A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soul of Man
Edward Reynolds
1640 AD

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  1. In 1640 AD, Edward Reynolds, a preacher for a church, correctly rejected the quack medical opinions and practices of his day: that mental illness was of physical origin. He correctly saw that "melancholy blood" did not cause mental illness. Today chemical psychiatrists continue this deception by prescribing drugs to the mentally ill because of a "chemical imbalance" in the brain. Doctors of the 17th century and the chemical psychiatrists of today are both wrong in saying the body makes one insane. Instead, they should listen to Edward Reynolds, who correctly showed the etiology of insanity to be entirely the result of spiritual choices and how the guilt from sinful conduct affected both the mind and the body. He illustrates in several ways how a man must exercise self control to keep his sex drive and other passions under control. This has nothing in common with Freud, since Reynolds believed that the conscious freewill of a man choosing to overcome sin, is the best way to cure mental illness. "as Husbandmen use to do those Trees which are crooked . . . or else it is done, by scattering and distracting of them; and that not only by the power of Reason, but sometimes also by a cautelous admixture of Passions amongst themselves, thereby interrupting their free current". To Reynolds, a man who is mentally ill is like a crooked tree that needs to be corrected by pruning and staking of the farmer. Of course the primary one to do this staking and pruning was the person themselves, to themselves! To Reynolds, the Bible command to "flee fornication" was achieved by power of will and self control. He also recommended people avoid such sinful sexual activity and to replace such thoughts with positive wholesome things as a kind of "minds decoy" to get your thoughts off of sex. When your mother told you to take cold shower and read the Bible because you were "horny", this is exactly the kind of thing Reynolds would advise. (A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soul of Man, Edward Reynolds, 1640 AD)
  2. "While many physicians believed that mental illness was due to bodily disease, non-medical writers like Reynolds blamed excess of one or other passion or affection. In line with this he described a type of psychotherapy by 'opposing contrary Passions . . . or . . . scattering and distracting of them' which was often recommended in the seventeenth century and later, and is the rationale which underlies in some measure adjunct therapies (occupational, music and art) of today. Reynolds's 'Passions' have their modern counterpart in instinctual drives and his 'Affections' in the emotional states accompanying them. His was therefore an instinct theory of mental illness much like Freud's libido theory, and in fact his instincts of 'conservation of themselves' and of 'propagation of their kind' correspond directly with Freud's ego and sex instincts, conflict between which is the basis of the Freudian theory of mental illness." (300 years of Psychiatry, Richard Hunter, 1963, p119)

A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soul of Man, Edward Reynolds, 1640 AD

Edward Reynolds (1599-1676)

M A, D D Oxon, King's Chaplain, Bishop of Norwich, Warden of Merton College, Oxford

A treatise of the passions and faculties of the soule of man. With the severall dignities and corruptions thereunto belonging, 1640 London, Bostock pp. 31-2, 35, 52-5

Reissued six times by 1658


Passions are nothing else, but those natural, perfective, and unstrained motions of the Creatures unto that advancement of their Natures, which they are by the Wisdom, Power, and Providence of their Creator, in their own several Spheres, and according to the proportion of their Capacities, ordained to receive, by a regular inclination to those objects, whose goodness beareth a natural convenience or virtue of satisfaction unto them; or by an antipathy and aversion from those, which bearing a contrariety to the good they desire, must needs be noxious and destructive, and by consequent, odious to their natures ...

Now, this natural Passion which I speak of, is called by sundry Names amongst Philosophers, the Law, the Equity, the Weight, the Instinct, the Bond, the Love, the Covenant and League of natural things in order, to the conservation of themselves, propagation of their kind, perfection, and order of the Universe, service of Man, and glory of the Creator; which are the alone ends of all natural Agents ...

We wil here a little observe, what course may be taken for the allaying of this vehemencie of our Affections, whereby they disturb the quiet, and darken the serenity of mans Mind. And this is done, either by opposing contrary Passions to contrary; which is Aristotles rule, who adviseth, in the bringing of Passions from an extreame to a mediocritie, to incline & bend them towards the other extreame, as Husbandmen use to doe those Trees which are crooked . . . or else it is done, by scattering and distracting of them; and that not only by the power of Reason, but sometimes also by a cautelous admixture of Passions amongst themselves, thereby interrupting their free current : For, as usually the Affections of the Mind are bred one of another . . . as Griefe by Anger . . . and Fear by Love . . . and Desire by Fear . . . So likewise are some Passions stopped, or at least bridled & moderated by others; Amor foras mittit timorem, Perfect Love casteth out Feare ... Thus, as we see in the Body Military . . . That one tumult is the cure of another; and in the Body Naturall, some Diseases are expelled by others : so likewise in the Mind, Passions, as they mutually generate, so they mutually weaken each other. It often falleth out, that the voluntarie admission of one loss, is the prevention of a greater : as when a Merchant casteth out his ware, to prevent a shipwreck; and in a public Fire, men pull down some houses untoucht, to prevent the spreading of the flame: Thus is it in the Passions of the Mind; when any of them are excessive, the way to remit them, is by admitting of some further perturbation from others, and so distracting the forces of the former : Whether the Passions we admit, be contrarie; as when a dead Palsie is cured with a burning Feaver, and Souldiers suppresse the feare of Death, by the shame of Basenesse .. .

Or whether they be Passions of a different, but not of a repugnant nature; and then the effect is wrought, by revoking some of the spirits, which were otherwise all imployed in the service of one Passion, to attend on them; and by that meanes also, by diverting the intention of the Mind from one deep Channell into many crosse and broken Streames ; as men are wont to stop one flux of blood, by making of another; and to use frictions to the feet, to call away and divert the humours which pain the head.

Which dissipation and scattering of Passion, as it is wrought principally by this mutuall confounding of them amongst themselves, so in some particular cases likewise, two other ways ; namely, by communion in diverse subjects, and extension on diverse objects. For the first, we see in matter of Griefe, the Mind doth receive (as it were) some lightnesse and comfort, when it finds it self generative unto others, and produces sympathie in them : For hereby it is (as it were) disburthened, and cannot but find that easier, to the sustaining whereof, it hath the assistance of anothers shoulders.

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