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From Melancholia to Prozac: A history of depression [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Clark Lawlor

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23. Februar 2012
Depression is an experience known to millions. But arguments rage on aspects of its definition and its impact on societies present and past: do drugs work, or are they merely placebos? Is the depression we have today merely a construct of the pharmaceutical industry? Is depression under- or over-diagnosed? Should we be paying for expensive 'talking cure' treatments like psychoanalysis or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? Here, Clark Lawlor argues that understanding the history of depression is important to understanding its present conflicted status and definition. While it is true that our modern understanding of the word 'depression' was formed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the condition was originally known as melancholia, and characterised by core symptoms of chronic causeless sadness and fear. Beginning in the Classical period, and moving on to the present, Lawlor shows both continuities and discontinuities in the understanding of what we now call depression, and in the way it has been represented in literature and art. Different cultures defined and constructed melancholy and depression in ways sometimes so different as to be almost unrecognisable. Even the present is still a dynamic history, in the sense that the 'new' form of depression, defined in the 1980s and treated by drugs like Prozac, is under attack by many theories that reject the biomedical model and demand a more humanistic idea of depression - one that perhaps returns us to a form of melancholy.

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A well researched ... thought-provoking book The Economist the incorporation of a large variety of ideas and models of melancholy into one easily readable (and affordable) overview makes this a useful starting point for student discussion, or for those with no particular background in the history of psychiatry. Sarah Chaney, Social History of Medicine

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Clark Lawlor is Reader in English Literature at Northumbria University, and is especially interested in the cultural history of disease. He has been publishing work on the history and representation of depression recently, partly as a result of his co-Directorship of Before Depression, a Leverhulme Trust-funded project on the nature of depression in the eighteenth century. Before his interest in depression he published Consumption and Literature: The Making of the Romantic Disease (2006), which describes how consumption (tuberculosis) came to be such a glamorous disease by the nineteenth century.

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Von Ermanno Arreghini - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A very useful and well written book, not only on behalf of anyone interested in history of psychiatry but of psychiatrists as well. Being a psychiatrist (and an historian, even though doing only local-history research in the psychiatric field) I found the conclusions which Prof. Lawlor gets to especially relevant and enlightened. I would like to signal a trivial editing mistake which has to be corrected in the next edition: p. 146 + index: Wilhelm REICH and not RIECH, while I felt as missing the fundamental an perhaps definite contribution on melancholy and creativity given by Rudolf Wittkower (Born under saturn) which is not quoted in the book.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen The Enigmatic, Confounding Nature of Depression 2. Juli 2012
Von Serge J. Van Steenkiste - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Clark Lawlor does a decent job in explaining to his audience that what is known today as depression had been called melancholia for many centuries. After reading this book, readers will realize that the exact nature of depression is still mired in controversy. Is depression culturally, socially, and/or biologically determined? The answer to this fundamental question has an impact on its treatment. Does a depressive need a magic bullet like Prozac, extended cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or psychoanalysis? Unfortunately, Mr. Lawlor does not tackle systematically what can be done to minimize the risk of the occurrence of depression in a given population. Similarly, the author does not discuss the prevalence of depression, its costs to the employers of depressives, and more generally its monetary toll on the social security system of the developed economies. In summary, the book under review will leave some readers "hungry" for a more thorough, comprehensive treatment of this amorphous phenomenon.
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