Chapter

Melancholia, Witches, and Deceiving Demons

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151657.003.0008
Melancholia, Witches, and Deceiving Demons

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This chapter presents Johan Weyer's discussion of melancholy. Johan Weyer was a physician practicing in the Low Countries (on the border of present-day Belgium and Holland) in the 16th century. His first and most important work, written between 1561 and 1562, was De praestigiis daemonum (Of Deceiving Demons), from which the excerpts are taken. In this work, sometimes thought of as the first textbook of psychiatry, he covers the topic of witchcraft from four different viewpoints, theological, psychological, medical, and legal. While more enlightened and humane than the views of many in his time, Weyer's writing still appears to countenance a demonic source for melancholic states, and it still conveys an unmistakable misogyny.

Keywords: Johan Weyer; melancholy; melancholia; De praestigiis daemonum

Chapter.  5457 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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