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10 Bizarre Therapies in Mental Illness Treatment History

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6. Bloodletting and Purging

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Although this treatment gained prominence in the Western world during the 1600s, it actually originated in ancient Greek medicine. The prominent Greek physician Claudius Galen regarded an imbalance of the humors as the source of poor health and physical malady. English physician Thomas Willis later used Galen’s work as a basis for his approach to treating mentally ill patients. He argued that “an internal biochemical relationship was responsible for mental disorders. He believed bleeding, purging, and even vomiting could help correct the humor imbalances and aid in healing physical and mental illness. In addition to mental illness, these treatments were also used to treat various other diseases like diabetes, asthma, cancer, cholera, and smallpox.

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