Edited by Jennifer Radden

in The Philosophy of Psychiatry

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780195149531
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199870943 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry


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This chapter examines three different approaches—the moral, medical, and social/political—as they apply to the study of affective disorders (mood disorders). It focuses on clinical depression because of its relation to the historical category of melancholia, which once included almost all known psychiatric categories of illness that presently exist, including cognitive disorders, volitional disorders, and psychotic disorders. It considers a particularly entrenched debate between advocates of the moral and the medical perspectives regarding clinical depression, illustrating this debate by highlighting the current moral and political issues surrounding psychopharmacology. It demonstrates how the social/political approach offers an interesting change of perspective on the significance of melancholia, by moving away from positing personhood and personal identity as the locus of philosophical analyses of psychiatric illness.

Keywords: affective disorders; clinical depression; melancholia; mood

Chapter.  8244 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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