Neurosis in Society by Andrew Sims (auth.)

By Andrew Sims (auth.)

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For example, both Erasmus and Montaigne were able to approve voluntary The Evolution of an Idea 37 death under certain circumstances. John Donne (1608) in his defence of suicide called 'Biathanatos', wrote, 'Methinks I have the key of my prison in mine own hand, and no remedy presents itself so soone to my heart, as mine own sword'. In TheAnatomy ofMelancholy (1621) Robert Burton stresses the connection between the state of melancholy and suicide. He observes the epidemiological finding in depression; 'Tis a common calamity, a fatal end to this disease, they are condemned to a violent death, by a jury of Physicians, curiously disposed, carried headlong by their tyrannizing wills, enforced by miseries ...

Why then are neurotics seen by doctors? Why do the medical profession, and other health professions (nursing, social work, clinical psychology), concern themselves with the management of neurosis? Professor Eysenck (1975) in his pamphlet The Future of Psychiatry claimed that there was no future in psychiatry for the treatment of the neuroses. He wrote, 'it seemed desirable and historically justifiable to split psychiatry into two independent parts, one concerned with organic disorders and their treatment, which in turn was largely medical in nature; the other concerned with behavioural disorders and their treatment, which in tum was largely behavioural.

Two, more fundamental, ideas for a theory of neurosis were described by Walker (1796), who was a minister of religion and a physician. He stressed howpsychological factors may cause disease and also the importance of obtaining a detailed account of psychological aspects in the history. Following introduction of the term by Heinroth, in 1818, psychosomatic ideas have been discussed; for example, Fletcher (1833), was concerned with 'the influence of the mind on the body'. In causing symptoms of illness, 'the brain transmits the messages from the mind which dictates its operations'.

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