Hieronymous van Aeken (El Bosco, 1460-1516): Curing Folly
The discovery of the Greek physician Claudius Galenos (129-199) that a death does not always occur when the brain is opened up, led to the idea that the 'evil falling sickness stone' could be surgically removed. However, as early as 900, the Persian physician Rhazes was criticising this method:
'Some wonder doctors claim that they can heal the falling sickness, they make a cross-shaped opening at the back of the head, and pretend to take something out which they had been holding in their hand...!'
Right into the 18th century there were stone cutters who belonged to the guild of barbers. They travelled the land as men skilled in the art of healing and earned a great deal of money with quack doctoring, black magic and the power of suggestion, playing on the superstition of the people but also instilling fear into those suffering from the disease.