The Anatomy Of Melancholy: Episode 27

This version is captioned, a non-captioned version can be found here.

This episode starts with a reflection on whether force of will is sufficient to stave off the advance of melancholy. Recent public information campaigns to increase the understanding of mental health take a clear position on this, they seek to rebuff the idea that depression reflects a weakness of character, depression is an illness, traced in many cases to a chemical imbalance, a lack of serotonin, in this circumstance to tell a depressed person to ‘snap out of it’ is akin, as robert Burton says “[to] bid him that is diseased not to feel pain”

In recent months we have all been enforced or encouraged to isolate or distance ourselves from other human company. We will each have our own judgement on the psychological effects of this change. Perhaps we now have a stronger sense of the uplifting powers of good company and friendship than we did before, certainly Burton is convinced of them. He is convinced that if we are feeling melancholic then hanging out with a friend should help. Rather controversially however his advice does encourage friends melancholics to flog them if being nice to them doesn’t cheer them up – it is difficult to imagine how this might help and we do not endorse this course of action.

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