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Article
October 17, 1896

THE TREATMENT OF INSANITY EIGHTEEN CENTURIES AGO.

JAMA. 1896;XXVII(16):869-871. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430940039004

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Abstract

Nowhere in science is the truth of Tennyson, that

"The course of time will swerve, Crook and turn upon itself in many a backward streaming curve"

better illustrated than in medicine. All great medical discoveries seem upon the point of being made long ere the culmination of facts places them beyond destruction by inertia and conservatism. Anesthesia, the germ origin of disease, antisepsis and multitudinous "late" discoveries were discernible for centuries in medical works ere the nineteenth century placed them in the rank of commonplace facts. This is peculiarly true of psychiatry, whose essential principles were outlined eighteen centuries ago. Much suffering might have been saved the hapless insane and much misfortune to the medical profession been avoided had these principles then outlined been adopted in the main. According to Soranus (A. D. 95, whose writings are recognized as those of Cælius Aurelianus, his translator), it is useless to examine

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