Among primitives exorcism was the oldest type of psychiatric treatment. The methods consisted of spells and incantations, of mere laying on of hands, of varied bizarre procedures ( J. Frazer1 ), even of skull trephining as practiced among Egyptians to cure headache or epilepsy.
Medicine in ancient Greece resembled more the medicine of today. Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle regarded mental disturbances as disease. Hippocrates gives good descriptions of melancholia, mania, hysteria, and the like. The Greek influence can be traced to Rome in the practices of Esclepiades, of Soranus, and in the writings of Rufus of Ephesus.
During the Middle Ages, the empiricism of ancient Greece declines in Europe and is replaced by theological and metaphysical influences. Demonology takes hold as the priest takes over the field of mental sickness. The masochistic flagellants, the dancing manias, and the cult of witchcraft dominate the field. Schneck2 stresses that witchcraft continued to