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De praestigiis daemonum
Basel: Oporinus, 1568. Weyer [Wier], Johann (1515-88). De praestigiis daemonum, et incantationibus ac veneficiis libri sex, aucti & recogniti. 8vo. 697, [55, index]pp. Woodcut illustration. Basel: ex officinal Oporiniana, 1568. 195 x 122 mm. Blind-tooled pigskin over wooden boards, brass clasps, rebacked retaining original spine, rear endpapers renewed, some staining; boxed. Very good. Copious notes in an early hand on front endpapers, title and verso title.Fourth edition, revised and enlarged. First published in 1563, Weyer's De praestigiis daemonum was the first major European work to take an empirical, scientific approach to the study of mental illness; it also represents one of the most celebrated exposés of the witchcraft delusion. Defying the authorities of the Inquisition and the doctrines of the Malleus maleficarum, which assumed the reality of witchcraft and demonic possession, Weyer asserted that most witches were actually suffering from mental illness. He backed his claim with careful descriptions of a number of case histories from his own clinical experience, containing some of the earliest references to purely psychological treatment. To emphasize the superstitious ignorance of doctors who adhered to demonological theory, Weyer analyzed the effects of the stupefying and hallucinatory drugs used in sixteenth-century medicine, attributing many aspects of witchcraft to their effects. He recognized the relationship between a highly suggestible temperament and mental instability, and described the phenomenon of mass contagion of mental illness. Weyer "was the first clinical and the first descriptive psychiatrist to leave to succeeding generations a heritage which was accepted, developed and perfected into an observational branch of medicine. . . . He reduced the clinical problems of psychopathology to simple terms of everyday life and of everyday, human, inner experience" (Zilboorg & Henry, p. 228). Garrison-Morton 4916 (first ed.). Zilboorg & Henry, pp. 208-235.
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