History of psychiatry
Mental illness is as old
as mankind itself, but it was not until 1808 that the word
psychiatry was coined by Professor Johann Christian Reil in his
seminal paper “On the term of medicine and its branches, especially
with regard to the rectification of the topic in psychiatry”. The
word psychiatry itself derives from the two greek words psyche,
meaning soul or mind, and iatros, meaning physician.
For much of human history
mental disorders were often considered to have supernatural origins
and the mentally ill were thought to be possessed by evil spirits.
Many treatments during this time were based on magic and sorcery
and exorcism was a popular “cure”.
The first psychiatric
hospitals were set up in the eighth century in the medieval Islamic
world, but many consider that the development of modern psychiatry
did not begin until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Mental health institutions began to use more elaborate and more
humane treatment methods in the 19th century, and
psychiatry developed as a recognised field.
century brought with it an understanding of the biology behind many
mental disorders and the development of new drugs for the treatment
of many psychiatric conditions.
To find out more about the history of
psychiatry, please see the links below:
Please note, the above links will open in a new window.
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Page last updated
on 23 October 2013