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Hist Psychiatry. 1999 Sep;10(39 Pt 3):303-18.

Mental disorder among the Incas in ancient Peru.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.


The work of the chroniclers served as a source of information about the occurrence of mental diseases among the Incas. From this source it appears that melancholy was by far the most important disease among mental disorders. The disease did not only affect the common Incas: melancholy was rather frequent among the family of the Inca emperor. Like other diseases, mental diseases were treated by the Incas with a mixture of magic and empirical medicinal products. The latter were mainly of botanical nature, but also some minerals were applied to treat depressive disorders. Some typical syndromes of contemporary folk medicine, such as susto and related ailments, were not mentioned by the chroniclers.

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