To ancient Egyptians, a mishap of the functioning of the body and soul was the cause of abnormality and, therefore, recommended treatment through healing rituals, sleep therapy, and interpretation of dreams among others. On the other hand, the ancient Greeks used music therapy as a way to calm the individual (Comer, 2013, 148). Nevertheless, the ancient societies still attached abnormal behaviour with the spirits and gods as demonstrated by the belief that hallucinations had a unique linkage to the gods among the Greeks. The middle ages presented a mix of perception about abnormality with emphasis on the religious and supernatural believes.
Religious foundations on mental illness argued that disorders have demonic origins even as other sections believed in the relationship between mental illnesses and psychological problems. Due to the recognition of psychological disorders as a course of mental illnesses, some religious institutions adopted the role of taking care of the patients until the 19th century. Sentiments on the ability of prayer and strengthening of religious beliefs of the patients as a method of treatment emerged in the 17th century and are also a component of the religious beliefs in the 21st century (Burton, 2012). Mass madness in the 13th century presented a gradual change in the perception on abnormality as it affected large number of people simultaneously.
Mass madness led to the emergence in the belief of supernatural powers beginning with several regions in Italy. The mass madness or hysteria has similar effects on the victims that included the dancing mania where people danced until they fell of exhaustion; the major problem that discredited the validity of scientific approaches was the fact that there were no mentionable physical causes.
Tarantism was also a key indicator of the mass madness as individuals engaged in jumping and laughing in the market places and streets (Balaratnasingam & Janca, 2006, 172). The madness spread to other parts of Europe with similar characteristics. The fear related to the Black Death that reduced the population to a third, social unrest and famine were the probable causes of the mass madness. The beliefs about witchcraft intensified in the years between the 15th and 17th century where execution of suspected witches became very common.
Suspected witches underwent torture to obtain confessions; many victims confessed as a way to avoid prolonged agony. Witch hunts began and, as a result, many
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