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Care of the Psyche

Care of the Psyche: A History of Psychological Healing

Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    Care of the Psyche
    Book Description:

    In this book, a distinguished historian of medicine surveys the basic elements that have constituted psychological healing over the centuries. Dr. Stanley W. Jackson shows that healing practices, whether they come from the worlds of medicine, religion, or philosophy, share certain elements that transcend space and time.Drawing on medical writings from classical Greece and Rome to the present, as well as on philosophical and religious writings, Dr. Jackson shows that the basic ingredients of psychological healing-which have survived changes of name, the fall of their theoretical contexts, and the waning of social support in different historical eras-are essential factors in our modern psychotherapies and in healing contexts in general.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14733-9
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Part 1 Introductory Considerations

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-15)

      Several decades of study and teaching in the history of medicine have left me significantly impressed by the recurrent indications of psychological healing endeavors over many centuries. And many years as a practitioner and teacher of psychotherapy have sensitized me to the problems inherent in comparing and contrasting the various approaches to psychotherapy. Why were there such suggestive similarities betweenthisapproach andthatapproach, and yet why did they still seem so different?

      This book grew out of the realization that the similarities between approaches stemmed from shared ingredients and that the differences largely derived from different approaches composed...

    • 2 Psychological Healing in Ancient Greece and Rome
      (pp. 16-34)

      Three types of healing in the ancient world have often been differentiated—magical, religious, and empirico-rational—and these three have frequently been noted to have been inextricably interwoven with one another. Each type has had associated with it a particular type of healer—the sorcerermagician, the priest, and the physician, respectively. Not infrequently, two or more of these roles were interwoven and vested in a single person.

      The ancients believed the world to be inhabited by demons, spirits, evil forces, and gods who were potentially malevolent or potentially benevolent factors in the life of a person and a culture. And...

  5. Part 2 The Bedrock

    • 3 The Healer-Sufferer Relationship
      (pp. 37-78)

      The ultimate basis for the practice of medicine, or healing by any other name, is the suffering of the patients and their explicit or implicit calls for help. Thus it is reasonable to assert that the primary function of a healer is to ease a patient’s suffering, while striving to cure a disease or ameliorate its effects. And the healer-sufferer relationship has long been recognized as a crucial factor in healing—for better or for worse, depending on the extent to which it has been characterized by trust and confidence on the sufferer’s part and a concerned, sympathetic, and humane...

    • 4 The Listening Healer
      (pp. 79-97)

      Among other things, a healer is commonly a person to whom a sufferer tells things; and, out of his listening, the healer develops the basis for his therapeutic interventions. The psychological healer, in particular, is one who listens in order to learn and to understand; and, from the fruits of this listening, he or she develops the basis for reassuring, advising, consoling, comforting, interpreting, explaining, or otherwise intervening.

      One author—an authority on communication—has said: “To be human is to speak. To be abundantly human is to speak freely and fully. The converse of this is a profound truth,...

    • 5 The Talking Cures
      (pp. 98-114)

      In psychological healing, as in much of human interaction in general,talkingis of the essence. It is one of psychological healing’s basic elements, serving the sufferer in conveying vital information about his or her ailments and general state to the healer and playing a crucial role in most of the healer’s therapeutic interactions.

      The termtalking curehas been passed down to us from its original use in the 1880s by Bertha Pappenheim, the patient known as Anna O., through Josef Breuer’s account of her cathartic therapy which will be discussed later in this chapter. This term has become...

  6. Part 3 Expressiveness and Getting Things Out

    • 6 Catharsis and Abreaction
      (pp. 117-142)

      The termcatharsiswas derived from the Greekkatharsis,meaning purification, fromkathairein,meaning to cleanse or purify. In the original edition of theOxford English Dictionaryin 1893, it was defined as “purgation of the excrements of the body; esp. evacuation of the bowels.” In addition to this meaning, the adjectivecatharticwas given a second, more general, meaning of “cleansing, purifying, purging.”¹ By the time theOED Supplementwas published in 1933, the meanings ofcatharsishad been extended to include (1) “the purification of the emotions by vicarious experience, esp. through the drama (in reference to Aristotle’s...

    • 7 Confession and Confiding
      (pp. 143-162)

      The termconfessionis defined as “the disclosing of something the knowledge of which by others is considered humiliating or prejudicial to the person confessing: a making known or acknowledging of one’s fault, wrong, crime, weakness, etc.” Although this definition encompasses matters of special importance in the traditions of both law and religion, it is the religious association that is relevant to the history of psychological healing. In that tradition, it has been considered “a religious act: the acknowledging of sin or sinfulness.” More specifically, it became “auricular confession”: that is, “addressed to the ear; told privately in the ear.”¹...

  7. Part 4 Bringing Comfort

    • 8 Consolation and Comfort
      (pp. 165-198)

      Consolation—“the act of consoling, cheering, or comforting... alleviation of sorrow or mental distress”¹—would seem to be one of the oldest among the modes of psychological healing. With its verb,to console,defined as “to comfort in mental distress or depression; to alleviate the sorrow of (any one); ‘to free from the sense of misery,’ ” we are discussing a rich tradition of ministering to troubled persons. Distress in response to misfortune has been part of the human story since time immemorial. And one’s fellows’ inclination to respond to that distress with some effort to comfort or console seems...

  8. Part 5 Healing and the Principle of Contraries

    • 9 The Use of the Passions
      (pp. 201-220)

      This chapter is concerned with the instrumental use of the passions as agents to bring about the cure or amelioration of a disease. For many centuries this entailed inducing a passion to counter another passion that was thought to be an integral feature of the disease. Two versions of such therapeutic interventions were scattered through the centuries of medical literature and were to become particularly well known during the Renaissance. One was the displacing of the disturbing passion by inducing another passion. The other was the inducing of a passion opposite to the disturbing one in order to restore a...

    • 10 The Use of the Imagination
      (pp. 221-236)

      The imagination served for many centuries as a key element in certain modes of psychological healing of insane and otherwise severely troubled persons. Often enough, this role was extended to a broader range of ailments in a way reminiscent of a modern psychosomatic orientation. Considerable evidence indicates that healing images have been commonly used in shamanistic healing practices across a wide range of cultures¹ and in healing endeavors associated with many religious traditions—in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Far Eastern religions.² And as the background to their place in Western psychological therapeutics, the imagination and its images have a long...

  9. Part 6 Bringing Influence to Bear

    • 11 Animal Magnetism, Mesmerism, and Hypnosis
      (pp. 239-263)

      In the 1770s, certain activities of Franz Anton Mesmer initiated the development of a complex of healing activities that came to be known as animal magnetism or mesmerism and that eventually evolved into hypnosis. Swiss born, Mesmer earned doctoral degrees in both philosophy and medicine, the latter in Vienna in 1766, where he then settled and practiced medicine.

      During 1773–1774, Mesmer “undertook in my house the treatment of a young lady aged twenty-nine named Oesterline, who for several years had been subject to a convulsive malady, the most troublesome symptoms of which were that the blood rushed to her...

    • 12 Suggestion
      (pp. 264-286)

      As noted in the chapter on mesmerism and hypnotism, the language we associate with healing through suggestion did not emerge until the latter part of the nineteenth century. In the wake of Bernheim’ssuggestive therapeuticsin the 1880s, suggestion became a recognized element in psychological healing and has continued as such ever since. To some degree, though, this is misleading, as suggestive influences in healing long antedated the mesmerism and hypnotism out of which suggestion seemed to emerge.

      The history of healing is replete with ways in which, directly or indirectly, healers have suggested to sufferers that ingesting a particular...

    • 13 Persuasion
      (pp. 287-307)

      Persuasion is another element in psychological healing that has a long and significant history. With the emergence of the “persuasionists” as significant among the psychotherapeutists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it has seemed to some that persuasion was primarily a mode of psychological treatment that had arisen as a challenge to the “suggestionists” of the day. But persuasion as a method long antedated the mesmerists, the hypnotists, and those who practiced suggestive therapeutics. Like suggestion, persuasion was far from a latter-day addition to psychological healing.

      And what is persuasion in the first place? TheOxford English Dictionary...

    • 14 Conditioning and Reward or Punishment
      (pp. 308-322)

      “Learning is the process by which an activity originates or is changed through reacting to an encountered situation, provided that the characteristics of the change in activity cannot be explained on the basis of native response tendencies, maturation, or temporary states of the organism (e.g., fatigue, drugs, etc.).”¹ Among the many theories of learning, one of the most prominent—and widely used as a basis for therapeutic techniques—has been that based on conditioning principles. In addition to its prominent place in animal studies on learning, conditioning is a particularly significant mode of human learning and an integral factor in...

  10. Part 7 Cognitive Themes

    • 15 Explanation and Interpretation
      (pp. 325-341)

      Among the meanings ofinterpretationin the English language two definitional traditions are of particular importance for our purposes: one relating explanation or the act of explaining, and the other to translation or the act translating. Further, interpretation is the act of offering meaning, signification, or understanding—or the meaning, signification, or understanding offered—whether to another or to oneself.

      Among twentieth-century psychotherapists, interpretation has involved the description, explanation, or formulation of the meaning or significance of a patient’s communications, usually by the psychotherapist, but often enough the patient. It has included the explanation of what is obscure and unclear...

    • 16 Self-Understanding and Insight
      (pp. 342-364)

      The wordinsighthas its roots in the idea of “internal sight,” that is, perceiving “with the eyes of the mind or understanding.” It originally entailed “the notion of penetrating into things or seeing beneath their surface with the eyes of the understanding.” TheOxford English Dictionarydefines it as follows:

      1. Internal sight, mental vision or perception, discernment; in early use sometimes, Understanding, intelligence, wisdom.

      2. The fact of penetrating with the eyes of the understanding into the inner character or hidden nature of things; a glimpse or view beneath the surface; the faculty or power of thus seeing.¹...

    • 17 Self-Observation and Introspection
      (pp. 365-380)

      Like so many of the elements considered in this work, self-observation is no new thing. Variously referred to as inward perception, looking inward, self-scrutiny, self-examination, self-inspection, introspection, reflection, the activity of the inner sense, and so forth, it has been an activity of humankind for a very long time.

      Human beings have long observed the operations of their own minds or inspected the flow of their own mental events, whether in an effort to know more about themselves or for the grander purpose of increasing their knowledge of “mind.” The mental activities that came to be known as consciousness—sensations,...

  11. Part 8 Concluding Considerations

    • 18 Overview and Afterthoughts
      (pp. 383-392)

      Much has been made of the culture-bound nature of certain psychological healing practices, on the grounds that they are not easily transferable to another cultural setting, not easily understood by healers in another culture, and not easily compared with its healing practices. The same problems have also been raised in the “cross-cultural” situation of various subcultures within the same larger society; each subculture’s healing practices may well differ in that they cohere around alternative ethnic customs, religious beliefs, or medical views. Similar difficulties can easily arise if one compares psychological healing practices over time. Cultural influences have admittedly shaped practices...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 393-460)
  13. References
    (pp. 461-496)
  14. Index
    (pp. 497-504)