Major University Affiliations: Asklepieion of Cos; and the Thracian Physian Herodicus of Selymbria. Historical Context: Hippocrates lived in an era called the Classical Period of ancient Greek history which was from around 500 to 336 BC. This was a period of great political and cultural advancement for Greece as it saw the development of a democratic system of government and the creation of philosophical schools on the intellectual front.
The early part from 461 to 429 was a time of Greek prosperity, under the rule of repeat elected statesman Pericles, called “the Golden Age” or the “Age of Pericles”. This was a time that visionary arts, literature, grandeur architecture, education and culture were venerated in Greece. Gods were worshiped, honoured, celebrated and thought to be the reason for victory in war, the answer to ill health, the cause of good health and the ones responsible for disease as a result of their displeasure with an individual.
Hippocrates’ Major Thoughts and Ideas in the Historical Context in which they Occur: Hippocrates single most important thought and idea was his conclusions that all disorders both mental and physical were as a result of natural factors like inherited susceptibility to disease, organic injury, and an imbalance in bodily fluids, which at the time both disease and medical practices were purely based on the occult, superstition, beliefs, magic, supernatural forces and as a result of being in favour or not being in favour with the gods.
He also thought that humans comprise of the four elements; earth which was represented by black bile, air which was represented by yellow bile, fire which was represented by blood and water which was represented by phlegm. He associated an imbalance in these elements with the cause of illness, while the proper balance of them equated in being healthy. He also thought that the body had the ability to heal itself naturally and the doctor was responsible for facilitating this process focusing on treating the whole individual patient and not the disease while cures included rest, proper diet, exercise, fresh air, massage and baths.
He also thought that physicians should not charge patients who could not afford to pay. Hippocrates had these thoughts and ideas back in a time when such was unheard of as people heavily relied on magic, the occult and believed that being in favour with the gods as a result of the gods being pleased with the celebrations and ceremonies performed in their honour. He separated the works of a doctor from that of a priest in a time when it was thought to be one of the same.
He thought that through observation of the patient and his ailment and recording the symptoms he could systematically help treat the patient. The Relation of Hippocrates Thoughts and Ideas to the Development of Psychology: Hippocrates was the first of his time to posit that thoughts, ideas and feelings all come from the brain and not the heart as believed in his time. He also believed in treating the whole being not just the disease.
He was of the belief that all pleasure came from the brain and that it was the brain that was responsible for human senses and the ability of human beings to distinguish things. He claimed that fear, anxiety, deliriousness and other forms of mental disorders originate in the brain as a result of an imbalance of the elements, hot, cold, moist and dry and therefore this imbalance determines a person’s mental capacity and balancing out the imbalance would effectively treat the patient.
Hippocrates also identified mental illnesses such as hysteria which he believed to be a disease caused by a wandering uterus, although it was refuted, it presented a biological explanation for mental illness. Hippocrates theory of the elements was later further developed by Galen into one of the first theories of personality. My Reasons for Choosing Hippocrates: I chose Hippocrates because his contributions revolutionized the way we look at medicine, psychology and disease. His take on health is still very relevant to today’s treatments.
I am of the belief that his contributions made it possible for psychotherapy, homeopathic treatments and other alternative healthcare apart from contemporary medicine. Apart from all of this he was instrumental to categorizing disease and use terms such as acute, chronic, endemic, epidemic, exacerbation, relapse, resolution, crisis, paroxysm peak and convalescence. Although some of his concepts may have been disproved, Hippocrates was not afraid to offer a new or different idea from the one that was socially accepted by society.
Hippocrates was not afraid to stand out in the crowd offering an authentic, original idea that was different and therefore challenged the philosophy of the day. His unique idea of treating with the whole person and identifying diseases through observation and documentation set the standards for today’s health care. I was also impressed that a document that he wrote so many years ago in the fourth century BC, the Hippocratic Oath, is still used and very much applicable to today’s society.
I also chose Hippocrates because his early work paved the way for modern medicine and for us to find the cure for so many diseases and to continue to search for a cure for others that we haven’t as yet like that of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS.
His work has influenced me so that I now want to do what I can to contribute to the research on mental disorders, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Reference Adler, R. E. (2004). Medical Firsts from Hippocrates to Human Genome. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009).
An Introduction to the History. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Jouanna, J. (1999). Hippocrates: Medicine and Culture. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press. Trueman, C. (2000).
History of Medicine: Hippocrates. Retrieved from History Learning Site: http://www. historylearningsite. co. uk/hippocrates. htm University of Virginia. (2007). Vaulted Treasures: Hippocrates (460 BCE-ca. 370 BCE). Retrieved from Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library: http://exhibits. hsl. virginia. edu/treasures/hippocrates-460-bce-ca-370-bce/.