SEveryone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet: tragic, star-crossed lovers who (spoiler alert!) are only allowed to truly remain together in death. An apothecary helped to seal their oh-so-cruel and romantic fate, but perhaps old RoMo and Jules Cap should have gotten a second medical opinion for their love woes, as an article in yesterday's Telegraph reported that Elizabethan doctors actually had a myriad of cures lined up for "love sickness", which author Charlotte Bailey describes as the Elizabethan equivalent of "unrequited or forbidden love or the distress of being broken-hearted."Much like our modern ways of mending a broken heart, Elizabethan doctors tried to ease their patients' pain by recommending the four basic methods of heart recovery: medication, music, "mental exercises", and a good old make-out session. Believing that love sickness was the result of an inability to physically express romantic notions toward an unrequited partner, doctors attempted to rid the body of the built up frustrations through various methods. Sex, of course, was recommended, as it helped to rid the body of built up tension and pressure, as did a series of blood-letting techniques "performed to release blood and semen from the body." This, according to Dr. Lesel Dawson of the University of Bristol, was a means to cleanse the body of lingering sadness. "According to early modern writers," Dawson claims, "sex expelled the lover's excess blood and seed, which accumulated in the body and putrefied, releasing harmful vapours that could cause melancholy." I suppose it is strange to think of such rituals taking place, but perhaps someday people will look back on us and question our methods of healing a broken heart as well. The thread that remains the same throughout time is this: love, especially when it isn't reciprocated, hurts like hell, and though we might not drain our blood or run around screaming, "I am cleansed from the melancholy seed!", we still have our ways of draining the hurt from our systems. Shakespeare may not have written anything about a hookup being the cure for a breakup, but in his time, it was as recommended as it is now. And even Shakespeare, I'm sure, after writing something like this:"But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind; Those that can see thou lovest, and I am blind" just needed to make out once in a while. Elizabethan Lovesickness Treated With Sex [Telegraph]
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