In this block of podcasts I’m going to look again at the language used to describe mental problems, the ways lay and professional people identified them in the past, and the possible confusions that lie in wait for us in history, when both culture and the material world were very different from the present day. Nowadays we are faced with a sometimes bewildering array of mental conditions and syndromes. By contrast, medical classifications in the past were often remarkably basic. The spectrum of mental illness could be encompassed by just two words: mania and melancholy.
Image: L0018945 Female melancholic, 1869, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/