By Clark Lawlor
Melancholy is an adventure identified to hundreds of thousands. yet arguments rage on points of its definition and its effect on societies current and prior: do medicinal drugs paintings, or are they purely placebos? Is the melancholy we've got this present day only a build of the pharmaceutical undefined? Is melancholy lower than- or over-diagnosed? should still we be deciding to buy pricey 'talking therapy' remedies like psychoanalysis or Cognitive Behavioural remedy? the following, Clark Lawlor argues that knowing the background of melancholy is necessary to knowing its current conflicted prestige and definition. whereas it truly is real that our sleek realizing of the notice 'depression' was once shaped within the overdue 19th and early 20th centuries, the used to be initially often called melancholia, and characterized through center indicators of persistent causeless disappointment and worry. starting within the Classical interval, and relocating directly to the current, Lawlor indicates either continuities and discontinuities within the figuring out of what we now name melancholy, and within the means it's been represented in literature and paintings. assorted cultures outlined and developed depression and melancholy in methods occasionally so diverse as to be virtually unrecognisable. Even the current continues to be a dynamic background, within the feel that the 'new' kind of melancholy, outlined within the Eighties and handled via medicines like Prozac, is lower than assault by means of many theories that reject the biomedical version and insist a extra humanistic notion of melancholy - person who might be returns us to a sort of depression.
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Extra resources for From Melancholia to Prozac: A History of Depression
The humours would then affect the thoughts and emotions of the person in proportion to the degree of disturbance in their balance brought about by the extent of heat, cold, dryness, or moisture in the body. Women tended to be colder and more humid than men, although they found it harder to resist overheating and becoming melancholic when possessed by love because they were also supposedly more irrational than men. When black bile overheated, the burnt remainder was an ash called ‘melancholy adust’ or ‘atrabilious melancholy’.
22 i R ‘poor wretch’ [The nymphs] gathered beside Jason, And with their hands gently drew the mantle from his head. ’1 Apollonius, Argonautica T his is Jason of the Argonauts, as depicted by Apollonius of Rhodes in his neo-epic poem Argonautica, the tale of the Argo’s voyage. When his ship is stuck on the Libyan coast and nymphs provide assistance, Jason is paralysed by what we might now call depression, although it is clear that this is a depression very much with a cause—after all, he is shipwrecked on the way home.
Melancholia persisted alongside acedia according to the Galenic deﬁnition of the melancholic, clearly with some overlap in the often severe dejection and even suicide brought about by both conditions, but the melancholic tended to suffer from delusions brought on by the malfunctioning of the black bile and its consequent vapours clouding the brain. These delusions provided a dividing line between the two illnesses, while it was also the case that melancholia, having a physical basis, was less stigmatised than the moral disorder of acedia, and might be a preferable diagnosis for the sufferer.
From Melancholia to Prozac: A History of Depression by Clark Lawlor