Connect with us


3 Bizarre Made-Up Mental Illnesses From Antiquity

Over the centuries, physicians and philosophers developed mental illness diagnoses as a means of describing behaviors deemed unacceptable to specific groups of people. Some of the bizarre illnesses reflected the ignorance of medical science at the time. Other theories expressed the prejudices of one gender or race toward another. Growth in social and psychological understanding eventually contributed to the dismissal of these concepts of mental illness.

Long before the understanding of hormones or the acceptance female equality, Ancient Greeks considered disagreeable or dominating women as suffering from hysteria. The term originated from “hustera” meaning womb. The famous philosophers Hippocrates and Plato believed that the uterus was the organ responsible for causing any number of symptoms that included everything from cramping and fluid retention to anxiety and insomnia. Physicians commonly diagnosed single women with the condition during medieval times.
By the 19th century, physicians around the world believed that treating hysteria required massaging the genitalia until women experienced orgasm. Though many might find the practice jaw dropping today, health care professionals did not recognize the treatment as sexual gratification. Physicians initially provided the treatment until passing the daunting task onto midwives. During this time, a physician invented the vibrator, which enabled women to achieve symptomatic relief independently.
Dysaethesia Aethiopica
American physician and psychiatrist Samuel Adolphus Cartwright developed many theories of mental illness that he identified in the black population. The dysaethesia theory meant “abnormal Ethiopian perception.” The mental health condition described what slavery proponents viewed as irresponsible, lazy and uncivilized behavior in Negroes. The racists particularly assigned the diagnosis, also called “rascality” to freed slaves. Viewing the people as childlike and unaware of a need for being managed, the men believed the condition treatable with what society now recognizes as physical abuse.
Cartwright proposed that blacks suffered from the condition because of the color and insensitivity of the skin. Curing the condition required coating the skin with oil after bathing the ailing black individual with soap and water. Ensuring that the skin absorbed the oil required whipping with a leather strap. The final step in the treatment process involved engaging the individual in rigorous manual labor. After enduring the harsh therapy, Cartwright also believed that the individual experienced gratitude for having his/her senses and intellect restored.
Even with modern day research, technology and greater understanding, therapists continue describing variances in human behavior as mental illness. Up until 1973, practitioners considered homosexuality a mental illness and included the condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For centuries before psychiatrists adopted the mental illness theory, many viewed homosexuality as a curable spiritual illness that merely required repentance of sin. Many continue holding this opinion today.
Though activists spent decades fighting for gay acceptance and gay rights, discrimination occurs in many locations around the world, including the United States. Numerous accounts throughout modern history tell the story of someone enduing oppression and sometimes physical violence for having a different sexual preference. Not fitting into what a community, current society or a select few members of the medical community considers normal poses a danger for misdiagnosis, ostracism and ridicule.

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Peter Long is a clinical psychologist and guest author at Best Psychology Degrees, a site with guides and information about online psychology degree programs.

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Travel1 month ago

Best Places To Visit In The North Of England

If you live in England, you will know there are many different places to visit for the weekend. There are...

General1 month ago

Green Home Improvement Ideas

In a world where environmental concerns are growing, the concept of “green” has gone beyond a trendy catchphrase and is...

Lifestyle2 months ago

How to Host an Unforgettable House-Warming!

The time has finally come. You have moved into your dream pad, and are officially adulting in your very own...

Autos2 months ago

A Guide to Parking Lot Striping

The journey to a well-striped parking lot begins with the right paint. In this brief guide, we’ll unravel the mystery...

Business4 months ago

Business Tips For Protecting Your Finances During A Recession

In 2023, taking the necessary steps to protect your finances for your business is now more important than ever. The...

Lifestyle5 months ago

Tips For Cleaning Your Trainers

If you’re into your trainers and streetwear, you’re likely to be very conscious of keeping them looking their best! So,...

Marketing6 months ago

Branding Trends For Start-Ups in 2023

Branding is incredibly important as it impacts how your business reaches and connects with its target market. If you’re branding...

Business6 months ago

Avoiding the Wrong Kind of Growth

Growth is vital for any business – some models, like tech start-ups, are built around periods of dramatic, explosive growth...

Business6 months ago

How To Become A Property Developer

There are several reasons why an individual will want to become a property developer. One of the main reasons for...

Tech8 months ago

What Is The Difference Between Cyber Attacks and Cyber Threats?

If you own a business that uses the cloud to manage workloads, you have probably heard of the terms cyberattack...

Marketing8 months ago

3 Types of Marketing Every Small Construction Business Should Do

Construction is a very saturated sector, whether you’re a large or small construction company, so marketing should be at the...

Business9 months ago

How Relevant Life Insurance Plans Can Future-Proof Your Business

Last year, UK inflation reached the highest level that it had been for decades. The markets became unsteady and nervous...

Autos9 months ago

In a Car Accident? Here’s How to Find a Great Lawyer

If you’ve recently been in a car accident, you know that it can be an overwhelming experience. Not only do...

Education9 months ago

Considering Therapy? Here’s a Few Common Therapy Techniques Explained

If you’re considering therapy as a means to improve your mental health, you may be curious about the type of...

home repairs home repairs
Home Improvement9 months ago

Top 5 Home Repairs You Should Never DIY

DIY home repairs are all the rage these days. But before you jump on the bandwagon, there are some things...