The Immortal Bard is not only a wit and a genius with words; he was pretty good at getting into his characters’ psychology too… That’s obvious.

Now a colleague has done a review of Shakespeare’s skills in the realm of psychosomatics (body-mind medicine) and suggested doctors could do well to study his plays and the connection between physical symptoms and the  characters’ deep emotions (let’s face it, if they study anything it will be an improvement!)

Dr. Kenneth Heaton, a medical doctor and Shakespeare expert, analyzed 42 of Shakespeare’s works and compared them to 46 works by his 16th-century contemporaries. The results are published in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Medical Humanities.

Heaton reports that Shakespeare was adept at spotting symptoms associated with intense emotion, showing he had a grasp of body-mind symptomatology. Among the states he described in his plays are included disturbed hearing, body coldness and faintness to convey shock, breathlessness, dizziness or faintness, and blunted or heightened sensitivity to touch and pain.

The findings show that Shakespeare was an exceptionally body-conscious writer and should remind doctors that physical symptoms can have psychological or “functional” causes.

[SOURCE: Medical Humanities, news release, Nov. 23, 2011]