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The Faces of Depression in Literature

Edited By Josefa Ros Velasco

The Faces of Depression in Literature brings together some of the best-known specialists and scholars on the topic of depression in literature worldwide to offer a multidisciplinary approach concerning the philosophical, theological, and literary narratives of depression over time and their approximations to the current, clinical understanding of Major Depressive Disorder. The authors clarify the background of depression by paying attention to its representation through these narratives and revalue them as a means of acquiring knowledge in an interdisciplinary way. This pioneering initiative fills the knowledge gap that still exists concerning the nature of depression from a multidisciplinary perspective that takes into account some cross-cutting narratives. The authors give voice to the forgotten manifestations of depression found in literature, philosophy, theology, and even early medical works. The Faces of Depression in Literature is for graduates and researchers on depression from a cultural and social point of view, including philosophers, historians, cultural theorists, literature and art experts and enthusiasts, as well as artists and writers themselves, specialists in mental health and cognitive psychology, and anyone interested in a better understanding of the human condition.
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8 Broken Promise: Depression as Ex-Gifted Girl Identity in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation (Nora Augustine (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill))


8 Broken Promise: Depression as Ex-Gifted Girl Identity in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation

Nora Augustine

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Few scholars of either depression or literature can long abide in those pursuits without encountering some form of Mad Genius mythology (as I call it). This mythology comprises a broad set of cultural and theoretical discourses positing an essential link between various states of mental disorder and various mental gifts. Definitions of both madness and genius vary widely, thus Mad Genius investigators never lack for new adaptations of this mythology to pursue. Nor has the increasing medicalization of American psychiatry weakened Mad Genius’s credibility; science instead promises ever-new means for operationalizing mental traits and measuring their relationships. Is there a real connection between madness and genius? The allure of this hypothesis is evident in the multitude of studies that try to prove it, yet such research rarely delves deeply into why this should be so alluring (to whom) or what results from humans’ attachments to Mad Genius. Moreover, no studies known to me have drawn from self-referential writing by persons diagnosed with mental illness to analyze the effects of Mad Genius mythology on their stories. The enduring popularity of Mad Genius indeed cannot be explained by science alone. To understand what this mythology means to real people who live with mental illness—as well as those who identify as gifted—we ought to listen for its echoes in their...

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