, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 34-35
Date: 16 Mar 2011

Melancholy and the claim for relation

This is an excerpt from the content

Within the full range of diseases, madness has ever been a challenge for physicians, in perennial oscillation between science and magic, natural and supernatural, body and soul. The history of melancholy helps us in a better understanding of this aspect of medicine.

Melancholy has cultural and etymological roots deep in the doctrine of the four humours (Hippocrates): melancholia (literally black bile) refers to mental disturbation, and in the Middle Ages was considered as sloth or laziness: a capital sin. Until the seventeenth century, treatises primarily dealt with the relationship between disease and sin, between the humours of the body and witchcraft, between reason and passion. In the Renaissance, its aspect of sweet reflection and sorrow that pervades a person’s character making him/her perceptive and introspective, became also the character of the artist, whose outlook appeared to combine elements from dreams, meditation, magic and alchemy. In his famous etching: “Melancholy”, Dür