Fallow Season: An Historical Case for aSpiritual Etiology of Depression
Abstract This dissertation work is part historical, part analysis. It surveys prima facie historical predecessors to depression—a chapter each on acedia, tristitia, noche oscura, melancholia, and Tungsindighed. The analytic portion compares and contrasts each historical condition with depression, examining their symptoms, etiology, historical circumstances, and more. As it turns out, many, if not all, of these historical conditions can present with or essentially have some kind of spiritual etiology. I argue that if they are symptomatically similar enough to depression, and if human nature retains a general continuity over time, then we have good reason to think that there are at least some kinds of depression that have a spiritual etiology. (This does not entail that all cases of depression will be spiritual in kind, as others may have a biochemical etiology, an allostatic etiology, a systemic social inequality etiology, or else.) This philosophically-minded historical case for a spiritual etiology of depression dovetails with recent clinical and empirical studies, as well as with recently proposed theoretical frameworks, which associate depression with spiritual or religious factors. This dissertation thus brings together the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, virtue ethics, and philosophy of psychology and psychiatry (especially mental health), featuring themes from Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, and the Desert Fathers, among others.
└ Despair, Ruth Freeman, 1981.
└ Major Depressive Disorder, Shawn Coss, 2014. [link]
└ Acedia, Bellini, 1480.
└ St. Thomas Aquinas.
└ Tristezza, Johann Christoph Storer, 1645.
└ San Juan de la Cruz, Alexander Leal Cid, c.2008. [link]
└ The Weary One (Der Müde), Ernst Barlach, 1916.
└ Melencolia I, Albrecht Dürer, 1514.
└ A man whose face exemplifies the melancholy temperament, Johann Caspar Lavater, c.1789.
└ The Spleen (Melancholy), Ch. Boirau, c.1915.
└ Kierkegaard caricature, Wilhelm Marstrand, 1870. [link]
└ Pilgrim's Progress Giant Despair sitting in Doubting Castle, 1912.
└ Melancholia, Sebald Beham, c.1539.
└ Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy frontispiece, 1628.
└ The Solitary Prisoner, Harry Furniss, 1910. [link]
└ Malinconia, Cesare Ripa, c.1600.