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.

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