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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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12 This Aisle Has More Than Two Sides: Insights into Depression, Provided by Medical Doctors (Angelika Potempa (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley))

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12 This Aisle Has More Than Two Sides: Insights into Depression, Provided by Medical Doctors

Angelika Potempa

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Introduction

Memoirs of medical doctors are quite popular; some have even made it on bestseller lists—“Why are memoirs so popular?” (Reisner n.d.; Carr 2014) This is due to various factors, such as, the high social and moral prestige that the medical profession has enjoyed since the 1950s and 1960s (Starr 1982), the readers’ interest in intimate and emotionally engaging stories of how illnesses and losses affect people’s lives, the accomplishments, failures, and challenges that the healers faced in their professional and private lives and the lessons they learned (Zinsser 1987; Barrington 1997), the fact that the medical profession has traditionally belonged to the occupations with very particular fiduciary rules and been very protective of its social, moral, and professional prestige (Gawande 2007; Ruggieri 2012) as well as the storytellers’ desire to validate and “detoxify” their personal lives via writing and to educate their audiences (Broyard 1992, 20–21, 52–55; Nuland 2008, 84–87). That is, the more or less fictitious accounts of medical doctors reflect and partake in the discourses that shape the general public’s attitudes towards the roles of medicine, science, and technologies in our lives as well as with regard to what it means to live a meaningful and enjoyable life in the face of suffering, disability, and death.

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