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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 103-116

The Literary Works of Miguel de Cervantes from the Perspective of Psychopharmacology: The Four Aspects of Phármakon

Faculty of Health Sciences, University Camilo José Cela; Hospital 12 de Octubre Research Institute (i+12), Madrid, Spain; Portucalense Institute of Neuropsychology and Cognitive and Behavioural Neurosciences (INPP), Portucalense University, Porto, Portugal

Correspondence Address:
Francisco Lopez-Munoz
C/ Castillo de Alarcón 49, 28692 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/TPSY.TPSY_23_21

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Background: Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1617) was a Spanish writer, who has often been considered as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's outstanding novelists. His novel Don Quixote, is a work often cited as both the first modern novel and one of the best works of world literature. The life of Cervantes has been full of fascinations, imaginations, attracting the attention from all walks of people, including psychiatrists. Methods: With career interest in psychopharmacology, the author in this review intends to focus on Cervantes's notions in his works on the use of psychotropic agents. The author also categorized psychotropic agents into four different scenarios of use – therapeutic remedies, toxic and poisonous agents (love philters, poisonous potions), antidotes as well as drugs of abuse (witches' ointments). Results: Cervantes' works were found that Cervantes made references to those preparations in Don Quixote, The Galatea, Journey to Parnassus, The Spanish English Lady, The Lawyer of Glass, The Jealous Old Man from Extremadura, The Dialogue of the Dogs, Pedro de Urdemalas and The Diversion. The main agents cited by Cervantes in the context analyzed included henbane, tobacco, rhubarb, rosemary, vervain, and in a masked way, opium. Cervantes did not identify the ingredients of other preparations with psychotropic properties, although, in the sense of the symptoms described by the author, they could be plants of the Solanaceae family, such as the henbane, nightshade, jimson weed, belladonna, or mandrake. Conclusion: Cervantes' texts, although by no means scientific treatises, give us with a correct description of the uses (and effects) of psychotropic substances in late Renaissance Spain, and explain how a group of drugs could have four archetypal qualities – remedy, poison, antidote, and drug of abuse.

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