Edited By Josefa Ros Velasco
1 Acedia and Its Relation to Depression (Derek McAllister (Baylor University, Texas))
1 Acedia and Its Relation to Depression
Baylor University, Texas
There are prima facie grounds for thinking acedia and depression are somehow related. Acedia, that old deadly sin of sloth, is marked characteristically by idleness, laziness, aversion to work, slackness, and even sorrow. Depression is marked characteristically by sadness, dullness, loss of pleasure, emptiness, and, sometimes, irritability—these are stereotypical characterizations, to be sure; nevertheless, it is instructive beginning with such familiar but crude generalizations, then proceed to analyze, clarify and correct them as needed. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) identifies at least one necessary condition for inclusion in the category of depressive disorders, i.e., a sad, empty, or irritable mood:
The common feature of all [depressive] disorders is the presence of sad, empty, or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual’s capacity to function. What differs among them are issues of duration, timing, or presumed etiology. (American Psychiatric Association 2013, 155)
The DSM has, since its third iteration (1980), overtly eschewed reference to etiology as a diagnostic criterion for depression in favor of identifying symptoms and behavior in descriptivist language as diagnostic criteria.1 This intentional move leaves room for clinicians and practitioners to theorize, on a case-by-case basis, about the etiology of any particular person’s depression,2 rather than have the matter settled legislatively at the outset. In what follows, I shall...
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