Acedia and Its Relation to Depression

In Josefa Ros Velasco (ed.), The Faces of Depression in Literature. Bern, Switzerland: pp. 3-27 (forthcoming)

Derek McAllister
Dixie State University
There has been recent work on acedia and its relationship to depression, but the results are a mixed bag. In this essay, I engage some recent scholarship comparing acedia with depression, endeavouring to clarify the concept of acedia using literature from theology, philosophy, psychiatry, and even a 16th-century treatise on witchcraft. Along the way, I will show the following key theses. First, the concept of acedia is not identical to the concept of depression. Acedia is not merely a primitive psychological predecessor to depression, but it marks off significantly different ways of being, not least because of one’s spiritual relation to God. As Lucrèce Luciani-Zidane (2009: 13) has said, “acedia is entangled in the heart (or life) of Christian dogma.” Second, however, it is still possible that an instance of acedia can coincide with an instance of depression, if one’s condition, or state, is such that each term can be correctly and truthfully applied. By the conclusion of this piece, I begin to explore what practical implications this view has for practitioners and laypersons.
Keywords Acedia  Depression  Sloth  Desert Fathers  Gregory the Great  Thomas Aquinas  melancholy  History of Psychiatry  DSM  Theory Replacement  Suffering
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Naming and Necessity.Saul A. Kripke - 1980 - Harvard University Press.
Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits.Søren Kierkegaard - 1993 - In Edna H. Hong (ed.), The Essential Kierkegaard. Princeton University Press. pp. 269-276.

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Philosophy of Boredom.Andreas Elpidorou & Josefa Velasco - forthcoming - Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.

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