October 1973

The Development of Psychiatric Concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Hawaii School of Medicine, Honolulu.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(4):569-575. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200040109018

The development of psychiatric conceptualization in traditional Chinese medicine is traced by reviewing the descriptions of psychiatric maladies appearing in Chinese medical documents of various periods. The theory of mental illness has gone through a sequence of supernatural, natural, somatic, and psychological stages. Psychiatric illness has been recognized in medical literature in the following order: organic mental illness, excited psychosis, hysteria, depression, and minor psychiatric illness. This is discussed in comparison with the development of psychiatric concepts in the West in an attempt to understand how the perception and interpretation of mental illness, associated with the increase of man's knowledge, have changed and developed through time in different sociocultural environments.