From the ideological crucible of the Reformation emerged an embittered contest for the human soul. In the care of souls, the clergy zealously dispensed spiritual physic; for countless early modern Europeans, the first echelon of mental health care. During its heyday, spiritual physic touched the lives of thousands, from penitents and pilgrims to demoniacs and mad people. Ironically, the phenomenon remains largely unexplored. Why? Through case histories from among the records of over 1,000 troubled and desperate individuals, this regional study of Bavaria investigates spiritual physic as a popular ritual practice during a tumultuous era of religious strife, material crises, moral repression and witch hunting. By the mid-seventeenth century, secular forces ushered in a psychological revolution across Europe. However, spiritual physic ensconced itself by proxy upon emergent bourgeois psychiatry. Today, its remnants raise haunting questions about science and the pursuit of objective knowledge in the ephemeral realm of human consciousness.Read more
- This ambitious book shows the intricate relationship between early modern understanding of madness and religious apprehension of the mind and the body
- A major contribution to our understanding of the history of mental illness, possession, witchcraft, and the early modern state
- Reveals the roots of modern psychiatry and psychology
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Review of the hardback: 'Madness, Religion and the State is a well researched historical study and will henceforth count as a standard work on early modern health care and spiritual physic.' German Historical Institute
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- Date Published: November 2009
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521123631
- length: 384 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.51kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. On the soul
2. Sackcloth and ashes
3. Bavaria Sancta
4. Spiritual afflictions
5. the decline of religious madness
6. confinement and its vicissitudes
7. The legacy of spiritual physic.
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