Some of the most painful and torturous of all illnesses are those of the mind. There are many of instances of insanity among humans throughout history, some dating back to around 400 B.C. (PBS). These people were not considered human, but instead they were looked at as animals. There were several attempts to “cure” people of this kind, yet most were inhumane and brutal forms of torture. Many times, especially in early history, these people would be locked away and treated as if they had no purpose but to waste space. The way mentally insane people were treated throughout history was brutal and horrific.
In the early years dating back to 400 B.C. In ancient Egypt, Greece, India, and Rome there are writings of mentally ill people being described as “demonically possessed” ("Greeks & Romans."). For example, in the stone age, they believed people to be possessed with demons and they would drill a hole into the affected persons skull to give the demons a way of passage out of the body. The ancient Egyptians felt the same way about mentally ill being demonically possessed, but instead of drilling a hole in the skull they would treat them physically with herbal medicines and things such as that. ("Ancient Egypt.") Yet in the Greek civilizations, disorders of the mind would be considered dishonorable and the affected would more than likely be shunned. There was, though, one mind who thought differently. Hippocrates was a well known philosopher. He believed that mentally ill people had a disease of the brain rather than the popular belief that they had insulted and brought anger to the gods. He disagreed completely with the treatment of the mental and the punishments they were given, mostly because he believed they had no control over their mental stability. ("Greeks & Romans.") This was a very drastic difference
in thought during that time.
During the middle ages, christianity was becoming increasingly influential throughout the world. Because of this influence, new theories about mental illness were surfacing. Thus including the idea that the body is ruled by the soul and a person who was acting without their soul was possessed by a demon. When a person was believed to be possessed, there were many ways people would attempt to be rid of them. One more popular treatment was that of an exorcism. Exorcisms are the more popular and well known treatments, even to this day. Also, they would do minor treatments such as shaving a cross into the hair of the person affected or making them drink ice cold water or listen in on a church service. (web citation). A more vulgar way of treating the mentally ill was to make the demon “uncomfortable” by placing the affected under hot water or sulphur fumes. Many of the mentally ill were placed into dungeons and given little to no food and water, little clothing, and were beaten regularly. (cite) Because of these things, many of the ill would not last very long.
During the 1800’s mental illness...