Hypochondriac Melancholy
John Hawkins
1633 AD

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Introduction:

  1. In 1633 AD, John Hawkins wrote a book called Hypochondriac Melancholy where he identified anxiety, panic attacks and sleeplessness in Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia that had no biological cause. To Hawkins, it was all in the mind... and he was right! Neither the queen or modern chemical psychiatrists would be amused! (Hypochondriac Melancholy, John Hawkins, 1633 AD)
  2. The author John Hawkins, M D (Padua), practised in London in the 1620's but emigrated on account of his catholic allegiance. His book was the first on `hypochondriac melancholy', and incidentally the first on a psychiatric subject written by an Englishman in Latin and published abroad. By this 'little work' Hawkins hoped to dispel what was at once 'an erroneous belief . . . and a disgrace to the medical profession' namely that 'this disease is incurable, nay even incomprehensible'. He described its symptoms 'in the case of an illustrious and well-known heroine', actually Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, daughter of James I. She was 'miserably beset by grief and fear, without manifest cause, and troubled with various anxious and painful thoughts, almost to the point of madness' the symptoms of melancholy. Her hypochondriac symptoms were `twitching of the stomach [which patients nowadays call butterflies], rumbling in the guts, palpitation of the heart, attacks of trembling and swooning, sleeplessness and loss of weight'. (300 years of Psychiatry, Richard Hunter, 1963, p109)

Hypochondriac Melancholy, John Hawkins, 1633 AD

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