Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Depth Psychology and Imaginal psychology in Islam

Depth psychotherapy was clearly not unfamiliar in the Muslim world. Dr. Ihsan Al-Issa,Ph.D, editor of "Al-Junun: Mental Illness in the Islamic World" describes two depth psychotherapeutic interventions including one by the renowned physician and polymath,Ibn Sina(d. 1037):

"In the same vein, Ibn Sina treated a deluded prince who imagined himself to be a cow. He would low and urge that he should be killed so that his flesh would be cooked in to a stew. He stopped eating and his life was in danger. The patient was told that a butcher was coming to kill him. With a knife in his hand, Ibn Sina entered the patent's room with two attendants saying, "Where is this cow that I may kill?" The patient made a noise like a cow. Ibn Sina ordered that the patient's hands and feet be bound. Putting his hand on the patient's side, he said, "He is very lean and not fit to be killed; he must eat fodder until he is fat." The patient ate in the hope that he might become fat and they might kill him, but within a month he was completely recovered (Browne, 1921). Ibn Abi Usaybia cited by Burgel (1973) reported a similar delusional case treated by Ibn Malka. The patient believed that he carried a precious vase on his head and feared its being knocked off. Ibn Malka arranged so that one of his assistants threw a similar vase down from the roof at the same m oment when another assistant pretended to knock down the imagery vase off the patient's head. This was a shock to the patient who believed that it was his vase that was broken and in this way he lost his delusion. It is important to note that both ancient and medieval physicians tended to reinforce the patient's delusion as an initial point in the process of therapy instead of denying the "reality" of these delusions as it is usually practiced in modern psychiatry." (2000, pp.60-61).

Clearly, Islam was able to adopt this Galenic approach to psychological treatment in the Medieval period to obtain the necessary results for effective treatment. This approach is fully validated by contemporary theory in imaginal psychology.

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