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July 1973

Psychotherapeutic Treatment for Rheumatoid ArthritisOne Thousand Years Ago

Author Affiliations

Ann Arbor, Mich
From the Children's Psychiatric Hospital, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(1):85-87. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200010062011

Razi, a Persian physician, treated a patient suffering from rheumatoid arthritis with a direct psychotherapeutic technique more than 1,000 years ago. He related the patient's arthritic condition to his inability to experience and express aggression. Razi's theoretical understanding was in accord with today's psychodynamic formulation of rheumatoid arthritis.

Razi approached his patient through a psychotherapeutic encounter. He created a situation in which the patient had to use his internal resources to cope with his somatization of instinctual anger. He confronted the patient with a threatening situation that helped him to unleash and liberate his internal anger and hostility. This dramatic therapeutic encounter helped the patient realize the destructive forces within himself and encouraged him to experience and express these aggressive feelings directly. It resulted in freedom from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.