The Egyptian Ebers Medical Papyrus
The beginning of the secret book of the Physician
The science of the action of the heart and of the heart itself
1550 BC

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Introduction:

In 1550 BC, the Egyptians wrote a book of medicine. It is likely a copy of a much older book, but it is quite fascinating to realize just how much the ancients knew about the human body and various diseases. While the cures were no better than a witches brew with "eye of newt", they did understand the various diseases. The only reference to anything coming close to psychiatry, is in the section on the heart where anger and sadness are discussed. Biopsychiatrists love to quote the papyrus as proof that the Egyptians believed depression was caused by bodily diseases. But this is simply untrue. In fact the opposite is true. The Egyptians understood that anger and sadness caused body diseases in the heart. The papyrus reads: "When his Heart is afflicted and has tasted sadness, behold his Heart is closed in and darkness is in his body because of anger which is eating up his Heart." (The Egyptian Medical Ebers Papyrus: 1550 BC)

The Egyptian Ebers Medical Papyrus: 1550 BC
The beginning of the secret book of the Physician
The science of the action of the heart and of the heart itself

1.       "When anger arises in his Heart, behold it is a seething-up of the parts of the Intestine and the Liver."

2.       "When the Heart is sad, behold it is the moroseness of the Heart, or the vessels of the Heart are closed up in so far as they are not recognizable under thy hand. They grow full of Air and Water. When the Heart feels an aversion, behold it is the Bitterness of the Heart because of Inflammation in the Anus."

3.       "When the Heart is miserable and is beside itself, behold it is the Breath of the heb-xer Priest that causes it through the hollow of his hand. It penetrates right down to the Rectum in such a manner that the Heart comes forth and loses its way under the disease. When dryness befalls his Heart, behold it is the dryness of Fire that befalls it. He sighs often and his Heart is eaten up with anger; this is because his Heart is full of Blood, which in turn is due to drinking Warm Water and eating Bad Food. When his Heart is afflicted and has tasted sadness, behold his Heart is closed in and darkness is in his body because of anger which is eating up his Heart."

 

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

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