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Introduction | Early Treatments | Middle Ages and the Renaissance | 18th and 19th Centuries | 1900's | 1930's and 1940's | 1950's and 1960's | Today
Middle Ages and the Renaissance
A Historical Overview of Mental Illness Treatment

The Middles Ages

During the Middle Ages in Europe, from the fall of the Roman Empire in 5th century AD to about the 15th century, religious beliefs , specifically Christianity,dominated concepts of mental illness. Much of society believed that the mentally ill were possessed by the devil or demons, or accused them of being witches and infecting others with madness. Therefore, instead of receiving care from physicians the mentally ill were objects of cruel and barbaric treatment.
The Islamic world of North Africa, Spain , and the Middle East generally had more humane attitudes toward people with mental illnesses. Following the belief that God loved insane people, communities began establishing asylums in the 18th century AD, first in Baghdad and later in Cairo, Damascus, and Fez. The asylums offered patients special  diets, baths, drugs, music, and pleasant surroundings.
The Renaissance brought both progress and a decline in the views of mental illness. On one hand, there were many more witch-hunts and executions throughout Europe, and the mentally ill were  among those persecuted.On the other hand, protested these supernatural view and had more rational explanations for the behavior of the mentall ill.