Irina Metzler
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Cold complexions and moist humors
Natural science and intellectual disability
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Basil Clarke had made some educated guesses as to the incidence of mental illness in general and intellectual disability (ID) in particular for medieval England. The confusing and overlapping medieval medical terminology of madness, mental illness and mental disability may partly be explained by the main categorisations of the various medical schools and authorities a writer followed, e.g. Galenic or Hippocratic. The nearest thing to mental disability ever mentioned in medical texts might be 'lethargy', which, like congenital idiocy, was associated with too much cold and moisture. Lethargy 'is representative of a group of disorders which involved extreme somnolence or stupor and were conceived of as cold diseases, calling for remedies to warm and stimulate the patient and to thin and disperse an accumulation of phlegm'. Humoral reasons concerned with wet and cold are the main aetiologies, and the few therapeutics attempted tended to reflect the 'warming' actions.

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Fools and idiots?

Intellectual disability in the Middle Ages


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