Importance of Mental Health and Treatment Methods Used in the Ottoman Empire

One of the treatments applied by Ottoman physicians for patients with mental problems to find healing is music therapy. The civilizations that applied the music therapy method the most are the Ottomans and the Seljuks. It is known that Sultan Bayezid II ordered the patients to be treated with the sound of water and music in the hospital he had built in Edirne in 1488.

SPIRIT Health is the individual’s being in harmony with himself and his environment. The deterioration of mental health is expressed as “the state of inconsistency, disharmony and excess in cognition, emotions and actions”.

In order for the inconsistency, disharmony and excess mentioned here to be accepted as a disease, the condition must be permanent and visibly disrupt the functioning of daily life and interpersonal relationships. It’s like a person constantly arguing with the people around him…

For example, the state of extremes is when a person experiences his emotions to the maximum while showing his love and anger. Or inconsistency is when, for example, talking about a person, he exalts him and then puts him to the ground.

Our soul gets sick and heals just like our body. Just as it is normal for the body to get sick, it is also normal for the soul to get sick. Spirit and body are one and work in balance. When the balance begins to deteriorate, mental and physical illnesses begin.

The first thing that comes to mind when you say “being healthy” is physical health. When the word “mental health” or “mental disorder” is mentioned, people are hesitant to consult mental health professionals because the definition of “madness” or “mental illness” comes to mind. While a person with hypertension does not hide their illness, anxiety, depression, bipolar or bordeline patients hide their illness. They consider being sick to be their fault or a deficiency. They say that they have to hide their illness from the society with the thought that they will be excluded from the society and cannot find a job.

A person with a heart problem can go to the doctor without hesitation and ask for help. While this situation is regarded as a normal situation in the society, it is not so easy for a person suffering from psychological distress to express this and to ask for help. First of all, he finds it difficult to accept that it is a disease. The first thing that comes to mind is the thought “I’m not crazy” or “If I tell anyone what I’ve been through, they’ll call me crazy”. Going to a psychiatrist or psychologist doesn’t make you crazy. On the contrary, postponing, suppressing or seeking solutions in your own way will drag you into an inextricable vortex. Just like every job has an expert, it is necessary to trust an expert in mental health. It is wrong to think that it will go away on its own. Postponed, ignored, suppressed problems will appear before us as an avalanche in the future.

Practices for psychological health in the Ottoman Empire

During the Ottoman period, hospitals called “bîmâristân, bîmârhâne, şifahane or dârüşşifa” were built. Our ancestors, who knew the relationship between psychological health and physical health well, made great efforts to help patients regain their health with different methods and techniques and continued their work meticulously. They showed the importance they attached to the construction of buildings while choosing the physicians to work in these hospitals, and they also brought certain rules to the physicians who would work here. In the charter of 1551 belonging to Haseki Sultan, the following criteria were set for the administration of the darüşşifa and the approach of physicians to patients: “Doctors must be cool-hearted, moral, good-natured, far from anxiety, sincere, compassionate, and treat patients well.”

Although these rules are still valid today, the right approach to the patient should be like this. Because it is important for people who can be a companion on the healing journey to the patients whose hearts are broken and whose hearts are tired, to behave “naïve”.

Today, there is something that people ignore: When a person gets “spiritually” ill, those who consider him sick, deem it worthy of adjectives such as “he doesn’t understand anything, he is crazy, he is out of his mind” and forget that people in this situation are also breathing people like themselves.

While I was doing my internship at the hospital, one of the patients came to me and asked for a cigarette. I politely told him that I don’t smoke. The friend next to me, who is a trainee like me, turned to me and said, “You’re crazy, why are you making an interlocutor and answering?” he said. I said to him, “He is a human being like you! The only difference is that he is inside and you are outside!” I had replied. It is important for the people who will work in the field of mental health to be cool-hearted, moral, good-natured, far from worry, sincere, compassionate and nice to the patients, as they have the criteria in the Ottoman period, both professionally and in terms of being beneficial to the patient. The secret of being successful in this profession is to love and respect oneself first and then other people. Any work done without love and respect brings no benefit, it only becomes a burden on one’s back.

Another example of the value given to the patients in the Ottoman period is as follows: In the section reserved for the mentally ill, in the Beyazıt Complex, “one hundred and fifty” caregivers served “forty” mental patients. (Sugar, 1987)

Architecture, nature, aroma therapy, healthy nutrition and music were used in psychological health practices in the Ottoman period. Evliya Çelebi talked about the architectural features of the hospital in Edirne as follows: “There is a winter room under eight arches. One of the two windows in each room looks at the springistan vineyard with woods, roses and sunbulistan outside the room, while the other looks at the fountain and fountain of the large pool in the middle of the great dome.”

In the rooms in this darüşşifa, people who had all kinds of diseases were treated regardless of class (rich, poor, old and young). In addition, treatments were applied according to the nature of the patients; On winter days, a fire was lit and the patients were served on feather beds, quilts and silk pillows. In the spring season, various flowers such as jasmine, rose-i nesrin, wallflower, carnation, basil, tulip, violet, redbud, peony, daffodil, hyacinth and saffron were given.

For the mentally ill and other patients, hunters would bring birds such as partridge, pheasant, pigeon, dove, goose, duck and nightingale from the Keykavus kitchen, according to the patient’s distress, and these birds were cooked according to the patient’s wishes and served and served to the patient. (Evliya Celebi, 2006)

One of the treatments applied by Ottoman physicians for patients with mental problems to find healing is music therapy. The civilizations that applied the music therapy method the most are the Ottomans and the Seljuks. It is known that Sultan Bayezid II ordered the patients to be treated with the sound of water and music in the hospital he had built in Edirne in 1488.

Evliya Çelebi, Isfehan in opening the mind, strengthening memory and remembering; Rehavi in ​​calming hyperactive and excited patients; He wrote in his Seyahatnâme that the maqams of Kûçi are also good for distressed, pessimistic, stagnant and joyless patients.

I wish you healthy days…

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