Title: Naturae morbi hypochondriaci ejusque ...
Publisher: ex typographia Antonii Andreoni , Verona
Publication Date: 1756
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: 1st Edition
8vo (235 x 175mm). , 207pp., [index misnumbered 108]. Engraved vignette to title, headpieces, printed in double column, decorative initials on p.  and 3. Contemporary vellum, marbled edges; (lacks frontispiece portrait, slightest dampstaining at bottom right corner). Early ownership inscription, "Ex libris 1850." Pictorial wood-engraved ex-libris by Leo Wyatt for Lord Norwich on front free endpaper. Important study on the nature of hypochrondriasis by Fracassini. Today, hypochondriasis is a mental disturbance characterized by unfounded fear of serious illness, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was a common physical condition. In this first edition, Antonio Fracassini, doctor of Verona, wrote upon the nature, cause, and cure of the hypochrondriacal affection. He acknowledged the symptoms of fear and dejection and considered them two of the main characteristics of the hypochrondriacal melancholy; melancholy being one of the four main directions a personality could tend toward. Patients were seen as having anxiety that caused stomach problems and an intensive need to ruminate over their illness. Fraccasini believed that when a patient is feeling melancholic, he is filled with anxiety and distress, as is manifested by great lowness of spirits, silence and aversion to society. These symptoms are succeeded by a solicitous desire of life and sometimes by an equal desire of death. They all prefigure insanity. Over time, this diagnosis had not changed much owing from the long studied claims by Greek physician Galen of Pergamon, the basis of Fracassiniís work, and until the time of Robert Burton and his infamous book "The Anatomy of Melancholy" in 1621. Burton was the first physician to give relief and hope to sufferers of hypochondria through his sound advice and genuine concern for those who claimed affliction. With Burton and Fracassiniís contributions the science of the disorder was transformed. What had once been an affliction of abdominal organs became a disorder of the nervous system and brain, and finally the mind. Two factors contributed to this change. One was a shift in the social context of emerging medical knowledge. As medical practice moved from bedside to hospital, illnesses that had involved the whole person came to reside in bodily organs. Hypochondriasis became illness without somatic disease. The other was a change in English society that altered the disorderís social significance. During the Enlightenment, hypochondriasis became, on the one hand, a mark of distinction conferring class status, and on the other, an object of social disapproval. Bookseller Inventory # D6236
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