There is a story in David Tacey’s latest book, Gods and Diseases, which captures in a neat set of images the sense of what the author is trying to say. In ancient Greece, he tells us, people wanting relief from ailments of one kind or another would come to the temple of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and be led into a “dream chamber”. They would be asked to sleep for a while and their dreams then analysed by the priests of the temple to form the basis for their remedy.
This picture is emblematic of Tacey’s outlook in the book. Physical and mental wellbeing, he says, has a hidden, psychological-spiritual component. There are stories and meanings behind why we feel unwell and these must be understood to help us properly face our situation.