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Seides, S.W. (1989). Melancholia and Depression. From Hippocratic Times to Modern Times: By Stanley W. Jackson. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1986. 441 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:137-140.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:137-140

Melancholia and Depression. From Hippocratic Times to Modern Times: By Stanley W. Jackson. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1986. 441 pp.

Review by:
S. Warren Seides

With this opus, Stanley W. Jackson has given us a labor of love. He has also given us an indication of his love of labor. He writes that his professional lifetime of efforts to ameliorate the distress of various sufferers, many of them depressed, gradually joined with his associated interest in the history of medicine and psychiatry. Together, these became focused on tracing the consistency and co-herence in the cluster of symptoms and signs referred to as melancholia and depression over a time frame of approximately twenty-five hundred years (pp. ix-x). So the journey begins. It is a journey that delves into the theories that have evolved to explain the etiology and pathogenesis of melancholia and depression. Considerable effort is spent in distinguishing depression as a clinical pathological condition, a disease, from some other assemblage of signs and symptoms. A history of the passions and emotions, the affects, then becomes relevant, as do the physiological and biological substrates of depression. Treatment modalities for depressive diatheses, which often parallel those utilized to treat other diseases in general medicine, are surveyed and compared. Attention is also paid to belief systems other than medicine, such as religion, for dealing with dejected states of mind.

As he extracts quotations to elucidate many writers' ideas on melancholia, the author simultaneously provides us with glimpses and reflections on the more general medical thinking of the various times.

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