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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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