Nancy Gish wrote:
> It was not in the dark ages at all. French psychologists had for the last
> century studied what they called "hysteria."
This could get complicated and lead us far afield -- but (among a number
of other things) it is precisely "hysteria" as a psychiatric diagnosis
that leads me to characterize 1920 as "still in the dark ages." Even the
psychiatric categories in current use are (probably) only temporary
place-holders for various (usually vaguely defined) "bunches of
symptoms" that as yet are not really understood. "Depression," for
example, may be no more specific a diagnosis than "cancer." This is
certainly true of PTSD, which can be seen as sort of an arrow pointing
in the direction of research needing to be done.
Migraine was described and named by the ancient Greeks, but it was only
in the last 5 years or so that they discovered a major feature of it. It
had been assumed that it was a vascular headache. It is that; but it
also involves the release of a painful chemical by the nerves. That is
one of the reason painkillers taken after the onset of migraine are
Incidentally, an extraordinarily fascinating book, written by a
classical scholar who is also a practicing psychiatrist (or a practicing
psychiatrist who is also a classical scholar) is Jonathan Shay,
_Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character_ (New
York: Atheneum, 1994). Shay runs a clinic for Vietnam veterans. He
describes Achilles as exhibiting the symptoms of one form of PTSD.