Searching for schizophrenia in ancient Greek and Roman literature: a systematic review
Article first published online: 12 MAY 2003
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume 107, Issue 5, pages 323–330, May 2003
How to Cite
Evans, K., McGrath, J. and Milns, R. (2003), Searching for schizophrenia in ancient Greek and Roman literature: a systematic review. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 107: 323–330. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0447.2003.00053.x
- Issue published online: 12 MAY 2003
- Article first published online: 12 MAY 2003
- Accepted for publication October 16, 2002
- history of medicine;
- Greek world;
- Roman world;
- mental disorders
Objective: The aim of this study was to systematically examine ancient Roman and Greek texts to identify descriptions of schizophrenia and related disorders.
Method: Material from Greek and Roman literature dating from the 5th Century BC to the beginning of the 2nd Century AD was systematically reviewed for symptoms of mental illness. DSM IV criteria were applied in order to identify material related to schizophrenia and related disorders.
Results: The general public had an awareness of psychotic disorders, because the symptoms were described in works of fiction and in historical accounts of malingering. There were isolated instances of text related to psychotic symptoms in the residents of ancient Rome and Greece, but no written material describing a condition that would meet modern diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia.
Conclusion: In contrast to many other psychiatric disorders that are represented in ancient Greek and Roman literature, there were no descriptions of individuals with schizophrenia in the material assessed in this review.