Chapter

Melancholy

Thomas Buckley

in Standing Ground

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233584
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936447 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520233584.003.0010
Melancholy

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This chapter examines the relationship between major depression and Yurok doctoring. Aspects of the ethnographic record of Yurok life in the past suggest that what is known today and in non-Indian society as major depression, is an appropriate way in which to understand the classic Indian sucking doctors. The Kroeberian understanding of a culture as essentialized in a configuration of specific traits, shared by the psychologist Erik Erikson, emphasizes the incommensurability of different cultures. Yurok doctors' own melancholy, however, can best be understood not as a diagnostic trait identifying a discrete “Yurok culture,” but as individual experience so widespread in space and time as to be, arguably, universal. Finally, the chapter argues that what is culturally relative is not the experience of depression, but the ways different individuals interpret it and the communal uses to which they do or do not put it.

Keywords: major depression; Yurok doctoring; ethnographic record; Yurok culture

Chapter.  8731 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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