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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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11 Rewriting Mecca: Teaching about Late-Life Depression Using John Metcalf’s “The Years in Exile” (Lucia Gagliese (York University, Ontario))


11 Rewriting Mecca: Teaching about Late-Life Depression Using John Metcalf’s “The Years in Exile”

Lucia Gagliese

York University, Ontario

Although late-life depression is common, many mental health professionals do not receive adequate training in its assessment or management. Engagement with literary narratives to develop psycho-literary case studies may be an innovative approach to enhancing knowledge about aging and mental health. John Metcalf’s short story, “The Years in Exile,” is a subtle, sophisticated depiction of depression in a retired writer. This chapter illustrates the development of a psycho-literary case study of Metcalf’s protagonist, including assessment, diagnosis, case formulation, and treatment planning consistent with lifespan developmental models and narrative frameworks. At each step, empirical and clinical research and theory are interwoven to highlight opportunities for evidence-based experiential learning.

Late-Life Depression

Depression is experienced by 10 to 38% of people over 60 years old (da Costa Lane Valiengo et al. 2016). Mild to moderate depression is most common, but over 10% report severe symptoms (da Costa Lane Valiengo et al. 2016). It is persistent and associated with decreased quality of life, increased physical, cognitive, and social impairment, as well as increased mortality, including suicide (da Costa Lane Valiengo et al. 2016; Casey 2018).

Depression may be more complicated in older than younger people due to comorbid illnesses and atypical presentation. Specifically, older people are less likely than younger people to experience overt sadness and guilt but more ←179 | 180...

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