Psychiatry and Psychology in Medieval Persia
J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(12):1862-1869
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Objective: The history of psychological
sciences and especially the ways in which related disorders were treated in medieval Persia are
not well known in the West. The main objective of this article is to review the clinical approaches
to psychological disorders used by practitioners
in medieval Persia.
Data Sources: Several documents still
exist from which the clinical data on different
psychological syndromes in medieval Persia can be
ascertained. Data for this review were identified
by searches of MEDLINE, Current Contents, the Internet, references from relevant articles
and books, the Astan-e-Ghods Razavi Library, the Tehran University Library, the Mashhad
University Library, and the files of the authors.
Search terms included psychiatry,
psychology, Persian, medieval,
Avicenna, and pharmacotherapy.
Discussion: The medieval practitioners
defined various signs and symptoms, apparent causes, and hygienic and dietary rules for
prevention of these disorders. Medieval Persian
medical writings encouraged the treatment of
psychological disorders by tackling the conditions that
cause or contribute to the disorder and through the
use of electrical-shock therapy, phlebotomy,
psychotherapy, music and color therapy, and
especially prescription of long lists of medicaments.
Conclusion: Some of the approaches of
doctors in medieval Persia are accepted today, although most remain largely unexamined.
With further research, more of these treatments may
be shown to be of use to modern medicine.