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In: Galen's Treatise Περὶ Ἀλυπίας (De indolentia) in Context
In: Galen's Treatise Περὶ Ἀλυπίας (De indolentia) in Context
In: Galen's Treatise Περὶ Ἀλυπίας (De indolentia) in Context
In: Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine
In: Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine
Author: P. N. Singer

Abstract

The chapter attempts to analyse what can sensibly be understood by the term ‘holism’, which is very frequently used in relation to ancient medicine. It identifies three fundamental senses of the term – (1) unity of mind and body, (2) a unitary conception of the body itself, (3) unity of the body with its larger environment or cosmos – and considers ways in which both ancient medical theory and ancient diagnostic and clinical practice do or do not correspond with those conceptions. The paper focuses on Galen, but also contextualizes his approach within the Graeco-Roman medical and philosophical tradition, and compares it with others available in the ancient world, including those of Celsus and the Methodists. It is argued that a complex and nuanced picture emerges, within which, however, attention to overall states of the body tends to predominate over localization, and there are intricate accounts of the mutual dependence of ‘soul’ and ‘body.’

Open Access
In: Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception
In: Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine
In: Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine
In: Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine