Therapeutic Reading in Later Medieval England
Soul-Health explores the connection between reading and healing. The act of reading engages deeply with our emotions and psychology, and this book broadens our understanding of that process by the surprising revelation that feeling bad has been understood as the best thing for mental and spiritual health. The mental and emotional impact of reading expanded in the Middle Ages into a therapeutic tool for improving the health of the soul – a state called salus animae – and focusing on later Medieval England, the present study explores a core set of religious texts that identify themselves as treatments for the soul. These same texts, however, evoke powerfully negative emotions. Soul-Health investigates each of these emotions, offering an analysis of how fear, penance, compassion and longing could work to promote the health of the soul, demonstrating how interest in mental and spiritual health far pre-dates the modern period, and is more complex and balanced than simply trying to achieve joy.