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Melancholia

Melancholia

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Melancholia also lugubriousness, from the Latin lugere, to mourn; moroseness, from the Latin morosus, self-willed, fastidious habit; wistfulness, from old English wist: intent, or saturnine, (see Saturn
Saturn (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Saturn was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of abundance and peace by many Roman authors. In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength. He held a sickle in...

), in contemporary usage, is a mood disorder
Mood disorder
Mood disorder is the term designating a group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classification system where a disturbance in the person's mood is hypothesized to be the main underlying feature...

 of non-specific depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

, characterized by low levels of both enthusiasm and eagerness for activity.

In a modern context, "melancholy" applies only to the mental or emotional symptoms of depression or despondency; historically, "melancholia" could be physical as well as mental, and melancholic conditions were classified as such by their common cause rather than by their properties.

Similarly, melancholia in ancient usage also encompassed mental disorders which might now be classed as schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

s or bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

s.

History


The name "melancholia" comes from the old medical belief of the four humors
Humorism
Humorism, or humoralism, is a now discredited theory of the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person directly influences their temperament and health...

: disease or ailment being caused by an imbalance in one or other of the four basic bodily liquids, or humors. Personality types were similarly determined by the dominant humor in a particular person. According to Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

, melancholia was caused by an excess of black bile
Bile
Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In many species, bile is stored in the gallbladder and upon eating is discharged into the duodenum...

, hence the name, which means 'black bile', from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 μέλας (melas), "dark, black", + χολή (kholé), "bile"; a person whose constitution tended to have a preponderance of black bile had a melancholic disposition.
See also: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric.

Melancholia was described as a distinct disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 with particular mental and physical symptoms in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Hippocrates, in his Aphorisms, characterized all "fears and despondencies, if they last a long time" as being symptomatic of melancholia.

In the medieval Arab world
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

, Ishaq ibn Imran (d. 908), known as "Isaac" in the West, wrote an essay
Essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 entitled Maqala fi-l-Malikhuliya, in which he discovered a type of melancholia: the "cerebral type" or "phrenitis
Phrenitis
The term phrenitis was employed in ancient Greece by Hippocrates and his followers. It refers to acute inflammation of mind and body, not in a theoretical but in a descriptive sense. Its presumed seat was never anatomically or conceptually well determined...

". He carried out a diagnosis
Medical diagnosis
Medical diagnosis refers both to the process of attempting to determine or identify a possible disease or disorder , and to the opinion reached by this process...

 on this mental disorder, describing its varied symptoms. The main clinical features he identified were sudden movement
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

, fool
Foolishness
Foolishness is the lack of wisdom. In this sense it differs from stupidity, which is the lack of intelligence. An act of foolishness is sometimes referred to as a folly....

ish acts, fear
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

, delusion
Delusion
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

s and hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

s.

Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi
Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi
Ali ibn al-'Abbas al-Majusi , also known as Masoudi, or Latinized as Haly Abbas, was a Persian physician and psychologist most famous for the Kitab al-Maliki or Complete Book of the Medical Art, his textbook on medicine and psychology.-Biography:He was born in Ahvaz, southwestern Persia, and...

 (d. 982) discussed mental illness in his medical encyclopedia, Kitab al-Malaki, which was translated into Latin as Liber pantegni
Liber pantegni
The Liber pantegni is a medieval medical text compiled by Constantinus Africanus in ca. the 1080s, ascribed to Isaac Israeli ben Solomon . It is a compendium of Hellenistic and Islamic medicine, in large parts a translation of the kitab al-malaki "royal book" of Ali ibn al-Abbas...

, where he discovered and observed another type of melancholia: clinical lycanthropy
Clinical lycanthropy
Clinical lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform or has transformed into a non-human animal or that he or she is an animal. Its name is connected to the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in...

, associated with certain personality disorder
Personality disorder
Personality disorders, formerly referred to as character disorders, are a class of personality types and behaviors. Personality disorders are noted on Axis II of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV-TR of the American Psychiatric Association.Personality disorders are...

s. He wrote the following on this particular type of melancholia: "Its victim behaves like a rooster and cries like a dog, the patient wanders among the tombs at night, his eyes are dark, his mouth is dry, the patient hardly ever recovers and the disease is hereditary
Heredity
Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring . This is the process by which an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism. Through heredity, variations exhibited by individuals can accumulate and cause some species to evolve...

."

In The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

(1020s), Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 dealt with neuropsychiatry
Neuropsychiatry
Neuropsychiatry is the branch of medicine dealing with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system. It preceded the current disciplines of psychiatry and neurology, in as much as psychiatrists and neurologists had a common training....

 and described a number of neuropsychiatric conditions, including melancholia. He described melancholia as a depressive
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

 type of mood disorder
Mood disorder
Mood disorder is the term designating a group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classification system where a disturbance in the person's mood is hypothesized to be the main underlying feature...

 in which the person may become suspicious and develop certain types of phobia
Phobia
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational...

s. The Canon of Medicine was also translated into Latin in the 12th century.

In his study of French and Burgundian courtly culture, Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga , was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.-Life:Born in Groningen as the son of Dirk Huizinga, a professor of physiology, and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after his birth, he started out as a student of Indo-Germanic languages, earning his...

 noted that "at the close of the Middle Ages, a sombre melancholy weighs on people's souls." In chronicles, poems, sermons, even in legal documents, an immense sadness, a note of despair and a fashionable sense of suffering and deliquescence at the approaching end of times, suffuses court poets and chroniclers alike: Huizinga quotes instances in the ballads of Eustache Deschamps
Eustache Deschamps
Eustache Deschamps was a medieval French poet, also known as Eustache Morel . Born at Vertus, in Champagne, he received lessons in versification from Guillaume de Machaut and later studied law at Orleans University. He then traveled through Europe as a diplomatic messenger for Charles V...

, "monotonous and gloomy variations of the same dismal theme", and in Georges Chastellain
Georges Chastellain
Georges Chastellain , Burgundian chronicler and poet, was a native of Aalst in Flanders. In spite of excessive partiality to the Duke of Burgundy, Chastellain's historical works are valuable for the accurate information they contain. As a poet he was famous among his contemporaries...

's prologue to his Burgundian chronicle, and in the late fifteenth-century poetry of Jean Meschinot
Jean Meschinot
Jean Meschinot was a Breton poet who wrote in French at the court of the dukes of Brittany. His birthplace was in the Mortiers domain, around 30km south of Nantes, capital of the duchy, and he came from the minor nobility...

. Ideas of reflection and the workings of imagination are blended in the term merencolie, embodying for contemporaries "a tendency", observes Huizinga, "to identify all serious occupation of the mind with sadness".

The most extended treatment of melancholia comes from Robert Burton
Robert Burton (scholar)
Robert Burton was an English scholar at Oxford University, best known for the classic The Anatomy of Melancholy. He was also the incumbent of St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, and of Segrave in Leicestershire.-Life:...

, whose The Anatomy of Melancholy
The Anatomy of Melancholy
The Anatomy of Melancholy The Anatomy of Melancholy The Anatomy of Melancholy (Full title: The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections...

(1621) treats the subject from both a literary and a medical perspective
Perspective (cognitive)
Perspective in theory of cognition is the choice of a context or a reference from which to sense, categorize, measure or codify experience, cohesively forming a coherent belief, typically for comparing with another...

. Burton wrote in the 16th century that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness, especially melancholia.

But to leave all declamatory speeches in praise [3481]of divine music, I will confine myself to my proper subject: besides that excellent power it hath to expel many other diseases, it is a sovereign remedy against [3482] despair and melancholy, and will drive away the devil himself. Canus, a Rhodian fiddler, in [3483]Philostratus, when Apollonius was inquisitive to know what he could do with his pipe, told him, "That he would make a melancholy man merry, and him that was merry much merrier than before, a
lover more enamoured, a religious man more devout." Ismenias the Theban, [3484]Chiron the centaur, is said to have cured this and many other diseases by music alone: as now they do those, saith [3485]Bodine, that are troubled with St. Vitus's Bedlam dance.


A famous allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 by Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

 is entitled Melencolia I
Melencolia I
Melencolia I is a 1514 engraving by the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer. It is an allegorical composition which has been the subject of many interpretations...

. This engraving portrays melancholia as the state of waiting for inspiration to strike, and not necessarily as a depressive affliction. Amongst other allegorical symbols, the picture includes a magic square
Magic square
In recreational mathematics, a magic square of order n is an arrangement of n2 numbers, usually distinct integers, in a square, such that the n numbers in all rows, all columns, and both diagonals sum to the same constant. A normal magic square contains the integers from 1 to n2...

, and a truncated rhombohedron
Rhombohedron
In geometry, a rhombohedron is a three-dimensional figure like a cube, except that its faces are not squares but rhombi. It is a special case of a parallelepiped where all edges are the same length....

. The image in turn inspired a passage in The City of Dreadful Night by James Thomson (B.V.)
James Thomson (B.V.)
James Thomson , who wrote under the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, was a Scottish Victorian-era poet famous primarily for the long poem The City of Dreadful Night , an expression of bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment.-Life:Thomson was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland, and, after...

, and, a few years later, a sonnet by Edward Dowden
Edward Dowden
Edward Dowden , was an Irish critic and poet.He was the son of John Wheeler Dowden, a merchant and landowner, and was born at Cork, three years after his brother John, who became Bishop of Edinburgh in 1886. Edward's literary tastes emerged early, in a series of essays written at the age of twelve...

.

Cult of melancholia


During the early 17th century, a curious cultural and literary cult of melancholia arose in England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. It was believed that religious uncertainties caused by the English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

 and a greater attention being paid to issues of sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, damnation, and salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

, led to this effect.

In music, the post-Elizabethan cult of melancholia is associated with John Dowland
John Dowland
John Dowland was an English Renaissance composer, singer, and lutenist. He is best known today for his melancholy songs such as "Come, heavy sleep" , "Come again", "Flow my tears", "I saw my Lady weepe" and "In darkness let me dwell", but his instrumental music has undergone a major revival, and has...

, whose motto was Semper Dowland, semper dolens. ("Always Dowland, always mourning.") The melancholy man, known to contemporaries as a "malcontent," is epitomized by Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

, the "Melancholy Dane."

Another literary expression of this cultural mood comes from the death-obsessed later works of John Donne
John Donne
John Donne 31 March 1631), English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are notable for their strong and sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs,...

. Other major melancholic authors include Sir Thomas Browne
Thomas Browne
Sir Thomas Browne was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric....

, and Jeremy Taylor
Jeremy Taylor
Jeremy Taylor was a clergyman in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. He is sometimes known as the "Shakespeare of Divines" for his poetic style of expression and was often presented as a model of prose writing...

, whose Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial
Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial
Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, or a Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk, is a work by Sir Thomas Browne, published in 1658 as the first part of a two-part work that concludes with The Garden of Cyrus....

and Holy Living and Holy Dying
Holy Living and Holy Dying
Holy Living and Holy Dying is the collective title of two books of Christian devotion by Jeremy Taylor. They were originally published as The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living, 1650 and The Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying, 1651....

,
respectively, contain extensive meditations on death.

A similar phenomenon, though not under the same name, occurred during Sturm und Drang
Sturm und Drang
Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism...

, with such works as The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787...

by Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 or in Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 with works such as Ode on Melancholy
Ode on Melancholy
"Ode on Melancholy" is a poem written by John Keats in the spring of 1819. In the spring of that year, Keats wrote the poem along with "Ode on a Grecian Urn", "Ode to a Nightingale", "Ode on Indolence", and "Ode to Psyche". In the Autumn of that year, Keats wrote "To Autumn", which completed his ...

by John Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

. In the 20th century, much of the counterculture of modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 was fueled by comparable alienation
Social alienation
The term social alienation has many discipline-specific uses; Roberts notes how even within the social sciences, it “is used to refer both to a personal psychological state and to a type of social relationship”...

 and a sense of purposelessness called "anomie
Anomie
Anomie is a term meaning "without Law" to describe a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community ties, with fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French...

"; earlier artistic preoccupation with death has gone under the rubric of memento mori
Memento mori
Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die". It names a genre of artistic work which varies widely, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality...

.

In Islam


The Arabic word found as ḥuzn and ḥazan in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and hüzün in modern Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 refers to the pain and sorrow over a loss, death of relatives in the case of the Qur'an. Two schools further interpreted this feeling. The first sees it as a sign that one is too attached to the material world, while Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 took it to represent a feeling of personal insufficiency, that one was not getting close enough to God and did not or could not do enough for God in this world. The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk
Ferit Orhan Pamuk , generally known simply as Orhan Pamuk, is a Turkish novelist. He is also the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where he teaches comparative literature and writing....

, in the book Istanbul: Memories and the City, further elaborates on the added meaning hüzün has acquired in modern Turkish. It has come to denote a sense of failure in life, lack of initiative and to retreat into oneself, symptoms quite similar to melancholia. According to Pamuk it was a defining character of cultural works from Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. One may see similarities with how melancholic romantic paintings in the west sometimes used ruins from the age of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 as a backdrop.

As a parallel with physicians of classical Greece, ancient Arabic physicians
Islamic medicine
In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine, Arabic medicine or Arabian medicine refers to medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islamic civilization....

 and psychologists
Islamic psychology
Islamic psychology translates the term ʿIlm al-Nafs the science of the Nafs and refers to the medical and philosophical study of the psyche from an Islamic perspective...

 also categorized ḥuzn as a disease. Al-Kindi (c. 801–873 CE) links it with disease-like mental states like anger, passion, hatred and depression, while Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 (980–1037 CE) diagnosed ḥuzn in a lovesick man if his pulse increased drastically when the name of the girl he loved was spoken. Avicenna suggests, in remarkable similarity with Robert Burton, many causes for melancholy, including the fear of death, intrigues surrounding one's life, and lost love. As remedies, he recommends treatments addressing both the medical and philosophical sources of the melancholy, including rational thought, morale, discipline, fasting and coming to terms with the catastrophe.

The various uses of ḥuzn and hüzün thus describe melancholy from a certain vantage point, show similarities with Female hysteria
Female hysteria
Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the...

 in the case of Avicenna's patient and in a religious context it is not unlike sloth
Seven deadly sins
The 7 Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin...

, which by Dante
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

 was defined as "failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind and all one's soul". Thomas Aquinas described sloth as "an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs upon man's mind, that he wants to do nothing".

See also

  • Depression (mood)
    Depression (mood)
    Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

  • Dysthymia
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Melancholic depression
    Melancholic depression
    Melancholic depression, or 'depression with melancholic features' is a subtype of major depression characterized by major depressive disorder with the following specific features: anhedonia , severe weight loss, psychomotor agitation or retardation, insomnia with early morning awakenings, guilt...

  • Nostalgia
    Nostalgia
    The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of , meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and , meaning "pain, ache"...

  • Saudade
    Saudade
    Saudade ) is a unique Galician-Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English. Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return...

  • Vapours (disease)
    Vapours (disease)
    The term referring to illnesses known as Vapours is an archaic form for certain mental or physical states, such as hysteria, mania, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, fainting, withdrawal syndrome, mood swings or PMS, ascribed primarily to women and thought to be caused by internal emanations....

  • Weltschmerz
    Weltschmerz
    Weltschmerz is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind...


Other notes

  • Melancholia is a specific form of mental illness characterized by depressed mood, abnormal motor functions, and abnormal vegetative signs. It has been identified in medical writings from antiquity and was best characterized in the 19th Century. In the 20th Century, with the interest in psychoanalytic writing, "major depression" became the principal class in psychiatric classifications. [See Taylor MA, Fink M: Melancholia for details of history.]
  • In 1996, Gordon Parker and Dusan Hadzi-Pavlovic described Melancholia as a specific disorder of movement and mood. [Melancholia" A Disorder of Movement and Mood, Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996]. More recently, MA Taylor and M Fink crystallized the present image of melancholia as a systemic disorder that is identifiable by depressive mood rating scales, verified by the present of abnormal cortisol metabolism (abnormal dexamethasone suppression test), and validated by rapid and effective remission with ECT or tricyclic antidepressant agents. It has many forms, including retarded depression, psychotic depression, post-partum depression and psychosis, abnormal bereavement.

External links