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Monday, 21 February 2011

the anatomy of melancholy

A sign of our modern era? A story (admittedly a few months old) on the BBC website about the way we relate to depression. In times gone past we may not have been as swift to medicalise certain sensations rather we might have lived through them. This is given credibility by range of vocabulary we once employed to describe sadness. From melancholy to anomie and mal du pays, this range of words suggests both a more acute observation of such conditions that was more than clinical and was rooted in both a personal and social context. what would it say about one nation's mood that its exiles might be more inclined to the yearning for their homeland as described by mal du pays?

is this condition not one of the great common themes of both joyce's ulysses and the original odyssey?

We have learned much about the brain and about mental illness and where that has helped individuals it emphatically needs to be applauded. One cannot help but wonder though if our flawed notion of happiness as a default state creates a fear of unhapiness as a malady requiring remedy. Mary Kenny, the author of the piece, may well be right.

1 comment:

sonia soans said...

We don't care about the content of the feelings but the fact that those feelings exist. our treatment of depression is about eliminating the symptom rather than the cause.

We have created these feelings for people, we have all come to accept that we are flawed in our genetic make up and therefore inescapable.