Ancient Healthcare and Modern Wellbeing

This video presents recent work by academics in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter, drawing on the insights of ancient Greek healthcare for addressing modern problems. A central theme in this work is Galen’s idea that health consists of a ‘balance’ between six factors in our lives – food and drink, exercise and rest, sleep, our internal and external environment, and our state of mind. Healthcare, in other words, requires a ‘holistic’ approach to the management of our lives, and not just a piecemeal or formulaic approach. Another important insight is that health is an individual matter, depending on age, physique and so on; it is not a matter of ‘one size fits all’. Also, we can all work on our healthcare – and doing so is a necessary basis for living a full, active and busy life.

Professor John Wilkins, working in collaboration with his colleague Professor Christopher Gill and graduate student Patrick Ussher, has been exploring the usefulness of these insights with a variety of groups in the Exeter area; these include school children in Crediton Academy, and volunteer and patients groups in the West Bank Health Centre, Exminster. In a recent development, the usefulness of Galenic healthcare principles is to be trialled in a large-scale questionnaire to the University of Exeter community. This will be followed up in Autumn 2013 by an intervention with a patients group, based on the findings of the questionnaire. Those involved in this project include Exeter Medical School Professor of Healthcare and Wellbeing, Paul Dieppe and Professor Willem Kuyken, Professor of Psychology in theUniversityofExeter Mood Disorders Centre. This represents an exciting extension of the project of applying ancient Greek and Roman ideas for modern healthcare.

Stoic philosophical therapy and its modern uses workshop


A workshop on ‘Stoic philosophical therapy and its modern uses’ was held at the University of Exeter on Oct 5-6 2012.

The aim was to bring together scholars and practitioners to develop ways to draw on insights from Stoic philosophy to enhance modern practice and concerns. The participants included psychotherapists Gill Garratt, Alexandra Hart, Tim LeBon, Donald Robertson, Jenny Wilks, writer on practical philosophy Jules Evans, Exeter scholars in Classics and Ancient History, Philosophy and Theology including Chris Gill, Patrick Ussher and John Wilkins, and John Sellars (Stoicism expert from Birkbeck College London).

There were some very stimulating exchanges and presentations and a very positive atmosphere, with many ideas for taking this forward the dialogue between Stoicism and the modern age. A dedicated blog has been set up to help this process, which contains a full report on the workshop and a video record of the event. Visit the Stoic blog here.

Learning to Become a Good Roman Emperor: An Evening of Stoic Meditation

MA Student Patrick Ussher reports on the recent Medication event held at the University of Exeter:

“On the 22nd February, 2012, the University of Exeter’s Meditation Society held an exploratory session with the theme

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

‘Stoic Meditation: Learning from the Wisdom of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.’ The session was led by Prof. Christopher Gill, professor of Ancient Thought in the Classics department, and by Patrick Ussher, MA Classics student. It was  part of the University’s mental wellbeing day. Continue reading