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GREEK LANGUAGE

Greek mythology and medical and psychiatric terminology

By Loukas Athanasiadis, Psychiatric Bulletin (1997), 21, 781-782 781

A great number of terms in modern psychiatry, medicine and related disciplines originate from the Greek, including pathology, schizophrenia, ophthalmology, gynaecology, anatomy, pharma cology, biology, hepatology, homeopathy, allopathy and many others. There are also many terms that originate from figures from ancient Greek mythology (or the Greek words related to those figures) and I think that it might be interesting to take a look at some of them.

Psyche means ‘soul’ in Greek and she gave her names to terms like psychiatry (medicine of the soul), psychology, etc. Psyche was a mortal girl with whom Eros (‘love’, he gave his name to erotomania, etc.) fell in love. Eros’s mother Aphrodite had forbidden him to see mortal girls. He defied her order and started seeing Psyche in the dark, while she was not allowed to ask his name or look at his face. When she disobeyed him and lit a lamp, Eros fled away. Psyche then wandered long in search of him, they were eventually united and, even better, she became immortal.

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