Melancholia and Depression During the 19th Century: a Conceptual History

  title={Melancholia and Depression During the 19th Century: a Conceptual History},
  author={Germ{\'a}n E. Berr{\'i}os},
  journal={British Journal of Psychiatry},
  pages={298 - 304}
  • G. Berríos
  • Published 1 September 1988
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • British Journal of Psychiatry
The meaning of ‘melancholia’ in classical antiquity is opaque and has little in common with 20th-century psychiatric usage (Drabkin, 1955; Heiberg, 1927). At that time, melancholia and mania were not polar opposites (i.e. one was not defined as having opposite features to the other). Melancholia was defined in terms of overt behavioural features such as decreased motility, and morosity (Roccatagliata, 1973; Simon, 1978). Hence, in medical usage, ‘melancholia’ referred to a subtype of mania and… 
From Melancholia to Depression: Disordered Mood in Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry
My book From Melancholia to Depression: Disordered Mood in Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry charts how melancholia was reconceptualized in the nineteenth century as a modern mood disorder and a
Expanding the group of bipolar disorders.
  • A. Marneros
  • Psychology
    Journal of affective disorders
  • 2001
‘Insanity in Classical Antiquity’, by JL Heiberg (1913)
This is the first rendition into English of the complete Danish work on psychopathological concepts and terms in classical times and shows how important has been the contribution of classical philologists to the study of the history of madness.
Descriptive Psychiatry and Psychiatric Nosology during the Nineteenth Century
A conceptual history of the notion of “mental illness” during the nineteenth century should include the analysis of four interacting vectors: descriptive psychopathology, etiological theory,
Typus melancholicus: personality structure and the characteristics of major unipolar depressive episode.
Critique of Psychopathological Reason: The Work of G.E. Berrios
In the 1980s Berrios suggested that the psychiatric intellectual framework was rooted in conceptual premises that were established more than a century ago and also that psychiatric knowledge should
The concept of neuropsychiatry: a historical overview.
Stephanus Bisius (1724–1790) on mania and melancholy, and the disorder called plica polonica
Stephanus Bisius characterized mania and melancholy as diseases of the brain, explaining that the organs that feed the human soul are affected, not the soul itself, and introduced the principles of humoralism and solidism to readers.
Cotard's syndrome: analysis of 100 cases
A statistical analysis has been carried out of 100 cases of Cotard's syndrome to determine how this clinical concept has fared since its inception, finding no difference was found between men and women or between underlying diagnostic categories; age seemed to increase the likelihood of developing délire des négations.


"Depressive pseudodementia" or "Melancholic dementia": a 19th century view.
  • G. Berríos
  • Psychology
    Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
  • 1985
Evidence is marshalled to show that during the 19th century there was wide disagreement concerning the clinical domain, course and even histopathology of general paralysis, which casts doubt on the traditional view that this condition served as "a paradigm" for other psychiatric diseases during this period.
Manic-depressive insanity and paranoia
A facsimile reprinting of Kraepelin's great German textbook, "Manic-Depressive Insanity and Paranoia" (1921), which showed for the first time that psychotic depression could have alternating forms of mania and severe melancholy.
Melancholia: A Historical Review
Melancholia is one of the great words of psychiatry. Suffering many mutations, at one time the tenacious guardian of outworn schemes or errant theories; presently misused, cavilled at, dispossessed,
Falret's discovery: the origin of the concept of bipolar affective illness. Translated by M. J. Sedler and Eric C. Dessain.
  • M. Sedler
  • Psychology
    The American journal of psychiatry
  • 1983
The translation of Falret's essay represents an effort to trace contemporary psychiatric concepts to their origins in nineteenth-century France.
The early development of Kraepelin's ideas on classification: a conceptual history.
This paper analyses the development of Kraepelin's views in terms of the 'Research Programme' he planned early in his life and whose objective was the creation of a stable description and classification of the psychoses.
Aretaeus the Cappadocian on mental illness.
Remarks on Ancient Psychopathology
It would be fruitful and timely to reexamine the past and view its history from the vantage point afforded by the new insights of Freud, and I do think that a study of the kind I have in mind could have far more than merely antiquarian interest.
The history of associationism and British medical psychology.
This can be seen in the following excerpt from Cox's work: Whatever agitates the mind intensely, whatever occupies it exclusively, always hazards its faculties, inducing a state favourable to the attack of mental disease.
The psychopathology of affectivity: conceptual and historical aspects.
This paper shows how the subordinate role played by affectivity in the Western concept of man led to the early and enduring view of mental illness as an exclusive disturbance of intellect.
Delirium and Confusion in the 19th Century: A Conceptual History
  • G. Berríos
  • Psychology, Medicine
    British Journal of Psychiatry
  • 1981
Summary Delirium remained a stable psychiatric category until the early 19th century when it underwent aetiological and phenomenological redefinition, precipitating the transformation of the