MELANCHOLY: A BRIEF HISTORY OF AN ANCIENT CONCEPT

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Number of pages: 18-22
Year-Number: 2021-39

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Abstract

This research note provides the intended readers with a basic outline of the historical transformation, social categorization, and medical classification of melancholy as disease, disorder, temperament (disposition), and mood (state of mind) throughout the ages, beginning with ancient Greece. It attempts to give a brief account of the chronological change in understanding, explanation, and interpretation of the concept of melancholy and the melancholy states until the 20th and 21st centuries, when it is rather begun to be regarded as an emotional response to an unconscious loss and lack, and eventually a transient emotion. This review aims to serve as a useful introduction to the melancholy studies and for the researchers, particularly for those who aim to develop a clear and concrete idea about the field. It is chiefly based upon the theories suggested by the eminent scholars of each period, Aristotle, Galen, Avicenna, Hippocrates, Robert Burton, and George Cheyne, and their erudite works. Within this framework, the present research note is respectively focused on the Ancient Greek times (referring to the conventional notion of melancholy characterized by the theory of humours), the medieval period, the Renaissance age, the seventeenth century, and, lastly, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as a whole to explore the internal and external histories of the term.

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