Medieval Mind-healing

During the Middle Ages faith was one of the things most frequently

appealed to, and even the physicians made use of religious belief to

secure a favorable attitude of the patient's mind toward the remedies.

One of the men who particularly realized the importance of this was

Mondeville, the great French surgeon.

Pagel has called attention to Mondeville's insistence on preparing the

patient's mind properly for venesection. The patient should be made to

feel that this procedure was sure to do him good, and various reasons

should be given him why the removal of a certain amount of blood

carried with it poisons from the body, and so gave a better

opportunity to nature to conquer the disease. If the patients were

unfavorably disposed towards venesection, Mondeville thought that it

should not be performed, as it was not likely to do good. It was not

that he felt that the mental influence was the more important of the

two therapeutic factors, but that a combination of the remedial force

of blood-letting with a favorable state of the patient's mind meant so

much more than could be accomplished by venesection alone that it was

worth while to take pains to have the combination of the two. We in

modern times realize that in most cases blood-letting rather did

physical harm than good. It continued to hold a place in medicine

because patients were so much impressed by it that they were given

renewed vigor after its use.

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