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In search of black bile

  • Brian E Leonard (a1)


Historically Western medicine has been divided into two main schools that were based on the ancient Greek tradition. These are the Hygeian school, based on the views of Hippocrates (born 460 BC), and the Asclepian school which is named after the Greek god of medicine but probably based on the physician Asclepius who was said to have performed miracles!

In brief, the Hygeian school of medicine views health as a natural state of the body. The body is believed to be endowed with inherent healing powers which, if one lives in harmony with these powers, maintains health and helps to restore it should it become impaired. Disease is seen as a manifestation of a weakness of the inherent healing powers of the body and the function of the physician is to help the patients to live within the natural law (vis medicatrix naturae) and to remove impediments to those mechanisms that maintain and restore health.

The second school that has profoundly influenced the development of modern medicine is the Asclepian school which arose in about 1200 BC around the teaching of Asclepius. This school focuses on diseases, their causes and cures. Each disease is considered to be the effect of, or response to, a specific cause that primarily affects a specific organ system. For every disease it is postulated that there is a specific drug or procedure which can alleviate the symptoms or cure the disease. Thus, the successful physician is the one who can make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the correct therapy.



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Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0790-9667
  • EISSN: 2051-6967
  • URL: /core/journals/irish-journal-of-psychological-medicine
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