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SPAIN AS THE CRADLE OF PSYCHIATRY
PETER BASSOE
Am J Psychiatry 1945;101:731-738.
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Rush Professor Emeritus of Neurology in the University of Illinois Neurologist to the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago

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Abstract

Was Spain a "cradle of psychiatry"? She certainly was not the mother of psychiatry for that honor belongs to Greece. In the middle ages she stressed charity in her Christianity, and for some centuries both the Christians and Mohammedans showed remarkable tolerance. The Moors gave to Jews as much freedom as to Christians. Some of the churches were used by Mohammedans on Friday, Jews on Saturday, and Christians on Sunday. On account of the relative isolation from the rest of Europe Greek and Roman traditions were maintained and strongly reenforced by the same traditions brought by the Arabs, and still more by the oncoming renaissance. Spain was relatively prosperous and powerful as well, and all these factors helped to bring about the remarkable attention given to the insane in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Spain truly was the cradle of psychiatry but she later neglected the infant, and in the following centuries she actually fell behind other countries. With the advent of the inquisition and the hunt for heretics charity was largely lost sight of, and, as usual, the insane were the first to be neglected. During the bitter warfare between Christians and Moors, the latter also became fanatic and more intolerant. On account of the intellectual isolation of Spain, on which all historians agree, it is not likely that the "cradling" of psychiatry in Spain did much to further better care of the insane in the rest of Europe. It was probably known to very few until Pinel visited Spain at the time of Napoleon.

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