Skip to content

Melancholia: The Western Malady, by Matthew Bell

15/09/2014


Cultural and historical factors hint at the sources of the difficulty. While there is debate on whether depression overlaps with melancholy and on how much continuity there might be between psychiatric categories and the melancholia that the Western tradition links to genius and to a superior manner of being in the world, depression sometimes retains the dark luster of the ancient black bile and is often accompanied by an exceptionally penetrating reflexivity.


The comparative literature scholar Matthew Bell (2014, xi) insightfully notes: 

One distinctive feature of Western culture is the high status that it has accorded to self-consciousness. Melancholia, or at least the psychological symptoms of melancholia as reported from Hippocrates right down through Western history, depends upon the West’s peculiarly introspective culture. The psychological symptoms of melancholia are, to put it crudely, a disorder of malignant self-consciousness.

Vidal, Fernando and Ortega, Francisco. Being Brains: Making the Cerebral Subject (Forms of Living)....

Book cover

Description

Melancholia is a commonly experienced feeling, and one with a long and fascinating medical history which can be charted back to antiquity. Avoiding the simplistic binary opposition of constructivism and hard realism, this book argues that melancholia was a culture-bound syndrome which thrived in the West because of the structure of Western medicine since the Ancient Greeks, and because of the West's fascination with self-consciousness. While melancholia cannot be equated with modern depression, Matthew Bell argues that concepts from recent depression research can shed light on melancholia. Within a broad historical panorama, Bell focuses on ancient medical writing, especially the little-known but pivotal Rufus of Ephesus, and on the medicine and culture of early modern Europe. Separate chapters are dedicated to issues of gender and cultural difference, and the final chapter offers a survey of melancholia in the arts, explaining the prominence of melancholia - especially in literature.

Bell, Matthew. 2014. Melancholia: The Western Malady. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Matthew Bell, Ph.D., is a professor at King's College London. His research focuses on intersections...

kcl.academia.edu/MatthewBell

0 comments

Comment

No comments avaliable.

Author

Info

Published in 4/02/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Chap. 3: Cerebralizing Distress:


01/09/2007 (Aprox)Can Neuroscience be integrated into the DSM-V?, by Steven HymanCan Neuroscience be integrated into the DSM-V?, by Steven Hyman
02/01/2011 (Aprox)The Pharma-Psych NexusThe Pharma-Psych Nexus
01/01/1997 (Aprox)01/01/2013 (Aprox)Books by David HealyBooks by David Healy
01/12/1951 (Aprox)Synthetization of ChlorpromazineSynthetization of Chlorpromazine
12/08/2014Is Evidence-based Psychiatry Ethical?, by Mona Gupta
03/01/2007 (Aprox)Global Mental Health Movement (GMH)
01/01/2008 (Aprox)Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)
01/01/2002 (Aprox)01/01/2013 (Aprox)Globalization of PsychiatryGlobalization of Psychiatry
01/01/2001 (Aprox)World Health ReportWorld Health Report
03/01/2005 (Aprox)The bio-bio-bio model of madness, by John ReadThe bio-bio-bio model of madness, by John Read
01/03/2012 (Aprox)The Epigenetics Revolution, by Nessa CareyThe Epigenetics Revolution, by Nessa Carey
01/01/2010 (Aprox)Major Depressive Disorder: 2nd leading cause of disability worldwideMajor Depressive Disorder: 2nd leading cause of disability worldwide
01/01/2011 (Aprox)The pharmaceutical industry's turn: from medication to geneticsThe pharmaceutical industry's turn: from medication to genetics
10/07/2014Most recent edition of the Handbook of DepressionMost recent edition of the Handbook of Depression
01/07/2000 (Aprox)Nosologomania: A Disorder of Psychiatry, by Herman van PraagNosologomania: A Disorder of Psychiatry, by Herman van Praag
15/09/2014Melancholia: The Western Malady, by Matthew BellMelancholia: The Western Malady, by Matthew Bell
18/10/2005Can Brain Scans See Depression?, by Benedict CareyCan Brain Scans See Depression?, by Benedict Carey
03/01/2008 (Aprox)Biological Vulnerability of Depression, by Nantel-Vivier and PihlBiological Vulnerability of Depression, by Nantel-Vivier and Pihl
02/01/2002 (Aprox)Functional Neuroimaging of Depression, by Erk, Walter and SpitzerFunctional Neuroimaging of Depression, by Erk, Walter and Spitzer
01/02/2002 (Aprox)Depression: Perspectives from Affective Neuroscience, by Davidson et al.Depression: Perspectives from Affective Neuroscience, by Davidson et al.
02/01/2014 (Aprox)The Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness, by Tobias EschThe Neurobiology of Meditation and Mindfulness, by Tobias Esch
20/09/2013Concentrating on Kindness, an article on Science MagConcentrating on Kindness, an article on Science Mag
02/01/2009 (Aprox)Lack of evidence of causality in depressionLack of evidence of causality in depression
02/01/2013 (Aprox)Classification of Depressive Disorders, by Philip J. CowenClassification of Depressive Disorders, by Philip J. Cowen
03/01/2013 (Aprox)The search for treatment-specific biomarkersThe search for treatment-specific biomarkers
04/01/2013 (Aprox)Hopes for diagnostic based on identified biomarkers
16/01/2001A Default Mode of Brain Function, by Raichle et al.A Default Mode of Brain Function, by Raichle et al.
03/01/1998 (Aprox)Thoughts on Finding Myself Differently Brained, by Jane MeyerdingThoughts on Finding Myself Differently Brained, by Jane Meyerding
02/01/1999 (Aprox)Why Can’t You Be Normal for Once in Your Life? by Judy SingerWhy Can’t You Be Normal for Once in Your Life? by Judy Singer
01/01/1998 (Aprox)NeurodiversityNeurodiversity
01/01/1940 (Aprox)01/01/1975 (Aprox)Influence of psychoanalytic explanationsInfluence of psychoanalytic explanations
01/01/1960 (Aprox)The Divided Self, by Ronald LaingThe Divided Self, by Ronald Laing
01/01/1967 (Aprox)Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry, by David CooperPsychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry, by David Cooper
01/03/1973 (Aprox)Mental Patients' UnionMental Patients' Union
01/01/1962 (Aprox)National Autistic SocietyNational Autistic Society
01/01/1965 (Aprox)Autism Society of AmericaAutism Society of America
01/01/1990 (Aprox)The rise of Internet
01/01/1992 (Aprox)01/01/1996 (Aprox)Autism Network InternationalAutism Network International
01/01/1994 (Aprox)National Alliance for Autism ResearchNational Alliance for Autism Research
03/01/1995 (Aprox)Cure Autism Now FoundationCure Autism Now Foundation
18/11/2004Petition to the United Nations
02/01/1995 (Aprox)Thinking in Pictures, by Temple GrandinThinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin
01/01/2005 (Aprox)Acceptance Versus Cure, by Sue RubinAcceptance Versus Cure, by Sue Rubin
18/07/2005First Autistic Pride DayFirst Autistic Pride Day
02/01/2005 (Aprox)A Mother's Perspective, by Kit Weintraub
01/01/1999 (Aprox)Why I Dislike 'Person First' Language, by Jim Sinclair
01/01/1995 (Aprox)The Looping Effects of Human Kinds, by Ian HackingThe Looping Effects of Human Kinds, by Ian Hacking
02/01/2006 (Aprox)On Our Own Terms: Emerging Autistic Culture, by Martijn DekkerOn Our Own Terms: Emerging Autistic Culture, by Martijn Dekker
01/01/1997 (Aprox)Autism Genetic Resource ExchangeAutism Genetic Resource Exchange
01/01/2006 (Aprox)Voices From The Spectrum, by Ariel and NaseefVoices From The Spectrum, by Ariel and Naseef
02/01/1998 (Aprox)Institute for the Study of the Neurologically TypicalInstitute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical
25/08/2010AspergiaAspergia
01/01/2013 (Aprox)The Book of Woe, by Gary GreenbergThe Book of Woe, by Gary Greenberg
10/03/2007Light and Dark: Correcting the Balance, by Judy SingerLight and Dark: Correcting the Balance, by Judy Singer