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It is odd that with the prevalence of mental disorders from time immemorial, the field of psychology should have been so slow in developing. Many references to psychopathology
are found hundreds of years before Christ, in the Bible, in the sacred books of the East and in Greek drama.
The Death of Socrates, 18th century painting by Jacques Louis David. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Socrates (470-399 B.C.) was arguably the greatest mind in antiquity. His maxim "Know thyself" has become a present day mantra. Socrates contribution to psychology was essentially ethical in character. Belief in a purely objective understanding of such concepts as justice, love, virtue, and the self-knowledge that he had inculcated, were the basis of his teaching. He believed that all vice is the result of ignorance, and that no person is willingly bad; correspondondingly, virtue is knowledge, and those who know right will act rightly. Socrates had a major influence on his pupil Plato and Plato's pupil Aristotle. Through the writings of these philosphers Socrates profoundly affected the entire subsequent course of Western speculative psychological thought. Socrates was eventually charged in 399 B.C. with neglecting the gods of the state and introducing new divinities, a reference to daemonion, or "mystical inner voice", to which Socrates often referred. He was also charged with corrupting the morals of the young, leading them away from the current psychosocial and political beliefs. Socrates was sentenced to death. His friends planned his escape from prison, but he preferred to obey the law and die for his cause. His last day was spent with his friends and admirers, as described in Plato's Phaedo,and in the evening he calmly fulfilled his sentence by drinking a cup of hemlock according to a customarry procedure of execution. He left behind his wife Xanthippe, three children and an unmeasurable impact on psychosocial views to come.
Plato (428 - 327 B.C.) and Aristotle (384 -322 B.C.)First recorded detailed discussion of the emotional existenceof man and animals
Nearly 2,500 years ago, in his imperishable Republic, Plato draws a vivid picture of hypocondriasis disorder whose victims, "are always doctoring and increasing and complicating their disorders and always fancying that they will be cured by any nostrum which anybody advises them to try....and the charming thing is that they deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth, which is simply that unless they give up eating and drinking and wenching and idling, neither drug nor cautery, nor any other remedy, will avail." (Jowett's translation)
Plato espoused the less regarded theory that the highest soul was located in the brain. This theory gained popularity among the scientist. Plato's major contribution to psychology is his conception of the soul and its tripartite division: Intuition, which Plato refers to as "the eye of thought" in The Republic. "Logistikon nous", which he equated with the brain, and is by virtue of its rational function, the higher phase. The active emotions "spiritness" resides in the chest. Aristotle placed the soul as the source of thought in the heart, placing him more in line with Biblical teachings. Aristotle wrote the first treatise on psychology, which is usually referred to by the Latin title, De Anima.
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