Madness and everyday life
What is insanity? Many ancient cultures understood mental illness as something of divine, supernatural origin, the result of a gift or the wrath of a goddess or a god. Later on, somewhere between the fifth and third centuries BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates rejected this idea, explaining that the imbalances would be natural to the body, mostly the ones that derived from the brain. For Hippocrates, the body is equipped with a mechanism that allows it to restore its own balance:
Natural forces within us are the true healers of diseases.
– Hippocrates (460 BC)
Music was adopted in the first hospitals for the “insane” during the Renaissance because of its therapeutic virtues. In Egypt, during the 12th century, recreational activities such as music and dance were prescribed as a way of relieving symptoms – a practice commonly used today.
In Western society, insanity is still associated with demeaning feelings, such as disgust, fear, instability, danger and irrationality. These representations are part of a social imaginary of what it is like to be insane, constructed and maintained historically, which trivializes psychological suffering and inhibits any awareness, assigning a place of exclusion for these people.