Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Renowned clinical intervention in Medieval Islamic Society

Dr. Taha Baasher recounts the following story in "World History of Psychiatry". The modern reader is reminded that the Abbasid court of Harun al-Rashid (786-809) represented an era that was patriarchal and from the modern perspective, probably sexist. However, the court physician was the most trusted and reputable medical practitioner in the land:

"An often quoted example is the story of Harun el Rashid's maid, who developed what appeared to be a state of hysterical conversion, involving her right upper limb. The maid lifted her hand up and could not bring it down. Massage and other physical treatments were of no avail. Gabriel (Gibreel Ibn Bakkhta Yashue), the court physician, in the presence of the Caliph and his entourage, pinched the maid from behind, and unconsciously the up-lifted arm dropped down. Though the explanation given by Gabriel was based on humor pathology, his therapeutic approach was obviously psychological." (1975, p. 557).

~ Excerpted from "World History of Psychiatry" edited by John G. Howells

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