0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

1
Images in Psychiatry   |    
On Sorrow: Medical Advice From Ishaq ben Sulayman al-Israeli 1,000 Years Ago
Carlos E. Sluzki, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2010;167:508-508. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09091371
View Author and Article Information

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Sluzki, Department of Global and Community Health, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, MS 5D7, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030; csluzki@gmu.edu (e-mail). Image accepted for publication November 2009.

Accepted November , 2009.

Copyright © American Psychiatric Association

In the 1920s a scholarly Augustine monk discovered the only known translation into (medieval) Spanish of Ishaq ben Sulayman al-Israeli's Treatise of Fevers (1), which was mandatory reading in European universities throughout the Middle Ages (2, 3). This book, written originally in Arabic in the 11th century, is part of the large oeuvre of one of the most influential physicians and philosophers of the golden period of Arab medicine, contemporaneous and occasional interlocutor of the other great Jewish physician of his time, Moses Maimonides.

Chapter XI of the second book of the Treatise of Fevers, titled "Treatise on the ephemeral fever that derives from reasons of sorrow" (1, pp. 53—55), contains a foray of al-Israeli into the field of psychopathology. In it he differentiates sadness, "lodged in reason" and characterized by lethargy, from sorrow, "lodged in emotions" and characterized by agitation and lack of appetite—a distinction that fits what we would currently call "psychomotor retardation" and "psychomotor agitation." The chapter closes with a set of therapeutic recommendations (translated from medieval Spanish by the author):

It is necessary that we start...finding ingenious ways of eliminating suspicions, and caring for the soul...with many types of musical songs...and all those things that bring joy and would help to forget the sadness....

Aristotle states that the sickness of the soul follows the sickness of the body, and the sickness of the body follows and accompanies that of the soul.... It is therefore useful for physicians not to forget to help the body, providing it with things that are humid and keep the organism in a lukewarm temperature. And avoid specifically drying food,…offer lukewarm sitting baths, and afterward rub them with violet's oil. And then they may eat food that is cold and humid and of easy digestion,…and a good young wine mixed with water.

In sum, al-Israeli espoused an integrative mind-body approach: supportive therapy, a therapeutic milieu that includes music, warm baths and massage, easily digestible food, and light alcoholic beverages. Overall, his therapeutic approach is, alas, much gentler—and probably more effective—than the sometimes violent approaches that were standard practice for many centuries after al-Israeli, both in Europe and in the United States, before the advent of talking therapies and, later, of the psychopharmacological revolution.

Israeli  I:  Tratado de las Fiebres: Edicion de la Versión Castellana y Estudio por el P Jose Llamas, OSA .  Madrid-Barcelona,  Instituto Arias Montano de Estudios Hebraicos y Oriente Proximo, 1945
 
Osler  W:  The Principles and Practice of Medicine: Designed for the Use of Practitioners and Students of Medicine, 12th ed .  London,  D Appleton, 1914
 
Veit  R:  Das Buch der Fieber des Isaac Israeli und seine Bedeutung im lateinischen Westen: Ein Beitrag zur Rezeption arabischer Wissenschaft im Abendland .  Stuttgart, Germany,  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2003
 
References Container
+

References

Israeli  I:  Tratado de las Fiebres: Edicion de la Versión Castellana y Estudio por el P Jose Llamas, OSA .  Madrid-Barcelona,  Instituto Arias Montano de Estudios Hebraicos y Oriente Proximo, 1945
 
Osler  W:  The Principles and Practice of Medicine: Designed for the Use of Practitioners and Students of Medicine, 12th ed .  London,  D Appleton, 1914
 
Veit  R:  Das Buch der Fieber des Isaac Israeli und seine Bedeutung im lateinischen Westen: Ein Beitrag zur Rezeption arabischer Wissenschaft im Abendland .  Stuttgart, Germany,  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2003
 
References Container
+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Related Content
Articles
Books
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4th Edition > Chapter 21.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4th Edition > Chapter 21.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 22.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 22.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 33.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
PubMed Articles
What causes grief in dementia caregivers? Arch Gerontol Geriatr Published online Jun 26, 2014.;