wandering uterus
17th century Willis theorized the disorder was caused from brain disorder
different forms in men and women
thought to be demonic possession
Griesinger found biological basis for depression
Kraeplin prepared modern view of psychiatry; identified manic depression and major category of
Abnormality during the Middle Ages
Islamic countries scientific aspects of Greek medicine survived in Islamic countries humane
treatment in mental hospitals
Europe inhumane treatment and devoid of scientific thinking; limited inquiry into abnormal
behaviour, treatment about ritual or superstition not understanding
Supernatural explanations of the causes of mental illness became popular
influence of theology, ‘sin’ thought to be causal factor
Mass madness:
last half of middle ages; widespread occurrence of group behaviour disorders apparently hysteria
tarantism a.k.a. Saint Vitus dance; uncontrollable impulse to dance; attributed to bite of south
European Tarantula
dance became part of old rites, dancing became the ‘cure’
lycanthropy people believed to be possessed by wolves and imitated their behaviour
mass madness now known as mass psychogenic illness
in contemporary cultures, involves sufferer attributing bodily changes to a serious disease
outbreaks occur after environmental event or trigger
misinterpretation of symptoms likely to happen if health effects known
index person (first person to report symptoms) may be suffering from a genuine medical condition
but misinterprets significance of symptoms
Exorcism and witchcraft:
in middle ages in Europe, management of mentally disturbed mostly left to clergy
treated with kindness in beginning; treatments consisted of prayer and holy water
exorcism: symbolic acts used to drive out devil from possessed people, done by gentle ‘laying of
hands’ in addition to some medical treatments (medical prescriptions)
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