Melancholy and the Care of the Soul: Religion, Moral Philosophy and Madness in Early Modern England
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 1. jan. 2007 - 217 sider
Melancholy is rightly taken to be a central topic and concern of early modern culture, and it continues to generate scholarly interest among historians of medicine, literature, psychiatry, and religion. This book considerably furthers our understanding of the issue by examining the extensive discussions of the treatment of melancholy provided in seventeenth and eighteenth century religious and moral philosophical publications, many of which have received only scant attention from modern scholars. Arguing that melancholy was considered by many early modern writers to be as much a disease of the mind as a condition which originated in some physiological disturbance, Dr Schmidt reveals how religious consolation and spiritual confession were employed as important elements of the treatment. This underlines a common contemporary view that mental illness was regarded as in some way related to a sinful condition, rather than a guiltless medical problem.The book also explores ways in which the language used to express and treat melancholy shaped the experience of melancholy and its behavioural manifestations, suggesting that the use of religious languages to treat the condition could enable the sufferer to conceive of themselves as struggling with the kinds of moral and spiritual problems that beset their contemporaries. As a study in intellectual history, Melancholy and the Care of the Soul offers new insights into early modern texts on melancholy, including dramatic and literary representations of melancholy and melancholic suffering, and critically engages with a broad range of current scholarship dealing with early modern medical, religious and cultural issues.
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