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A history of misunderstanding

Disorders of the mind have long been feared and misunderstood. Archaeologists have discovered 5000-year-old skulls with small round holes bored in them thought to be to release evil spirits. This is still done in some cultures today. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, mentally ill people were locked up in lunatic asylums which were often no better than prisons. These days, scientists and doctors are beginning to understand the changes causing mental illness. This will lead to new, more effective treatments in the twenty-first century.

A Bronze Age skull (2200-2000 BC) which had holes drilled in it, possibly to release evil spirits believed to cause mental illnesses.
A Bronze Age skull (2200-2000 BC) which had holes drilled in it, possibly to release evil spirits believed to cause mental illnesses.
Science & Society Picture Library

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