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But European philosophers resisted this tendency.

attitude is summed up by Sartre in a fragment from his note-
books of 1947-48 entitled "The American Way: Technical
Civilization, hence Generality": "This is what mass media,
best seller, book of the month, best record, Gallup, Oscar,
etc., tend to do," he wrote, leaving all the important words
in English. "It is a matter of presenting to the isolated exem-
plar the of the totality" (Notebooks for an Ethics). Back
in Germany, Adorno also took his distance from a term that
he had resorted to repeatedly while in exile. In "The Culture
Industry Reconsidered;' first delivered as a radio address in
1963, he argued that "the very word mass-media [Massen-
medien], specially honed for the culture industry, already
shifts the accent onto harmless terrain. Neither is it a ques-
tion of primary concern for the masses, nor of the techniques
of communication as such, but of the spirit which sufflates
them, their master's voice:' for Sartre, Adorno, and their con-
temporaries, "mass media" was less an untranslatable than
an untouchable sullied by intellectual and institutional as-
sociations with American cultural imperialism. The entry in
the current edition of the RT: Dictionnaire de I'Academie fran-
reflects this sense of its origins: "Media. n. m. XXe siecle.
Abreviation de l'anglais des Etats-Unis mass media, de meme
This resistance was soon exhausted. In the late 1960s, the
German publishers of Marshall McLuhan's Understanding
Media settled on the weirdly operatic title Die magichen Kanale.
At the end of the century, a collection of McLuhan's writ-
ings appeared under the title Medien Verstehen: Der McLuhan-
Reader (1998). In france, in the 19905, Regis Debray launched
the excellent Cahiers de mediologle, devoting issues to themes
like theatricality and bicycles; more recently he started a re-
view entitled, simply, Medium. Cognates like "multimedia;'
"remediation," and "mediality" proliferate globally. This re-
flects less the dominance of English than the collective ur-
gency of an intellectual project. "for the moment," Jean-Luc
Nancy writes, "it is less important to respond to the ques-
tion of the meaning of Being than it is to pay attention to
the fact of its exhibition. If 'communication' is for us, today,
such an affair-in every sense of the word ... -if its theo-
ries are flourishing, if its technologies are being proliferated,
if the 'mediatization' of the 'media' brings along with it an
auto-communicational vertigo, if one plays around with the
theme of the indistinctness between the 'message' and the
'medium' out of either a disenchanted or jubilant fascina-
tion, then it is because something is exposed or laid bare"
(Being Singular Plural).
Ben Kafka
Adorno, Theodor W "Resume uber Kulturindustrie." In Ohne Leitbild. Frankfurt:
Suhrhampf Verlag, 1967. Translation by Anson G. Rabinbach: "Culture Industry
Reconsidered." New German Critique 6 (Fall 1975): 12-19.
Babbage, Charles. Passages from the Life ofa Philosopher. London: Longman, Green,
Bacon, Francis. The Major Works. Edited by Brian Vickers. Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2002.
Freud, Sigmund. "Psychische Behandlung (Seelenbehandlung):'ln Gesammelte Werke,
vol. 5. London: Imago Publishing, 1942. Translation by Jean Laplanche: "Traitement
psychique (traitement In Resultats, idees, problemes I. (1890-1920). Paris:
Presses Universitaires de France, 19B4. Translation by James Strachey: "Psychical
(or Mental) Treatment" In vol. 7 of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psycho-
logical Works ofSigmund Freud, edited by James Strachey. London: Hogarth Press,
George, John. A Treatise on the Offence of Libel, with a Disquisition on the Right. Ben-
efits, and Proper Boundaries ofPolitical Discussion. London: Taylor and Hessey, 1812.
Reprinted in The Monthly Review 73 (January-April) 1814.
Gitelman, lisa, and Theresa M. Collins. "Medium light Revisiting Edisonian Modernity:
CritlcolQuarterlY51, no. 2 (JulpOO9):1-14.
Huxley, Julian. Unesco: Its Purpose andIts Philosophy. UNESCO Preparatory Commission,
1946. links to these versions, along with Spanish, RUSSian, Arabic, and Chinese,
can be found at http://www.onlineunesco.org/UNESC0%2oConstitution.html
(accessed 1 Sept 2009).
Madison, James. Federalist Paper no. 37. In The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton,
James Madison, and John Jay, edited by Terence Ball. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 2003. Translation by [Trudaine de la Sabliere?]: Le fI!deraliste, ou Collection
du quelques errits en faveurde 10 constitution proposeeauxttats-Uni,. Vol. 2. Paris: Chez
Buisson, 1792. Translation by Gaston Jeze: Le Federaliste (commentaire de la constitu-
tion des Etats-Unl'). Paris: V. Girard & E. Briere, 1902.
Montaigne, Michel de. "Apology for Raymond Sebond:'ln The Complete Essays, trans-
lated by Michael Andrew Screech. New York: Penguin, 1993.
--.The Essayes ofMichael Lord ofMantaigne. Translated by John Florio. London:
George, Routledge, 1886. First published in 1803.
Nancy, Jean-luc Being Singular Plural. Translated by Robert D. Richardson and Anne
E. O'Byrne. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Peirce, Charles S. "The Basis of Pragmatism in the Normative Sciences:' In The Essen-
tial Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, vol. 2 (1893-1913). Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 199B.
Sarlre, Jean-Paul. Notebooks for an Ethics. Translated by David Pellauer. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Scott, Walter Dill. The Theory of Advertising; A Simple Exposition of the Principles of
Psychology in Their Relation to Successful Advertising. Boston: Small, Maynard, and
Company, 1904.
Skinner, Quentin. Visions ofPolitics. Vol. 2; Renaissance Virtues. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2002.
Weber, Samuel. Benjamin's -abilities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.
FRENCH melancolie
GERMAN Melancholie, Schwermut
GREEK melagcholia [pfAlXYXOAla]
LATIN melancholia, furor
Although we can date the origin of what we know as modern
psychiatry back to the work of Philippe Pinel-whose Medico-
Philosophical Treatise on Mental Alienation or Mania (year IX, 1801)
signaled both the autonomy of mental illness as a field of study
separate from physiology and the application of new clinical and
institutional practices to the treatment of patients-the study of
mental illness, or of madness, as a discipline has a longer history
that goes back to antiquity. The word "melancholy" at that time
referred to a state of sadness and anxiety, without a fever, and most
often accompanied by an obsession, or near delirium, this state
being marked by an excess of black bile, which some authors con-
sidered to be the cause of the illness and others as a concomitant
The word "melancholy;' then, comes originally from the Hippo-
cratic theory of the humors (melas "black"; chole [xoAr]l.
"bi/e"), as well as from a chemical theory of fermentation and of
vapors, and would continue to be understood more or less explicitly
as such until the nineteenth century, even though "melancholy"
tended by then to refer to a state of mental alienation that was
increasingly distinct from physiology. By exploring the history of the
term and the shifts in its meaning, we can thus identify four themes
and points of reference to consider diachronically: the conception of
humor, the symptom of obseSSion, lovesickness, and the nature of
genius. The way in which we will discuss them will help us to differ-
entiate between the major trends of English, German, and French
psychiatry, and the typologies that they propose.
One might have thought that the general application in psychia-
try of the assessment scales of humor-In its psychological sense,
close to the Greek thumos and its disorders (du5thumia
[oucr8uj.lla])-would have attenuated the former denotations of the
term "melancholy:' It seems, however, that modern approaches to
melancholy-particularly as it is manifested In mourning, psycho-
motor slowing down, generalized negativism, or intellectual hyper-
lucidity-are on the contrary reviving the figures as they were used
by writers in antiquity, in that they pertain more to actual psycho-
logical mechanisms than to simple semantic analogies.
I. The Ambiguity of the Concept
From the perspective of contemporary psychiatry, melan-
choly is something of a paradox, in that it has to take account
both of the relativity of a nosology that has largely been su-
perseded by our understanding of how complex affections
are, and also of the uniformity of a semiology determined by
the different scales of assessment of the symptoms (for the
most part American) which European psychiatry is compelled
to use as its points of reference. Nevertheless, melancholy
still seems to elude any attempt at a definitive classification,
as can be seen, for example, in the shift from DSM III (Diagnos-
tic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) (1980) to DSM JJI-R
(1987), and then DSM IV (1994), which sees a modification of
the diagnostic signs of melancholy, as well as in the elM (clas-
sification internationale des maladies de I'OMS), known as the
!CD in English, which practically eliminates it.
The problem is not a new one, andJean-Etienne Esquirol, in
his work De la Iypemanie ou melancolie (On Iypemania or melan-
choly) (1820), already wrote that "the word melancholy, widely
used in ordinary language to express the habitual sadness of
a few individuals, must be left to the moralists and poets, who
do not have to be as rigorous as doctors with their expres-
sions. This term can be retained and used to describe the
temperament in which the hepatic system is predominant,
and to refer to the disposition to obsessive ideas and sadness,
while the word monomania expresses an abnormal state of
physical or moral sensibility, with an unconscious and per-
manent delirium." Esquirol adopted the word lypemania (lupe
[AliTr1']], "sadness") in place of "melancholy;' and used the lat-
ter term to refer on the one hand to a disposition of the tem-
perament-a permanent state (hexis a predisposition
(proclivitas)-and on the other, to the open manifestation of
the illness, a punctual, accidental state (diathesis
the manifestation of the ill (nosos [vocrod nosema [vocr1']j.lu]).
The interest of this ambiguity particular to "melan-
choly" as a term is expressed throughout the history of
psychiatry, whose origin can be traced back to the end of
the eighteenth century with the practice of "moral treat-
ment." via two paradoxical semiological forms, made up
of contradictory traits, such as the signs of genius and
of madness on the one hand, and the signs of what was
permanent and accidental on the other. The dispositional
characteristics of genius were thus manifestations of a
humor that could just as easily lead to madness, as a re-
sult of a momentary disturbance of thymic equilibrium.
Although European psychiatry is still relatively young, it
does not for all that challenge the traditional historical
sources from which it emerged, both medical and philo-
sophical, however attentive it appears to be to interna-
tional (for the most part originally American) systems of
diagnosis. As testimony to this, we might take current de-
bates, often inspired by psychoanalysis, about the mean-
ing of the term "melancholy," in other words, about the
specific signs that guide its classification in the three
main traditional nosographic groups (neuroses, psycho-
ses, and perversions). Already in 1915, at the beginning
of his article "Mourning and Melancholia," Freud wrote:
"Melancholia [Melancholie], whose concept [Begriffsbestim-
mung] fluctuates even in descriptive psychiatry, takes on
various clinical forms the grouping together of which into
a Single unity does not seem to be established with cer-
tainty; and some of these forms suggest somatic rather
than psychogenic affections." The study of the concept is
further complicated if we take into account another tra-
dition, in parallel with the medical history of the shifts
in its uses and meanings, that is, the ethological tradi-
tion (ethos "custom," but which also deSignates a
set of cultural characteristics; see MORALS), which is no
doubt more literary, but which still has an influence on
the psychiatric approach. This is the very tradition that
Esquirol advised leaving to the moralists and poets, and
which draws on the mythical resources particular to dif-
ferent groups.
II. The Humoral Conception of Melancholy
The word "melancholy," as its etymology indicates, locates
the affection it refers to within the Hippocratic theory
of the four humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and
blood), which persisted into the nineteenth century, even
though interest in humoral theory waned in the second
half of the seventeenth century as scholars and others
switched their focus toward mental alienation, understood
increaSingly as a form of distraction or wandering. Indeed,
around this time a number of works appeared which, im-
bued with the scholarship of the Renaissance, itself built
upon Greek and Arabic sources, progressively made way for
a more mentalist conception of obsession or idee fixe, the
therapies for which took the form of purging and amuse-
ment or distraction (see CATHARSIS). So starting with the
conception of a complex chemistry in which heating and
fermentation were the main agents of transformation of
natural elements, the Hippocratic description of tempera-
ment (one could be melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic, or
sanguine) understood as a combination (krasis of
the four humors (chumoi [xuj.lof]), depending on how much
of each of them was present in different organs, would be
integrated into an already more modern conception ofa
pathology centered on mental disorders, and in relation
to which humor would only be one cause among several
The firstdefinition ofmelancholy is tobefound inapho-
rism23 ofbook6oftheAphorisms ofHippocrates:"Ifafright
ordespondency(dusthumia [8ucr8uJlLa]) lastsforalongtime,
itisamelancholicaffection"(The Genuine Works ofHippocrates,
Eng. trans.FrancisAdams).And Galen,who resurrectedhu-
moral theory in the second centuryCE and can serve as a
representative of Greco-Roman medicine, completed Hip-
pocrates's definition as follows: "Melancholy is a sickness
thatdamages the mind (gnome [YVWlll1]), with a feeling of
malaise(dusthumia) andan aversion towardthethings that
are mostcherished, withouta fever. In some ofthose who
are ill, an abundantand blackbile also attacks theesopha-
gus, so much sothattheyvomitandatthesame timetheir
mind is considerablyaffected"(Galen, Medical Definitions, 19
ofmelancholy, which is both etiological and semiological,
case, temperament(krasis) sufferedfrom anexcess ofblack
bile which, damaging the stomach (stomachos [crroJlaxo<;]),
affectedthesoulin itsvitalenergy. Melancholyindeedsug-
gests a mental pathology with a double cause, in humoral
tiondoes furtherworkstill.Although it is theexcessiveva-
pors ofback bile thatmostoftencloudthebrain, the same
resultcan be seen with the combustion oftheotherthree
up referring not only to the harmful effects ofblack bile,
butalso tothose ofthe otherthree humors whentheyare
and representative termfor madness, which comes from a
complexion or temperament that, even though it remains
natural, nonetheless predisposes an individual to this kind
It was forthisveryreasonthatotherwriters,andinpar-
ticularAretaeus ofCappadocia, extended thesemiology of
melancholywell beyond thesimple effects ofblackbile, to
include a more multiform disorder ofthe understanding.
Cicero, who favored this extension ofthe term, went as
far as to translate the melancholyoftheGreeks using the
termfuror, thus reducing melancholy toa"deepanger"or
to a "fury," as J. Pigeaud explains in his seminal work La
maladie de !'ame. In book 3 ofhis Tusca!anae, Cicero wrote:
"TheGreeks, indeed...havenoone wordthatwill express
it: what we call furor, they call JlAayxoAia [melagcholial,
as ifthe reason were affectedonly by a black bile, and not
disturbed as oftenby aviolent rage, orfear, orgrief.Thus
we say Athamas, Alcmreon, Ajax, and Orestes were raving
[furerel:' And according to R. Klibansky, E. Panofsky, and
F. Saxl, Cicero's intentionwas to "describe a convulsion of
of'atrabiliousness'"(Saturn and Melancholy).
This extension ofthe term "melancholy" still lies atthe
heart of the problematic in contemporary psychiatry, in
thesensethatsomepsychiatristslike tokeep"melancholy"
within the categoryofpsychoses, whereasothersprefer to
consider it as a specific structure, and yet others still are
natewiththeNeo-Stoics (Hippocrates, Galen, andtheirfol-
lowers). It was already presentin plato andAristotle, who
comparedmelancholy to thestate ofinebriation, andcon-
sidered thatthe multiple forms ofmelancholy reproduced
drunkenness'sdifferent degrees ofdistraction. platowrites
in The Republic: "Then a precise definition ofa tyrannical
man is one who, eitherby birth orby habit or both, com-
bines thecharacteristics ofdrunkenness,lust, andmadness
(melagcholikos [JlEA!XyXoAtxo<;]):' And in the famous Prob-
lem xxx, Aristotle, or PseudO-Aristotle, maintains that the
word "melancholy;'following thevarietyofmanifestations
ofinebriation according to the nature ofthe individuals,
deSignates the excessive and incomprehensible changes
acting upon them, orwhenever some external occurrence
stimulates it too aggressively: "In most people then black
immediatelydevelop diversecharacters in accordancewith
As a result ofthese successiveshifts in the meaning, then,
extensive semiology makes it impossible to establish a de-
finitiveandstablenosology.It suggestsan"essentiaIlypoly-
morphous"temperament,toborrowJ. Pigeaud's expression
from his commentary on Problem xxx, which possesses in
theirpotentialstate"allthecharacteristicsofall men."The
cholyhave accordinglyreliedonprivilegingsomeaspector
or mechanisms from the whole range ofmanifestations of
the illness soas to makethemadistinctivesignthatcorre-
spondsto asystemofclassification,whose relevantcriteria
can then beshared in advance. But theexperimental stud-
ies thatwere conducted with a view to achieving this aim
did notconfirm thehypotheSiS ofdifferential biologicalre-
action,so researchersthenfocused theireffortsonsomatic
lish the meaningoftheword"melancholy;' retrospectively
as it were, since it is accordingtohowpatients respondto
the different treatments administered to them that re-
searchers hope to confirm whether they can be classified
as melancholic ordepressive. In any case, we areforced to
return to the need to determine international assessment
criteria, oneofwhose manifest paradoxes is thattheygive
stand and measure melancholy accordingtoa quantitative
Giventheinherentlyvariablenatureof thenosographyof
melancholy,wecannotbutbe skepticalaprioriofthemany
ventures nowadays to isolate analytically the symptoms of
this way one would have to envisage a nosographic category
sufficiently broad to cover all of the apparently characteris-
tic signs of melancholy according to their intensity. This was
the category of depression, and the debate surrounding the
distinction between melancholy and depression, far from
disappearing, has grown even more complex as a result.
It would also be worth looking more closely at diagnostic
classifications, as well as the assessment scales of the inten-
sity of the symptoms, in particular, those relating to the psy-
chomotor disorder that is seen increasingly as an indication
of melancholy. This is because they show, on the one hand,
the mobility of the semiology of melancholy-and this is far
from insignificant when it is sometimes assigned psychotic
characteristics-and onthe other hand, the interest there is in
retaining the notion of humor (or mood, in the Anglo-Saxon
tradition). Humor or mood in this sense is obviously different
from the humoral theory of Hippocrates, and more closely
resembles the Greek notion of thumos understood
as the way in which one feels oneself, the self-perception of
one's own relationship to the world, a kind ofpsychic coenes-
thesia (see CONSCIOUSNESS, Box 1). AnglO-Saxon psychiatry is
most explicit in this regard, and uses the word "mood" for
this"coenesthetic" humor. We are now far removed from the
physical register in which the humors operated, however; no
longer would the word "moisture" be in any sense applicable
to this "coenesthetic" humor, though "moisture" is indeed
related to the liquid humor in the Hippocratic sense and, for
someone like Ben]onson, already referred metaphorically to
the general character of a man when all of his humors flowed
in the same direction:
So in every human body,
The choler, melancholy, phlegm, and blood,
By reason that they flow continually
In some one part, and are not continent,
Receive the name of humours. Now thus far
It may, by metaphor, apply itself
Unto the general disposition:
As when some one peculiar quality
Doth so possess a man, that it doth draw
All his affects, his spirits, and his powers,
In their confluctions, all to run one way,
This may be truly said to be a humour.
(Every Man Out ofHis Humour, 1.1)
In the same way, spleen would be considered as that vague
and sad humor which, as in ancient times, comes from an
accumulation of humor/moisture in the spleen, which was
where black bile was to be found, according to many physi-
cians (R. Blackmore, 1725). (See INGENIUM, Box 2, and SPLEEN.)
While contemporary psychiatry attempts to assess the
intensity of certain characteristic signs of humor, or mood.
with a view to establishing a psychiatric nosography that is
intended to be universal, it approaches melancholy in a num-
ber of different ways. These alternative approaches include,
on the one hand, phenomenological psychiatry, with its no-
tion of endogeneity, which goes back to clinical observation
of the behavior of the patient, and the description he himself
gives of his mood, and on the other hand, psychiatry inspired
by psychoanalysis, which identifies within the patient's
discourse the psychic mechanisms underlying the formation
of the symptoms. Here again, the meaning of the word "mel-
ancholy" will be subject to many modifications and shifts,
depending on the methodological approach adopted. So phe-
nomenological psychiatry will refer to melancholy as an ill-
ness of endogeneity by emphasizing its generic nature, and
psychoanalytically inspired psychiatry will describe it as a
narcissistic illness and will consider the nosological question
as secondary. If the former approach is still attached to the
notion of humor, this time in the sense ofthe inner sentiment
ofthe unfolding of a personal history (innere Lebensgeschichte),
the latter approach is attached to the various figures of mel-
ancholy, understood as formal models of psychic function,
some of which are already to be found in the annals of mod-
ern psychiatry, dating from the end of the eighteenth century.
A. Endon, Stimmung, Schwermut
Endogeneity, then, might provide a new interpretation of
modern humor, as useful to positivist psychiatry (with the
category of "endogenous depression") as it is to phenomeno-
logical psychiatry, which attempts to account for the notion of
melancholy itself. Hubertus Tellenbach, heir to the great Ger-
man phenomenological psychiatric trend of the first half of
the twentieth century (with, among others, E. Strauss, V. E. von
Gebsattel, and L. Binswanger), proposed a definition of endo-
geneity accompanied by its substratum: the endon, which we
should no doubt understand as a formal schema that is useful
for the overall configuration of the notion. The term "endoge-
nous" appeared around the beginning ofthe twentieth century
(A. Mechler), and was often a synonym for "constitutional;'
which did little to explain the nature of melancholy since other
affections could also be related to it, in particular, psychoses
and neuroses, which were said to have a "depressive basis:' The
term concerned the "disorders ofthe humor;' or even the "vital
feelings" in their stuporous or maniacal disturbances. This is
where some located those affects whose anomalies derived
from a primary organization of drives, and which were thus
relatively independent from external events and psychologi-
cal motivations. This simply indicates how vague the notion
still was, and how it seemed to call out for a third etiological
field alongSide the somatic and the psychic. Indeed, Tellen-
bach's definition of melancholy is more an overall description
than an actual definition: it emphasizes the importance of vital
rhythms, and the coherence of their combination, in other
words, their historial aspect:
By endogeny, then, we mean what emerges as the unity
of the basic form in any life event [als Einheit der Grund-
gestalt in aHem Lebensgeschehen]. The endon is by its ori-
gin the phusis, which opens out and remains within the
phenomena of endogeny.
The word "melancholy" thereafter refers, in a phenom-
enological context, to an endokinesis, to a movement of the
endon, or even a rupture with the endon, understood as a
blockage of the basic manifestations oflife (stupor, despon-
dency, despair), a blockage that the individual endeavors
to prevent by a defensive behavior focused entirely on a
respect for, and conformity to, an established order (Or-
dentlichkeit). If Tellenbach's phenomenological approach to
melancholy still reflects the relevance of German psychiat-
ric thought, in spite of the pressure exerted by the obligation
to apply international classificatory norms, it is because the
humoral tradition has its roots not only in a clinical prac-
tice that attempts to analyze its manifestations, but also in
a philosophical tradition that psychiatrists are not averse to
exploiting in elaborating their theoretical models.
Like psychiatrists from the English-speaking world,
German psychiatrists use an original term to designate
modem humor: Stimmung, whose meanings have an even
wider resonance than the corresponding English term,
"mood" or "humor" in the nonphysical sense. Stimmung
comes from stimmen, to make one's voice (Stimme) heard,
to establish, to name (bestimmen, "to determine"), and to
play an instrument in order to tune it. This latter !TIean-
ing, when extended to humor, suggests the fact of put-
ting oneself in a certain frame of mind (see STIMMUNG).
The lexicon of the French translation of Tellenbach's
work retains the following composite nouns: Gestimmt-
sein (being-in-a-mood); Gestimmtheit (color of the mood);
Verstimmung (change of mood); and Stimmbarkeit (supple-
ness, affective mobility). The richness of this vocabulary
(beyond its application to melancholy, which makes mel-
ancholy not so much a morbid entity as a frame of mind,
or even a typus, as Tellenbach puts it) echoes in this sense
the great movements of German psychiatry from the end
of the nineteenth century. This tradition, beyond the clini-
cal and nosographic conception of someone like Kraepelin
in particular, was still very much in line with the work of
J. Herbaert: a dynamic of associations of ideas in which
the antagonisms between representations were related
analogically to intracortical antagonisms. As far as mel-
ancholy specifically was concerned, the German classifi-
cation made a distinction between a simple melancholy
(melancholia simplex) and a stuporous melancholy (mel-
ancholia errabunda, melancholia agitans sine active); rela-
tive to these two forms, there were then a melancholy
without delirium; a precordial melancholy; a delirious
melancholy, which was also still called religious; and
a hallucinatory melancholy, which was still called hy-
pochondriacal. w. GrieSinger, for example, follows this
classification of melancholy (Mental Illnesses, 1845), and
places melancholy properly speaking (Melancholia),
along with hypochondria, in the more general category
of "states of mental depression. Melancholy (Schwermut)."
This latter term, a synonym for despondency or depression
(schwer, "heavy, weighty," and Mut, "feelings, qualities, or
states of mind"), conveys the main quality of humor, much
as does the term "tristimania," coined by the American
B. Rush in 1812, or lypemanie (lypemania), coined by
Esquirol in France in 1820, or L. Delasiauve's depression
(1860). From this perspective, and in order to distinguish
Melancholia from simple Schwermut, R. Krafft-Ebing and
H. Schule would emphasize the accidental or nonacci-
dental nature of the etiological factor, as well as the pres-
ence or lack of anxiety. But it was E. Kraeplin who would
foreground most explicitly the difficulty of establishing a
stable semiology of melancholy, and of putting it in a rel-
evant claSSificatory category.
B. Manic depression
French psychiatrists before Kraepelin had included mel-
ancholy in the group of thymic psychoses broadly named
"manic depressive" (or what Farlet in 1851 called folie circu-
laire [circular madness], and Baillarger in 1854 called folie a
double forme [double-formed madness)). Kraepelin, however,
distinguished it clearly from manic depression up until 1913,
when he included it in the eighth edition of his Lehrbuch der
Psychiatrie, emphasizing the identity of the clinical symptoms
of the two illnesses, even if the variations of mood in melan-
choly often remain very slight, to the point of being imper-
ceptible. From that point on, manic depression constituted
a disease in the same way that paranoia and schizophrenia
did, and it encompassed all of the symptomatic variations of
melancholy, of mania, and of the different combined states,
as well as pure mono-symptomatic forms. The interest of
such a classification as regards melancholy lay in what would
henceforth appear to continue to distinguish it from other
simple forms, that is, the integrity of ideation. From psycho-
motor inhibition to the state of stupor, from delirious ideas
to confused states, three types of pure melancholy emerge,
all characterized by an aggravation of what we might call a
fullness of the idea, from the point of view of the mechanism;
and by moral suffering and psychomotor inhibition, from the
point of view of the classic syndrome.
Kraepelin's nosography remains a key reference point
in the history of psychiatry, not just in Germany, but in
Europe more generally, insofar as, according to a detailed
semiology, all the simple forms of the illness are grouped
under more general forms (so, for example, "pure mel-
ancholy" is under the form "manic depression" [maniac-
depressive Psychose]), and thus retain their characteristics
almost autonomously. For this reason, melancholy is still
nowadays classed as manic depression or neurotic depres-
sion depending on the assessment of the disturbances of
ideation, of the intensity of sadness and anxiety, as well as
of the degree of psychomotor slowing, to use the modern
expressions. The second half of the nineteenth century,
and the start of the following century, witnessed an explo-
sion of great German treatises in psychiatry, which were
vast systems of classifications of mental illness that relied
on the most detailed of semiological methods, drawn up
during close clinical observation. The mechanisms of the
different ideas, the very ones brought to light and favored
by the organo-dynamist approach that would be developed
in France, and even more so by psychoanalytically inspired
psychiatry, could already be glimpsed as a number of meta-
phorical figures at work in these treatises. For melancholy,
for example, one finds in the figures of the hole and of the
cavity (T. Meynert, Freud), as well as the figure of the whirl-
wind and the spiral movement (H. Schi1le, H. Emminghaus),
characteristics of the loss of psychic investment, and of the
flux of thought. After this, the psychosomatic or psychic
mechanisms underlying the symptomatic manifestations
would enter the definitions of mental affections at the ex-
pense of a semiology, whose endless reworkings made the
establishment of a universal nosology extremely difficult.
V. Melancholy as a Paradigm of Narcissistic Illness
A. Melancholic discourse
In spite of the delirious or confused appearance that certain
forms of melancholy can take, the illness that corresponds
to this name is said to be distinguished from manic depres-
sion in that it preserves the integrity of intellectual pro-
cesses, even if the full weight of the obsession often causes
a patient to sink into extreme pathological behaviors, such
as total mutism or systematic negativism. German psychi-
atry and French psychiatry attach a similar importance to
the discourse of the patient through the repetitive figures
he presents, and which is said to translate the nature of the
affections from which it derives. In 1891 G. Dumas, in his
medical thesis Les etats intellectuels dans la melancolie [Intel-
lectual states in melancholy], makes a distinction between
an organic melancholy and an intellectual melancholy,
depending on the whether the state prior to melancholy
was affective or intellectual, and according to the possible
variations of the causal order, conceived as follows: organic
facts, mental productions, and confused perceptions of
these facts, or melancholy. Melancholy is thus less a pathol-
ogy than a psychic operation whose aim is to justify the or-
ganic or affective disorders of which the patient continues
to be aware. Melancholy would not simply have an organic
etiology-which neither the Germans nor the French were
yet able to do without-but also a rational logic. This logic
prompts the patient to translate his impressions of diminu-
tion and of weakness into a type of discourse and behav-
ior, which then precisely becomes part of the definition of
melancholy. "In all cases," writes G. Dumas, "the affective
effect, melancholy, appears to be merely the awareness of
the movements made, the confused idea of the body. We are
no longer in the presence of an ill-defined power succeed-
ing an idea, and being expressed by physical organs; we are
only ever dealing with intellectual states, ideas, images or
sensations, and with physiological states:' W. Griesinger, to
whom G. Dumas refers in his thesis, had already emphasized
this impression of great coherence that emerges from mel-
ancholic discourse. For Griesinger, this is a testimony to the
mind trying to understand cenesthetic states or apparently
inexplicable movements of the body, and which, in order to
do this, conceives of logical arguments that are more or less
removed from the lived context, more or less artificial in re-
lation to the still uninterpreted affective base.
B. The mechanism of melancholy
We find in Germany as well as in France, besides an inter-
est in nosology, a continued and no less powerful interest
in the study of the particular forms of discourse of the
patients, insofar as these forms might reveal the underly-
ing etiological mechanisms of the different types of affec-
tions. Alongside the descriptive semiological description
of melancholy, then, a morphological definition explaining
the illness is also elaborated, in both Germany and France,
whose medical traditions are nonetheless distinctly differ-
ent: German alienists remained attached to the theory of
the association of ideas since J. Herbart, who attributed to
representations a force of attraction and repulSion, and
French alienists remained attached to the organo-psychic
approach of the Greco-Latin tradition. This organo-psychic
influence is still largely present not only among French
psychiatrists, but also more widely across the Mediter-
ranean, insofar as it determines two otherwise unrelated
directions for research and treatment of melancholy: the
neuro-pharmacological approach, and the psychodynamic
approach, whose essentially psychoanalytic points of refer-
ence are still very much alive in France. Melancholy then
comes to be discussed in terms of mechanisms, and in this
it follows Freud, who drew this conclusion from V. Tausk's
lecture on melancholy on 30 December 1914:
The essential criterion by which we must circumscribe
the symptoms (which, in practice, never appear in their
pure form) and the forms of illness is its mechanism.
The observation of benign cases, offers, as Hitschmann
mentioned, the only possibility of drawing up a chart
of pure symptoms. If this is true, there is only one mel-
ancholy, which has the same mechanism, and which
should be curable by psychoanalysis.
Freud's call for circumscribing and unifying the concept of
melancholy was followed, however, in a less-than-unified way
by psychoanalytically inspired psychiatrists. The result is a
vast nosographic panorama within which melancholy shifts
from being a manic-depressive psychosis to a major depres-
sion, and even a narcissistic illness (still described as an "ill-
ness of the ideal"). The 1914 formulation comes dose to the
category of "narcissistic neuroses" that Freud, in 1924, would
distinguish from psychoses and neuroses, and of which for
him melancholy was the paradigm: "We may provisionally
assume that there must also be illnesses which are based on
a conflict between the ego and the super-ego. Analysis gives
us a right to suppose that melancholia is a typical example
of this group; and we would set aside the name of 'narcis-
sistic psychoneuroses' for disorders of that kind" ("Neurosis
and Psychosis"; see E5). Psychiatric practice, while necessar-
ily distinct from psychoanalytic practice in the sense that its
primary aim is the medical objective of the disappearance of
the symptom, through well-established therapeutic knowl-
edge, nevertheless shares with psychoanalysis a recognition
of those unconscious mechanisms identified by Freud, which
it finds at the heart of the melancholic patient's discourse.
Three such mechanisms are commonly encountered in psy-
chiatric literature. They attach respectively to the figure of
mourning, understood as an impossible psychic resolution;
to the figure of a generalized negativism, which results in a
logical, hyper-formalized discourse; as well, finally, as to the
figure of a narcissistic rift, whose consequences would mani-
fest themselves through a devalorization of one's self-image.
C. The figures of melancholy: Lovesickness
It is curious to note how similar contemporary figures
of melancholy are to those that were already present
in the history of the illness, from antiquity up through
the seventeenth century, in the form of different kinds
of melancholy, such as "divine melancholy" (Marsilio
Ficino), "white melancholy or white bile" (Agrippa of
Nettesheim), and even "amorous or erotic melancholy"
(Jacques Ferrand and the authors of the various "Treatises
on Lovesickness" of the seventeenth century).
Ifthe ancients had already provided a good description
sance andthe classical age established themas almost au-
oneofthemostinstructiveexamples, insofaras itprovides
theraw materialfor anumber ofspecializedtreatiseswrit-
tenby doctors,aswell as philosophersandtheologians. We
find many allusions in antiquity to the discomfort ofthe
ofEphesus,AretaeusofCappadocia),eitherfrom eras
orfromepithl1mia [EmBuJliaj,passionatelonging,lust,desire
(the latter,providedthatwe understandthetranscendental
movementthatepithl1mia leadstoastheovercomingthrough
love ofsimple covetousness orbodily desire). And it is in-
causes unreliabilityofjudgment,as well as languorandthe
stupor thataccompanies itwhentheabsence ofthe object
is felt all too cruelly. Aretaeus of Cappadocia tells ofone
suchcasewhen hedescribes anadolescentboywho,having
sunk into melancholy and been abandoned by his doctors,
thathewasinlovefrom thebeginningandthat,havingbeen
disappointedin his advances on theyounggirl, he became
patriots"(quotedinJ.Pigeaud,De la me/ancolie). Thispassion
thus gave way in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
folly," an expression that a doctor such as Jacques Ferrand
translatesusingtheword erotomania [EQwTOJlavia]. Itcould
certainlybeconsideredas an"illnessofdesire;'an expres-
sionthatwouldnotreallybeanachronisticsince theauthor
We therefore say that, according to this doctrine [the
the loved object.Now, ifthiskind ofreverie is without
fever, and accompanied by ordinary fear and sadness,
itis called melancholy. Res est solliciti plena timoris amor
(Ferrand,Traicte de l'essence etgl1erison de I'amour et de
la melancolie erotique)
Ferrand, following his master du Laurens, classifies
melancholyas akindofhypochondria,attachingto itthe
symptoms ofthe latter, such as stomach upsets and dis-
orders associated with the organs. While he claims that
the heartis the seat ofthe cause ofthe illness, the liver
the seat oflove, and the genitalia the seat ofcombined
causes, the symptoms are said to be in the brain, which
is responsible for the general alteration of one's mind
and temperament. His contemporaries, in particular, A.
de Laurens,J. Guibelet, T. Bright, and R. Burton, also re-
spectedthis classification, andwhile none oftheirworks
was devotedto lovesickmelancholy,theydiddiscuss itin
talk in this regardof"heroic melancholy;' an expression
that is also mentioned by Ferrand, who traces it back to
Avicenna, and the whole Arabe family, call this illness
Alhasch orI1iscus intheirlanguage:ArnaudofVillanova
[de villeneuvej,Gordon,andtheircontemporariescall
itheroicorlordly Love, eitherbecause theancienthe-
roesorhalf-godsweregreatlyaffectedbythisill, asthe
Poets reciteintheirfables, orbecause thegreatLords
ple,orfinally, becauseLove dominatesandmastersthe
(Ferrand,De la maladie d'amour ou melancolie erotique)
Now, theterm"heroicmelancholy" no doubtcomesfrom
asemanticconfusionoftheGreekeros (love) withheros, he-
roycus, orhereos (wordswhosemeaninghaslongeludedlexi-
cographers),ifnotevenwiththeGreek heros (hero),
ArnauddeVilleneuve inthethirteenthcentury,inhistiber
de parte operativa beingthefirstto makethismistake,which
was later adoptedbyBurton. Lovesickmelancholia, the ob-
aturningin upon oneself, and a moral sufferingfueled by
feelings ofself-deprecation and guilt. Mourningor separa-
tion merely provides melancholy with an opportunity to
manifestitself;theillness is hereunderstood as aconstitu-
tive mode ofpsychic structurationfor some, anda physic-
chemicalanomalyfor others,whicharepresentwell before
anyprecipitatingevent.Thefact remainsthat,astheworks
on"lovesickness"showso clearly,melancholyis affirmedas
an"illnessof desire;'inthesenseinwhichdesire,attackedat
itscore,giveswayas itcollapsesto anumberofdifferentex-
vitae, close to boredom, or even nostalgia (see SEHNSUCHT),
To classifymelancholyasaspecificcategoryofpsychiat-
thedifferent epistemological contexts thatgovern such a
tomatological descriptions that work against any precise
semiologyontheother.However, alongsidethesedescrip-
tions, phenomenologicalandpsychoanalyticaltrendscon-
tinuetoinformadifferentkindofpractice,whichis based
on an approach toward the illness that, for phenomenol-
ogy, focuses on the nature ofthe patient's temperament
forpsychoanalysis,focuses insteadonunconsciousmecha-
nisms and psychic structuration. What is understood by
melancholyis thereforeunderstoodintermsofthesymp-
tomsthemselveswhich,firstidentifiedin antiquity,would
nowadays be defined by a metaphorical displacement:
moodandmoralsuffering, obsessionandpartialdelirium,
lovesicknessandmourning,as wellas thecharacteristicof
genius,andthehyper-lucidityofa discourse reducedto a
pathologicalauthenticity.We mightsaythatdesirecanno
longerbesustainedby narcissistic prOjection, for wantof
chology tries to reconstruct. Melancholy is a narcissistic
illness, an illness of desire and of truth, in the sense that,
as Freud states, the melancholic subject has come so close
to this truth that it falls illas a result (Mourning and Mel-
ancholia, 19l5). Beyond the seduction of an eminently
protean philosophical and literary discourse, melancholy
defies any attempt at reductive classification in the field of
psychiatry. It is thus held captive by the Aristotelian kairos
[nUlQ6d if we are willing to understand this kairos as the
opportunity offered to the temperament to manifest itself
as a structural effect.
Marie-Claude Lambotte
Aristotle, "Problem 30:1," In Problems. Translated by W. S. Hett and Harris Rack-
ham. Rev, ed, Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress,
"Problems:'In The Complete Works ofAristotle, BollingerSeries71.2vols.Ed-
itedbyJonathanBarnes.Princeton,NJ: PrincetonUniversityPress,1984.
Binswanger,Ludwig.Melancholie und Manie: Phiinomenologische Studien. Pfullingen,
Ger.: Neske,1960,
--.Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers ofLudwig Binswanger, Translated by
JacobNeedleman.NewYork: BasicBooks,1963.
Burton, Robert, The Anatomy ofMelancholy. Edited by Thomas C. Faulkner
et al.; introduction by J. S, Bamborough, 6 vols, Oxford: Clarendon Press,
Comay, Rebecca."The Sickness ofTradition: Between Melancholia and Fetishism:'
In Walter Benjamin and History, edited by Andrew Benjamin, 88'-101. NewYork:
Dumas,Georges,Les etats intellectuels dans 10 mefancolie. Paris,1894,
Esquirol,Jean-ttienne."DelaIypemanieoumelancolieICh.8]:'lnDes maladies men-
tales considerees sous les rapports medical, hygienique et medico-legal. 2vols.Paris,
1838.Translation byE. K. Hunt, withan introduction by Raymond de Saussure:
"lypemania or melancholia ICh. 8]:In Mental Maladies: ATreatise on Insanity.
Ferrand, Jacques. De 10 malodie d'amour ou melancholie erotique. Paris, 1623.
Translation, critical introduction, and notes by Donald A, Beecher and Mas-
simo Ciavolella:ATreatise on Lovesickness. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University
Freud, Sigmund,"Trauer und Melancholie,"In Freud-Studienausgabe III: Psycholo-
gie des UnbewuBten, edited by Alexander Mitscherlich, Angela Richards, and
JamesStrachey,183-212. 9thed, Frankfurt: Fischer, 2001.Translation byJames
Strachey:"Mourningand Melancholia,"In The Standard Edition of the Complete
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Times. NewHaven,CT:YaleUniversityPress,1986.
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psychologie. Paris:Anthropos,1993.
----,Esthlitique de 10 melancolie, Paris:Aubier,1984.
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Starobinski,Jean. Histoire du traitement de 10 melancolie, des origines a1900, Basel,
Tellenbach, Hubertus. Melanrholie, 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer, 1961. Translation by
ErlingEng:Melancho!y:HistoryoftheProblem, Endogeneity, Typology, Pathogenesis,
Clinical Considerations, Pittsburgh:DuquesneUniversityPress,1980.
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Mark S, Micale and Roy Porter, 135-54. New York: Oxford University Press,
L.".___, __."____"".______",,___,_____,,..___, __""._
FRENCH memoire,oubli
GERMAN Erinnerung, Gedachtnis, Vergessen
GREEK mneme mnl!mosune [IlVll1l00UVll1, memnemai
[1lIlVllll'n].lethe [AllO'll00'uvllJ
LATIN subvenire, menini, obliviscor
Thespecialized wordsdenotingthefacultyofmasteringand
agroupencompassingtheactivityofthemindin thebroad-
includingwarlikeviolenceand delirium.Therootmen- covers
everythingtodowiththemind ingeneral,withmen inmenos
[IlEVO<;J (force),andman inmania [Ilav[al (delirium),and
formemoryin Greek:mimneskomai mneme
mnemosune [IlVllll0O'uvllJ, and in Latin:memini and
memor; memoria.
oritcan beexperienced,Therearedifferentmodelsforthinking
withatracethatisleftandthenfoundagain;imprinting(Gr. tupos
[TI)TIo<;]);andatrail(Ger.Spur) thatcanbefollowed.Wefind, relat-
thought(seetheconnotationsoftheGer.Gedochtnis). Whenthis
memory-treasureispossessed, itlendsitselftotheprogressivework
ofinternalizingtheworld(seetheGer.Erinnerung), whichismore
prefigUred intheGermanlanguage(Dank, "thanks:'alongside
Gedanke, "thought
ment(reconnaissance), tothepointwhereknowledge(connais-
sonce) becomesnothingmorethanafixationonhistory(Denken as
Gedenken, commemoration),