The History and Science of Fear from Hippocrates to Freud to the Present Day
How are phobias caused? Are they from the thinking mind or the physical brain? Helen Saul demystifies some of our most primal fears in this absorbing guide.
Obsessional fears, commonly known as phobias, are as widespread as they are deeply rooted. But what are they and what causes them? Hippocrates thought they were caused by an excess of black bile, medieval theologians blamed evil spirits, and Freud thought they resulted from suppressed sexual desire. Through the ages, as many as four out of every ten people are estimated to have had some kind of phobia, but only recently have scientists and doctors made an effort to analyze, define, and offer possible cures. Drawing on vivid examples from history, literature, and personal testimonies, Phobias is the first book to describe case histories, assess theories both ancient and contemporary, and seek to answer all the questions about one of mankind’s oldest medical mysteries.
Helen Saul is a freelance science and medical journalist and a contributing editor to New Scientist. She is also news editor of the European Journal of Cancer. She lives in Oxford, England, and has never had a phobia.