Everyone knows the contributions of Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov, and Carl Rogers to clinical psychology and mental health. However, the names of Muslim scholars who have made outstanding contributions to psychiatric treatment are often forgotten.
While people in other parts of the world were busy with ‘metal surgery’ on the skull, doctors in the Islamic lands gave logical, humane, and ‘medical’ treatment for mental illness.
The world’s first mental hospital
Greek physicians and anatomists were the first to study and identify mental disorders. However, it was the Muslims who established the first specialized hospital for the treatment of mental illness. The world’s first mental hospital was established in Baghdad in the 8th century. Most of the methods used in psychiatric treatment are used by modern-day psychiatrists such as healing bath, occupational therapy, motivational discussion, etc.
No religion has declared before Islam ”There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.” (Sahih Muslim 2204).
Here are three Muslim scholars who have contributed to psychiatric treatment:
Ibn Sina (980-1037 AD) and his contribution:
The outstanding contribution of Ibn Sina, a Muslim scientist in medicine, is universally acknowledged. He also plays an important role in mental health treatment. He created the first designs or structures for the treatment of various types of psychiatry. He contributed to the development of Greek philosophers, including Aristotle, by analyzing their theories and opinions. He analyzed Aristotle’s concept of the “Three Souls”- the vegetative, the sensitive, and the rational.
In his analysis of this theory, he said that the earthly activities of man are associated with the vegetative and sensitive souls, and that man acquires the power to know and connect with the Creator through rational or judgmental souls. The third type of spirit separates man from other animals.
Ibn Sina has proved the theory that the seven senses are active in man that is, ‘Common Sense’- ‘Retentive Imagination’, ‘Composite Animal Imagination’, ‘Composite Human Imagination’, ‘Semitic Power’, ‘Memory’, and ‘Processing’. Through these people can judge, think, and analyze. His ‘Seven Senses’ theory helped to advance ‘The Theory of Reasoning’ in the 9th century.
His book, The Canon of Medicine, has been in the medical field for over 500 years at various European universities.
Al Razi (854-925 AD) and his contribution:
Al-Razi, another Muslim scientist had contributed to mental health treatment. He worked as a psychiatrist at a psychiatric hospital in Baghdad. In his books Kitāb al-Manṣūrī and Kitāb al-ḥāwī, he describes multiple mental illnesses and their treatment.
Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 AD) and his contribution:
Hundreds of years before Watson’s famous observation of children “children are afraid of the environment”, Al-Ghazali said, “Evil experiences accumulate fear in the child’s mind.” He applied his “The Method of Introspection” to himself. Al-Ghazali was the first to analyze how human qualities like hunger and anger compel people to behave and what is the method of curing it.
The establishment of mental hospitals and the provision of science-based treatment brought about a revolutionary change in the society of that time. They focused on improving mental health and the scientific treatment of psychiatry. Thus began the journey of modern psychology. Therapeutic methods and medicines for complex psychiatric disorders were discovered.