Question 29 - Verbal Practice Test for the NLN PAX

According to the provided passage, who is Hippocrates?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects the mental stability and well-being of millions of people around the world. But has the outlook on this disorder changed over time? In order to fully grasp the nature of schizophrenia, it is important to understand its history and how understanding of the illness has evolved and changed over time.

The history of schizophrenia dates back thousands of years. In ancient times, people did not have a scientific understanding of mental disorders, especially those involving hallucinations or “hearing voices”. Instead, they relied on religious and supernatural explanations. For example, in ancient Egypt, schizophrenia was believed to be caused by the influence of evil spirits or gods. Since the Egyptians were unable to understand the complexities of the brain due to a lack of technology, their treatments were focused on getting rid of the poisons of the gods from the patient’s heart.

Similar beliefs were held in ancient Greece, where mental illnesses were often seen as a punishment from the gods after wrongdoing. Hippocrates, Greek father of medicine, believed the symptoms of schizophrenia stemmed from an imbalance in heart and soul.

This confusion and misunderstanding continued throughout the Middle Ages, but the blame moved from gods and spirits to the devil and witches. Although some sources from the Middle Ages state the symptoms came from overconsumption of alcohol or overwhelming grief, the majority of the population blamed demonic possession, leading to wrongful exorcisms on people struggling with the illness.

It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that a deeper, and more accepting, understanding of schizophrenia began to emerge. In 1887, German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin introduced the term “dementia praecox” to describe a group of symptoms that we now recognize as schizophrenia. Kraepelin’s work laid the foundation for future research and diagnosis of the disorder.

Finally, in 1900, the term “schizophrenia” was coined by Eugene Blueler. However, the treatments remained more harmful than helpful.

In the 1950s, a major breakthrough occurred with the introduction of medications geared toward mental illness. These medications helped alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia and provided a more ethical form of treatment.

Today, our understanding of schizophrenia has greatly improved. We now know that it is a complex disorder with both genetic and environmental factors at play. Research continues to uncover more about the disorder, with the hope of developing more targeted and personalized treatments.

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