How to Help Melancholicks

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:
How to Help Melancholicks

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This chapter presents Cotton Mather's discussion of melancholy. Mather was a Puritan divine who lived between 1663 and 1728. Educated at Harvard, he was ordained in 1685 and later succeeded his father as the pastor of North Church. He is best known for his part in the Salem witch trials, the climate for which he helped create with his influential sermons and the 1689 publication of his work Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possession. His last major work, The Angel of Bethesda, was a medical compendium, offering a list of “the Common Maladies of Mankind,” accompanied by remedies and by practical directions of a preventive kind. His discussion on melancholy, which he ambitiously entitles “The Cure of Melancholy,” is a curious blend of orthodox 17th-century ideas about melancholy derived from medical authorities such as Thomas Willis (1630–75) and Mather's own pragmatic New England emphasis on solutions to the social and practical problems melancholia raises for those such as himself, with pastoral responsibilities.

Keywords: Cotton Mather; melancholy; The Angel of Bethesda; melancholia

Chapter.  2536 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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