Anxiety-Panic History
PrehistorySevere fears that cause acute problems are seen in animals as well as man; from mouse to elephant, any species can become "spooked." In the human family, every culture has reported individuals with phobias, throughout the centuries. (48)
PrehistoryHerbal remedies and intoxicating substances have been used by people throughout the world since before recorded history.
c. 3000 BCYoga is developed in India.
2750 BCthe earliest explanations for mental illness - as recorded in ancient Babylon in 2750 BC - attributed it to the anger of powerful deities whom man, through his immoral behavior, had angered. (30)
c. 2000 BCAncient tribes living on the steppes of central Russia apparently used chemical means to reduce fear and increase the fighting power of their warriors. The Koyak and Wiros tribes perfected a drug made from the Amanita muscaria mushroom, a red-speckled cousin of the deadly "Angel of Death." The shamans of the tribes also learned that when a warrior urinated after eating the mushroom, the potency of the drug in his urine was many times greater than before. Warriors would then store the urine and drink it on the eve of battle. After a while, they hit upon the idea of feeding the mushroom to reindeer and gathering their urine. (30)
Early CivilizationBoth Egyptian and Hebraic concepts of mental illness (and even physical illness) were rooted in the notion of individual sin. (30)
Early Civilizationthe Greeks were the first to develop the [mind-brain] dualism which still characterizes psychiatry. (30)
Early CivilizationThe word panic is derived from the Greek god Pan; who, according to legend, could inspire overwhelming and irrational fear, especially when disturbed from his sleep. The word anxiety is derived from the Latin word 'angere' meaning to choke, or strangle. The word fear is derived from the Germanic languages; originally meaning 'to lie in wait, to ambush, and to pounce upon.'
Early CivilizationOur tendency to consider phobias a contemporary disease arising from twentieth-century stress is quickly dispelled by the ancient Greeks. They described people who, although otherwise normal, refused to leave their homes. They named these unfortunate individuals "agoraphobic," meaning those with a fear of the marketplace. (48)
c. 480 BCHerodotus records that as the battle for the pass of Thermopylae was about to begin, two soldiers of the hand-picked elite Spartan unit of three hundred reported to the surgeon and claimed that they were suffering from an "acute inflammation of the eyes." When the battle began one of the Spartan soldiers, Aristodemus, "finding his heart failed him," remained safely in the rear and did not join the fight, although the other soldier did. After the battle, the Spartans gave Aristodemus the name "the trembler" for his refusal to fight and Aristodemus "found himself in such disgrace that he hanged himself." ... As in the case of Aristodemus, soldiers with similar experiences often suffer severe depression and, all to often, commit suicide. (30)
c. 450 BCMilitary perceptions of why men collapse in battle were formed in the military experiences of Classical Greece (450 BC). The Greeks believed that performance in battle was a function of the character of the soldier. Greek military literature emphasized the connection between moral character and military training and heroism in battle. Heroes were men who controlled their fears; cowards succumb to them; that was the only relevant criterion for assessing soldierly performance. So strongly did the Greeks hold to this view that for almost 400 years they resisted the adoption of superior military technologies on the grounds that to adopt weapons of greater range and lethality would destroy the distinction between heroes and cowards. (30)
c. 400 BCHippocrates was a physician. More a systematizer than an innovator, Hippocrates added little to our nosology, relying on the diagnostic categories already in place. This consisted primarily of mania, hysteria, paranoia, and (in later works, and perhaps added by another author) melancholia. Hippocrates stated that: "... from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, ... as well as our sorrows, pains, grief [dysphrosune], and tears. It is the same organ which makes us mad or delirious, inspires us with dread and fear, brings sleeplessness ... and aimless anxiety." ... He subscribed to the prevailing notion that hysteria affected only women, resulted from the womb (hyster) traveling periodically to the brain, and could best be remedied by (early) marriage. Here he hints at a connection between sexual frustration and hysteria, a notion that persisted to the time of Pinel, who, in the 1790s, also advocated early marriage as a cure. (36)
c. 332 BCPlato's pupil, Aristotle, contended that the brain condensed vapors that emanated from the heart. This viewpoint endured well into the 18th century, where "vapours" were believed to cause nervous, especially "hysteric," states (Pomme, 1767; Purcell, 1707). (36)
c. 1Opium has a history in medicine as old as time and for centuries served the wealthy as a sedative. (31)
c. 1Electrical stimulation for therapeutic purposes is not new. At least two millennium ago, physicians used electric eels to relieve pain. (26)
c. 20In the early years of the first century AD we are afforded an example of self-mutilation still viewed as demonic possession. While Jesus and his disciples were in the land of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-11), they came upon a wild and untamable man, a hermit perhaps, whose strength was so great that he had broken the chains by which people had tried to bind him. He was seen as possessed by an "unclean spirit" who "always, night and day, was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones." Jesus cured the man by ordering the evil spirit to depart from him. As in the Old Testament, this kind of aberration was not understood in medical terms as a symptom of some condition, but in terms of good and evil and the world of spirits. (36)
c. 400The next 500 years are considered the "Dark Ages" in Western civilization: roughly the time period between the 5th and 11th centuries, from the fall of Rome to the beginnings of the Renaissance. ... Aberrant mental phenomena were now explained in quasi-moral terms involving references to evil spirits, ghosts, incubi and succubi, and the like. ... Strange behavior in others, unacceptable impulses in oneself, personal shortcomings - especially in the sexual sphere (barrenness, impotence) - were no longer accounted for by science and observation. The mechanism of externalization won the day: These were all the Devil's fault, or the result of one's sins, or due to a witch's hex. Influential Church leaders, such as St. Jerome in the 5th century and Pope Gregory IX in the 6th century, disparaged book-learning. The way to knowledge was through belief; the cure for madness was through the application of holy relics to the head or the exorcism of evil spirits via incantations. (36)
c. 500Around A.D. 500, St. Augustine proposed that higher mental functions come from the brain's ventricles, the caverns that contain cerebrospinal fluid. This view persisted for centuries. (42)
c. 800The Vikings of the ninth century routinely used chemical stimulants made from deer urine [to steel their will against fear]. (30)
c. 900Unhammad developed a classification of mental illnesses consisting of nine major types, each with several subtypes. These included - in addition to melancholia and mania - "febrile delirium" (souda a tabee), "manic restlessness" (janoon, "crazy" in modern Arabic), "persecutory psychosis" (kutrib), "lovesickness with anxiety and depression" (ishk), and "disorders of judgment" (haziyan), one subtype of which resembled our modern conception of antisocial personality. Unhammad also described a condition he called murrae souda, characterized by worrying and doubting along with obsessions and compulsions. (36)
c. 1000Administering laxatives to the mentally ill on the assumption that toxins bottled up in the colon were making them insane, reached back to the Middle Ages and before. (31)
1003An interesting account of an acute fear reaction which produced debilitating symptoms that made further military action impossible is found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which recounts a battle in 1003 between English and Danish armies. The English commander, Aelfric, leading his men toward the enemy, suddenly became violently ill and began to vomit. He was so sick that he couldn't continue and the Danes easily routed their adversaries. (30)
c. 1200the Crusaders fought a band of Moslem warriors known as "hashshashin," so called because they used hashish prior to battle to reduce fear and control pain. (30)
1500Frenchman Jean Gerson wrote of "six basic passions" as early as 1500. These consisted of three "good" and three "bad" emotions: love-lust-desire, and sorrow-hatred-anxiety (inquietudo, defined as "fleeing that which is hateful"). (36)
c. 1530the Spanish conquistador Juan Pizarro encountered Inca warriors who increased their endurance and resistance to fear and pain by chewing on the coca leaf, from which cocaine is derived. (30)
1538the famed Spanish philosopher Juan Luis Vives (1492 - 1540). ... Vive's most influential treatise was the De Anima et Vita [On the Soul and Life] (1538). ... The first section of De Anima is devoted to a description of the five senses; the second, to general mental functions; the third, to affects. ... Book 3 dealt with the emotions, which he divided into three groups. Among the positive emotions were love, lust or desire (cupiditas has both connotations), good will, veneration, sympathy/pity, joy (gaudium), and pleasure (laetitia). The negative emotions included displeasure, contempt, anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, indignation, vengeance (ultio), and cruelty. Finally, Vives identified a third group, which included sadness, tearfulness, fear, hope, shame and pride (superbia connotes the negative aspect of pride, arrogance, rather than the positive aspect). (36)
Anxiety-Panic History