What Was Schizophrenia Called During Ancient Times?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, and behave clearly. It is a complex condition that is still not fully understood today, but it has been recognized as a distinct illness for centuries.

However, what was schizophrenia called during ancient times? Let’s take a look.

Ancient Conceptions of Schizophrenia

The concept of schizophrenia as we know it today did not exist in ancient times. However, there were various descriptions of mental illnesses that were similar to what we now know as schizophrenia. In fact, many ancient cultures believed that mental illness was caused by supernatural forces or divine punishment.

Ancient Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, mental illnesses were often attributed to the gods. For example, the Greek god Apollo was believed to cause delusions and hallucinations in people who angered him. Similarly, in Roman mythology, the goddess Fides was thought to cause madness in those who betrayed her trust.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, mental illness was often viewed through a religious lens. Many people believed that those who suffered from mental illness were possessed by demons or other evil spirits. Exorcism was a common treatment for such individuals.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance saw some progress in the understanding of mental illness. The Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro recognized that some people experienced hallucinations and delusions without any apparent physical cause. He referred to this condition as “folie lucide,” which translates to “clear madness.”


In conclusion, while the concept of schizophrenia did not exist during ancient times, there were various descriptions of mental illnesses that were similar to it. These descriptions varied from culture to culture and often reflected their beliefs about the causes of mental illness. Today, we have a better understanding of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and we continue to work towards better treatments and greater understanding of these complex conditions.

  • Ancient Greece and Rome: Mental illnesses attributed to gods
  • The Middle Ages: Mental illness viewed through a religious lens
  • The Renaissance: Some recognition of mental illness without physical cause


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525088/
  • https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/history-schizophrenia