Seeing Galen ideas today

Despite its length, this article was pretty interesting. I especially enjoyed reading about the different people in history that tried to define and understand emotions. I’ve read about Galen before, and I find his theory fascinating. He believed that humans were composed of four fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow gall, and black gall. An excess of one of these caused a person’s humour to exist in a particular sphere where they experienced particular feelings. Galen advocated moral education and moderation to combat this unbalance.

He and other theorists also seemed to place value in a person’s will, implying that if their will was strong enough, they could overcome issues like melancholy and depression. This part of his theory is what I can still see today. Many people are under the impression that a person can “beat” depression and melancholy through the strength of their will, when that isn’t always the case. To me, these sentiments seem just as ignorant and far-fetched as Galen’s theory of fluids and humour.

1 thought on “Seeing Galen ideas today

  1. I would argue that following along that line of thought is a major reason why mental disease has traditionally been gendered female. Women just have so many fluids moving around inside of them, you know, no wonder they would have a harder time getting their fluids in alignment and thinking rationally, stoically, like a man. Oh wait, we have moved passed fluids? Well, it must be those passions then moving through women, since men are closer to the mind/spirit while women are tied to the body. If you find your rational faculties overcome by what we would think of today as an illness inside of you, well, that is awfully feminine of you.

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