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The Hermit Life and Mental Health

  • Did Evagrius Ponticus (AD 346–99) have obsessive–compulsive disorder? by Jonathan Hill, Journal of Medical Biography, Vol. 18:49-56, 2010
    "Evagrius Ponticus was one of the most important and influential spiritual writers in the early Christian church. This author argues that he suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder: in particular, the demonic ‘thoughts’ which he repeatedly describes meet all the criteria for obsessions. If this is true, it offers a new perspective on the relation between pastoral theology and psychiatric disorders: the spiritual tradition which Evagrius helped found may, as a result, have tended to exacerbate such symptoms in others, but it also possessed the resources to address them in a practical way."
  • Was St. Anthony Crazy?: visionary experiences of the desert Greg Mahr In IMAGINATION AND ITS PATHOLOGIES, MIT Press 2003.
    "...To consider Anthony's visions purely as a product of depressive psychosis is inconsistent with the descriptions of his cheerful demeanor. The contagious quality of his visions and the power they had to influence others are also difficult to explain according to a depressive model.

    This very power of Anthony's visions and the influence he had over Western culture for centuries suggest not only the weak claim that Anthony was not delirious, crazy, or sick but the stronger claim that his visions gave him powerful insight. His insight, colored by his visions, resonated so powerfully in the culture as a whole that he was able to reshape that culture. His visionary experiences must not only be de-pathologized but reconsidered as examples of human creative power."
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