Caring for the Living Soul

Emotions, Medicine and Penance in the Late Medieval Mediterranean


Caring for the Living Soul identifies the fundamental role emotions played in the development of learned medicine and in the formation of the social role of the "physicians of the body" in the western Mediterranean between 1200 and 1500. The book explores theoretical debates and practical advice concerning the treatment of the "accidentia anime" in diverse medical sources. Contextualizing this literature within the developments in natural philosophy and pastoral theology during the period, and alongside local and social contexts of medical practice, emotions are revealed to have been a malleable topic through which change and innovation in the field of medicine transpired. Bringing together a wide range of untapped sources and creating connections between emotions, religious authorities, and medical practitioners, this study sheds light on the centrality of the discourses of emotions to the formation of the social fabric.

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Naama Cohen-Hanegbi, Ph.D. (2011), a lecturer in medieval history at Tel Aviv University, has published articles on emotions in medieval medicine and on Juan d'Aviñón's medical works. Together with Piroska Nagy she has edited The Medieval Book of Pleasure (Brepols, forthcoming).
'' Caring for the Living Soul is essential reading for scholars interested in the premodern history of medicine, religion, emotional life, and the body. By surveying, over the course of nearly three hundred years, a wide range of texts in Latin and the vernacular, the book demonstrates the co-generation of European categories of medicine and religion, intertwined as they were by a body model premised on its susceptibility to immaterial forces. Treating such an unbounded body caused concern and questioning. If taken as seriously as it merits, the book will reframe our understanding of what behaviors count as medical practice, of what forces constitute threats to health, and of which people we identify as medical practitioners. Although the book does not explore the particularities of these questions, it exposes the intellectual assumptions that stir them and opens a vital new terrain for historians to explore. Caring for the Living Soul makes a convincing case that we are simply not getting it right about late medieval approaches to health care if we are not including theological and pastoral beliefs and their associated spiritual practices within our histories of medicine,the body, and care giving''. - Sara Ritchey, in: The American Historical Review 124/2 (2019)

"In a substantial work emerging out of her dissertation and a postdoctoral affiliation with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Naama Cohen-Hanegbi traces the cognitive, natural-philosophical, and theological shifts at the core of late medieval understandings of the intrinsic relationships between human emotions, the body, and the soul, and what that meant for the care and treatment of each. As her title suggests, that tending of the emotions was particularly important in the work of priests and physicians: throughout the book, she addresses the carefully negotiated disciplinary boundaries between these occupations and important points of overlap or exclusion in their approaches. Geographically, she is focused on and gives a detailed account of theoretical and practical texts from Castile and Northern Italy, which bear clear influences from standard classical sources and their later commentaries as well as from medical education emanating from the university milieux of Montpellier, Salamanca, and Northern Italy.[...] All together, Cohen-Hanegbi presents a thought-provoking study". Marlene L. Eberhart, in Renaissance Quarterly, 73 (1), pp. 258-259.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1 Accidents, Passions, Habits, and Sins 2 Between and within Body and Soul 3 Treating Emotions 4 Passiones del Alma—Castile, c. 1380 5 Mourning and Melancholy and the Boundaries of Sorrow in 15th-Century Italy Conclusion Bibliography Index
Caring for the Living Soul converses with scholars of history of emotions, pre-modern medicine, and healthcare, opening new routes to consider the intellectual culture within the western Mediterranean setting.