Mental health in Egypt

Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2005;42(2):116-25.


The concepts and management of mental health in Egypt are presented from the Pharaonic era through the Islamic Renaissance until today. Papyri from the Pharaonic period show that Soma and Psyche were not differentiated and mental disorders were described as symptoms of the heart and uterus. Although theories of causation were of a mystical nature, mental disorders were treated on a somatic basis. In the Islamic era, mental patients were neither maltreated nor tortured as a consequence of the belief that they may be possessed by a good Moslem genie. In the 14th century mental disorders was one of the four departments in Cairo's Kalawoon Hospital, a precursor of the place of psychiatry in general hospitals that was accepted in Europe six centuries later. The mental health services in Egypt today are described, and transcultural studies carried out in Egypt of the prevalence and phenomenology of anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, suicide, conversion and obsessive compulsive disorders are reviewed. The psychiatric services for children are in their infancy. Since 1983 the common and semi-accepted use of hashish has been joined by abuse by heroin and other substances.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Egypt, Ancient
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Islam
  • Mental Disorders / history
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / history*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*