The Chronic Disease of Melancholy

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:
The Chronic Disease of Melancholy

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This chapter presents Herman Boerhaave's discussion of melancholy. Boerhaave was a Dutch physician and humanist who lived between 1668 and 1738. Based in Leiden, a renowned medical center of that time, he was one of the most important influences on 18th-century medicine in Europe, and his fame even spread to China. Boerhaave was known for several works, including Aphorisms: Concerning the Knowledge and Cure of Diseases, published in 1735, from which the following passages are taken. In his discussion of melancholia in the Aphorisms, Boerhaave demonstrates the new mechanistic approach to medical explanation associated with 17th-century science, and particularly with Newtonian mechanics — an approach that challenged the earlier established humoral and chemical explanations.

Keywords: Herman Boerhaave; melancholy; melancholia; Leiden; Newtonian mechanics

Chapter.  3513 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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