Dissertation, Baylor University (2020)

Derek McAllister
Dixie State University
This dissertation is part history, part analysis. It surveys prima facie historical antecedents to our current clinical concept of depression—a chapter each on acedia, tristitia, noche oscura, melancholia, and Tungsindighed. The analytic portion compares and contrasts each historical condition with depression, examining symptoms, etiology, historical context, 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—unlike depression, which is often seen as a pathological psychiatric condition. More than a mere historical recounting, however, this dissertation also engages critically with the contemporary literature on depression and offers strategies for incorporating the “old” forgotten wisdom with the “new” discipline of psychiatry. This dissertation thus brings together the history of philosophy, philosophy of religion, virtue ethics, and philosophy of psychology and psychiatry, featuring themes from Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, and the Desert Fathers, among others.
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