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Views Of Mental Illness Among Greeks, Romans, And Christians

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses a phenomenon-mental illness and psychotherapy. It also discusses the questions: what were ancient understandings of mental illness; how were various types of psychological maladies treated; and, were Christians any or much different from their contemporaries in this regard. The chapter begins with a survey and anthology of passages from Greco-Roman authors, and then sees how the New Testament and early Christian writings fit into their world in this regard. The most famous healing shrine of antiquity was at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese, where patients would sleep and receive instructions from the god Asclepius. When one looks in the New Testament for discussions of mental illness in particular, the exorcisms performed by Jesus and the apostles jump conspicuously to the fore. Early Christian authors address the topic of mental illness in various contexts and for different purposes.

Keywords: Christian; Greco-Roman; mental illness; New Testament



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