Definition of Melancholy, Name, Difference.

Definition of Melancholy, Name, Difference.

HAVING thus briefly anatomized the body and soul of man, as a preparative to the rest; I may now freely proceed to treat of my intended object, to most men's capacity; and after many ambages, perspicuously define what this melancholy is, show his name and differences. The name is imposed from the matter, and disease denominated from the material cause: as Bruel observes, Mελανχολια (Melancholia) quasi Mελαινα χολη (melaina chole) from black choler. And whether it be a cause or an effect, a disease or symptom, let Donatus Altomarus and Salvianus decide; I will not contend about it. It hath several descriptions, notations, and definitions. Fracastorius, in his second book of intellect, calls those melancholy, "whom abundance of that same depraved humour of black choler hath so misaffected, that they become mad thence, and dote in most things, or in all, belonging to election, will, or other manifest operations of the understanding." Melanelius out of Galen, Ruffus, Ætius, describe it to be "a bad and peevish disease, which makes men degenerate into beasts:" Galen, "a privation or infection of the middle cell of the head," &c. defining it from the part affected, which Hercules de Saxonia approves, lib. 1. cap. 16. calling it "a depravation of the principal function:" Fuschius, lib. 1. cap. 23. Arnoldus Breviar. lib. 1. cap. 18. Guianerius, and others: "By reason of black choler," Paulus adds. Halyabbas simply calls it a "commotion of the mind." Aretæus, "a perpetual anguish of the soul, fastened on one thing, without an ague;" which definition of his, Mercurialis de affect. cap. lib. 1. cap. 10. taxeth: but Ælianus Montaltus defends, lib. de morb. cap. 1. de Melan. for sufficient and good. The common sort define it to be "a kind of dotage without a fever, having for his ordinary companions, fear and sadness, without any apparent occasion". So doth Laurentius, cap. 4. Piso, lib. 1. cap. 43. Donatus Altomarus, cap. 7. art. medic. Jacchinus, in com. in lib. 9. Rhasis ad Almansor, cap. 15. Valesius exerc. 17. Fuschius, institut. 3. sec. 1. c. 11. &c., which common definition, howsoever approved by most, Hercules de Saxonia will not allow of, nor David Crucius, Theat. morb. Herm. lib. 2. cap. 6. he holds it insufficient: "as rather showing what it is not, than what it is:" as omitting the specific difference, the phantasy and brain: but I descend to particulars. The summum genus is "dotage, or anguish of the mind," saith Aretæus; "of the principal parts," Hercules de Saxonia adds, to distinguish it from cramp and palsy, and such diseases as belong to the outward sense and motions [depraved] to distinguish it from folly and madness (which Montaltus makes angor animi, to separate) in which those functions are not depraved, but rather abolished; [without an ague] is added by all, to separate it from phrensy, and that melancholy which is in a pestilent fever. (Fear and sorrow) make it differ from madness: [without a cause] is lastly inserted, to specify it from all other ordinary passions of [fear and sorrow]. We properly call that dotage, as Laurentius interprets it, "when some one principal faculty of the mind, as imagination, or reason, is corrupted, as all melancholy persons have." It is without a fever, because the humour is most part cold and dry, contrary to putrefaction. Fear and sorrow are the true characters and inseparable companions of most melancholy, not all, as Her. de Saxonia, Tract. de posthumo de Melancholia, cap. 2. well excepts; for to some it is most pleasant, as to such as laugh most part; some are bold again, and free from all manner of fear and grief; as hereafter shall be declared.

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