In ancient Mesopotamia, priest-doctors treated the mentally ill with magico-religious rituals as mental pathology was believed to mask demonic possession (Alexander 19).
Exorcisms, incantations, prayer, atonement, and other various mystical rituals were used to drive out the evil spirit.
Yet, God was also seen as the ultimate healer and, generally, Hebrew physicians were priests who had special ways of appealing to the higher power in order to cure sickness.
Along the same spiritual lines, ancient Persians attributed illness to demons and believed that good health could be achieved through proper precautions to prevent and protect one from diseases.
Early man widely believed that mental illness was the result of supernatural phenomena such as spiritual or demonic possession, sorcery, the evil eye, or an angry deity and so responded with equally mystical, and sometimes brutal, treatments.
Other means attempted to appeal to the spirit with more human devices--threats, bribery, punishment, and sometimes submission, were hoped to be an effective cure (Alexander 8).
Hebrews believed that all illness was inflicted upon humans by God as punishment for committing sin, and even demons that were thought to cause some illnesses were attributed to God’s wrath.
Trephining (also referred to as trepanning) first occurred in Neolithic times.
During this procedure, a hole, or trephine, was chipped into the skull using crude stone instruments.