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Bychowski, G. (1960). Symposium on 'Depressive Illness'—Iv. the Structure of Chronic and Latent Depressions. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:504-508.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:504-508

Symposium on 'Depressive Illness'—Iv. the Structure of Chronic and Latent Depressions

Gustav Bychowski

In clinical terms, latent and chronic depressions can be easily differentiated as two types of the same depressive disease, both being related to a melancholic depression. I use the phrase 'latent depression' as a parallel to latent schizophrenia, thus designating a borderline condition. Here the depressive core is masked by a façade compounded of character traits and neurotic symptomatology. Obsessive compulsive character structure underlies obsessive or phobic symptoms, interspersed with trends of hysterical emotionality and suggestibility. Depressive reactions may occur at the slightest provocation. Time and again, the picture becomes enriched by a hypomanic excitability and exaltation verging on, or leading to, hypomania. Yet these moments are rather rare, except in more obvious cases of cyclothymia which then no longer qualify to be included under the term 'latent depression'.

In chronic depressions, the pervading manifest mood is that of gloom with general pessimism and a feeling of futility. Yet some patients are nevertheless able to continue their existence with considerable determination, especially if aided by some strong moral or religious principle, or by an ideology. But if this is lacking and the total personality belongs to the so-called asthenic group, then the general picture is that of hopeless, pessimistic futility.

Paranoid symptoms may occur in both clinical groups, either intermittently or as a permanent undertone. In special forms, a peculiar combination of depressive and schizophrenic symptomatology exists, with both psychotic elements either latent or tending to become manifest.

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