On the Passions and Errors of the Soul

Galen. Translated by P. Haskins


Literary Collections / Ancient, Classical & Medieval
136 pp. 6x9



For almost fifteen hundred years, Galen of Pergamum (130—ca. 200 A. D.) was the virtually undisputed authority in medical matters. He composed, it is said, hearly five hundred treatises in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and such varied fields as logic, ethics, and grammar, as well as therapeutic and clinical works. His scientific approach to anatomy and his use of inductive reasoning in the diagnosis of disease made him the unquestioned “Prince of Physicians” until the early sixteenth century.

The present volume offers for the first time in English translations of his two works in the field of “moral philosophy,” an area that, in the manner in which he approaches them, makes them contributions to that part of medicine known today as psychotherapy.

It was Galen’s thesis that passion and moral error were diseases, but diseases of the soul and not the body, and that the physician treating a patient suffering from a “diseased soul” must attack the passion or error directly and immediately—an approach that has had a profound influence on the subsequent treatment of mental disorder.

Paul W. Harkins, professor of classical language at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, is author of “St. John Chrysostom: Baptismal Instructions” and is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals.

Walther Riese is emeritus associate professor of the history of medicine and neurology and psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia. He is the author of Principles of Neurology in the Light of History and Their Present Use; The Conception of Disease, Its History, Its Versions, and Its Nature; A History of Neurology; and other books, and has written numerous articles for scientific periodicals in both Europe and the United States.