Northern Centre for the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

Pybus: "Madness and Passions in Early Modern Spain"

Added 04 May 2011 | Duration 43 minutes 16 seconds

Dr Elena Carrera, Queen Mary, University of London

This paper discusses early modern madness in connection with four sufferers whose main symptoms included sadness, fear or anger: the heiress to the Spanish Crowns Juana ‘the mad’ in 1503-04, two young anonymous patients of a Spanish medical author in the mid-sixteenth century, and a 15-year-old Portuguese woman who was examined by the Spanish Inquisition’s physicians during her imprisonment in 1663-64. It looks at these cases within the wider context of authoritative medical and moral writings, which might help understand sixteenth-century notions of the mind and of the relationship between the imagination, the spirits, and the passions. It explains why, among the diverse treatments recommended for these sufferers, the extant reports by physicians stress the importance of diet and suggest using contrary passions, such as joy for the sad and fear for the angry.

Elena Carrera (DPhil Oxon) is Senior Lecturer in the Spanish Golden Age at Queen Mary, University of London, and a co-founder of the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions. Her research interests lie in the history of madness and the history of emotions in medieval and early modern Europe. Her publications include: Teresa of Avila’s Autobiography: Authority, Power and the Self in Mid-Sixteenth-Century Spain (Oxford, 2005), ‘The Spiritual Role of the Emotions in Mechthild of Magdeburg, Angela of Foligno, and Teresa of Avila’, in Lisa Perfetti (ed.), The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (University Press of Florida, 2005) and ‘The Emotions in Sixteenth-Century Spanish Spirituality’, Journal of Religious History 31.3 (2007). She has edited Madness and Melancholy in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Spain, a special issue of the Bulletin of Spanish Studies (2010), and Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Brill, forthcoming, 2012).

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