How Was Mental Health Viewed in Ancient Times?

Mental health has been a topic of concern for centuries, with ancient civilizations having their own views and beliefs about mental illnesses. In this article, we will explore how mental health was viewed in ancient times.

Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, mental illnesses were believed to be caused by supernatural forces such as demons or evil spirits. The treatment for such illnesses involved magic spells and rituals performed by priests who were considered to be the intermediaries between the gods and humans. Mental illness was considered a curse from the gods and was stigmatized in society.

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece is known for its contributions to philosophy, including its views on mental health. One of the most prominent figures in Ancient Greek philosophy, Hippocrates, believed that mental disorders had natural causes rather than supernatural ones.

He classified mental illnesses into three categories: mania, melancholia, and phrenitis (brain fever). Treatment involved a combination of diet, exercise, and medicinal herbs.

Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, mental illnesses were viewed as a sign of weakness and were stigmatized in society. Treatment involved various methods such as bloodletting, purging, and even exorcism. The famous Roman physician Galen believed that mental disorders were caused by an imbalance of bodily fluids or “humors” which needed to be restored through medical treatment.


In conclusion, ancient civilizations had their own unique views and beliefs about mental health. While some believed that it was caused by supernatural forces, others believed that it had natural causes.

Treatment methods also varied greatly depending on the culture and time period. It is important to note that many of these beliefs and practices have been disproven or are no longer used in modern medicine. However, understanding how mental health was viewed in the past can help us appreciate how far we have come in our understanding and treatment of mental illness.