Aristotle and DSM on ‘Bipolar’ Melancholy: Symptoms, Medication, Link to Creativity.

Main Article Content

Marlies ter borg

Abstract

That Aristotle connected excellence, creativity to (bipolar) melancholy is known. This article adds depth and detail by distilling from his work characteristics of hot and cold melancholy, placing them in pairs of opposites, and comparing them with the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder in DSM. The Greek warned against extreme mood. He named two examples of mythical persons who suffered the tragic consequences; Ajax’ suicide and Hercules’ manic destruction of his wife and children. More recent examples are Vincent van Gogh, who committed suicide and his brother Theo who attacked his wife and child, was interned and finally succumbed from the consequences of extreme mania.


Aristotle urged melancholics to temper their mood. For it was only from mild melancholy that sustained creativity could be expected. He advocated hellebore as medicine. His general ethical advice to strive towards the opposite extreme is especially relevant for melancholics. Aristotle’s work on excellence and bipolar melancholy can inspire those confronted with bipolar disorder today to temper their mood. The examples of famous melancholics throughout the ages bring comfort and a sense of belonging.


The author, who is stabilized on lithium, holds up the example of the van Gogh family who, lacking the effective the medicine available today, communicated openly with each other about their disorder. With the new 20th century medication, perfected in our own time, it is from increased openness that the major advances in mental health are now to be expected.

Article Details

How to Cite
BORG, Marlies ter. Aristotle and DSM on ‘Bipolar’ Melancholy: Symptoms, Medication, Link to Creativity.. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 9, n. 5, may 2021. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/2441>. Date accessed: 24 june 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v9i5.2441.
Section
Research Articles

References

Borg M ter, Bipolar creativity through the ages, Independently published 2021,
available from Amazon Books
Most quotes from Aristotle in this article refer to this book, especially to the
Essay by Aristotle ‘On Melancholy’ included as an appendix in this book p 143-147
Detail from Aristotle with a bust of Homer Rembrandt 1653, MOMA
Eijk P van der, Medicine and Philosophy in classical antiquity, p. 167,
Cambridge University Press 2010
Kraepelin E, Die Melancholie, ein Zustandsbild der manisch-depressieven Irresein, 1907.
Jamison K R, 1993. Touched with fire, manic-depressive illness and the artistic
Temperament. Simon & Schuster, New York.
Akiskal HS & Akiskal K, In search of Aristotle: Temperament, human nature,
melancholia, creativity and eminence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2007, 100, 1-6.
7 Pies R, The historical roots of the “bipolar spectrum”: Did Aristotle anticipate
Kraepelin’s concept of manic-depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 2007, 100, 7-11
8 Ghaemi, G.N., Aristotle on manic-depressive illness and greatness, Bipolar Disorders, 2020


American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders
(DSM-5) 2020
Borg M. ter & Kasteleijn-Nolst-Trenité, D. The cultural context of diagnosis:
the case of Vincent van Gogh, Epilepsy and Behavior 2012
D’Éxekias, Ajax preparing for suicide. Black figure on amphora, Greece 540 BC
Chateaux-Musée Boulogne-sur-Mer
Ovid, 8 AD, 1991, Metamorphosis, Translated with commentary: Lee A G,
Bristol Classical Press, 1991
Canova A, Hercules murdering his family, 1795-1815, Musei Civici di Bassano del grappa
Euripides, Madness of Hercules, Children of Hercules, 430 BCE, transl, A.S. Loeb
Van Gogh Museum, The letters, Vincent van Gogh The Complete Illustrated and
Annotated Edition Edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker
Online with a search function http://vangoghletters.org/vg
Vincent to Theo van Gogh, The Letters, Auvers -sur-Oise, Tuesday, 3 June 1890
Ven F van der, Brothers, Frères, Broers, bronze, Aerdenhout 2020, inspired by the relation between the brothers Vincent and Theo van Gogh.
Zadkine O, Projet pour le monument aux frères van Gogh, Zundert 1963 Voskuil P H, Het medische dossier van Theo van Gogh. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde,1992;136:1777-80. Willem Arnstzhuis te Urecht.Voskuil P H, Het medische dossier van Theo van Gogh. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde,1992;136:1777-80. Willem Arnstzhuis te Urecht.
Gachet, P. F. , l’ L’Étude sur la Mélancholie, Montpellier, 1858 available on internet: www.biusante.parisdescartes.fr/histoire/medica/resultats/index.php?do=page&cote=TMON1858x038&p=43
20 Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Ferdinand Gachet, by Vincent van Gogh,
Auvers, 1890, Private collection, Wikimedia commons
Aristotle, Metaphysics, 350 BCE, translator, Reeve, Hackett Publishing Company, 2016
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics VII xiv/12 /6 about 350 BCE Greek-English version
Harvard University Press. 1926/1976 translator Rackham H.
Burton R, The Cure of Melancholy, part 2, section 4, The Anatomy of Melancholy, (1628)
Brown W A, Lithium: A Doctor, a Drug, and a Breakthrough Liveright, 2019
Johnson B The Fortunate Isles and their Union. In: Orgel, S. (ed.), 1624/1969
Goodwin F K, Jamison, KR, 2007. Manic-Depressive Illness,
Bipolar Disorder and Recurrent Depression. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics, I.3, p.19 transl. Anthony Kenny, Oxford University Press 2011
I have rearranged the original version which has the mean on the right, for the mean to be in the middle and I have added the sub headings hot, tempered and cold melaina cholè.
Aristotle On Prophesying by Dreams, 463 b 17 translated by John Isaac Beare,
Wiki source. org
Frances and First DSM-IV Guidebook, American Psychiatric Pub Inc; 1995
Schou M et al. Prophylactic lithium: double blind discontinuation in manic-depressive and recurrent depressive disorders. Lancet 1970
Maigne R, Témoingage d'un patient expert et président de Bipolarité France
https://www.troubles-bipolaires.com/patient-bipolaire-temoignage/.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

Obs.: This plugin requires at least one statistics/report plugin to be enabled. If your statistics plugins provide more than one metric then please also select a main metric on the admin's site settings page and/or on the journal manager's settings pages.