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The Various Psychological Disorders That Plagued Humans Over the Ages


Psychological disorders reflect the fears suffered by people of any given era. Interestingly, in every period of human history, those living labeled different mental states as full-blown psychological illnesses.

Nowadays, the majority of these would be seen as completely normal. Below, you'll learn about several historic examples.

Male Hysteria


A new psychological disorder emerged in industrialized Western Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries called Male Hysteria. Until then, psychologists believed that only women were susceptible to hysteria. The disorder turned up amongst the middle class of society, more specifically among those who worked in the numerous new factories. It was thought to be caused by the monotonous and cyclic life of those working in the factories.

Dysaesthesia Aethiopica

In the mid-19th century, American experts in the field of mental health announced the existence of this disease, with their main goal being to justify slavery. According to them, the disease was characterized by committing evil deeds due to insensitivity and stupidity.

It led to one being unable to perform normal human activities. Physicians at the time believed that only former slaves from American plantations, who were freed, caught the disease. In this way, psychologists at the time wanted to prove that slaves could not handle their own freedom. And therefore, for that same reason, the only possible cure for this made-up disease was for the patients to submit to a capable white man who would care for them.

Gay Flag


During the Victorian era, psychologists claimed that 1/4 of all women suffered from a psychological illness called "vapours". Supposedly it was caused by a hormonal imbalance and characterized by anxiety, depression, fainting, tremors and bloated stomach. Nearly every woman with a more independent mind and behavior was accused of suffering from the condition in question.


Up until 1986, homosexuality was seen as a mental illness. In the more distant past it was considered a crime and any who were found engaging in homosexual acts were punished by law. Over time, scientists began to look at homosexuality as a possible degenerative disease.

Others theorized it was an inborn defect, not an illness. Freud even believed that bisexuality was an innate condition in humans. Beginning in 1970, homosexuality started to be seen as the result of the cultural views of the individual, until it was eventually crossed off the list of mental illnesses.