„Depression“ and „melancholy“ in the work of Johann Christian August Heinroth (1773-1843)

Journal: Die Psychiatrie - Grundlagen und Perspektiven
ISSN: 1614-4864


Issue: 2017 (Vol. 14): Issue 3 2017
Pages: 133-135

„Depression“ and „melancholy“ in the work of Johann Christian August Heinroth (1773-1843)

H. Steinberg (1)

(1) Archiv für Leipziger Psychiatriegeschichte, Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie (Direktor: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hegerl), Universität Leipzig


nosology, history of psychiatry, 19th century


Leipzig psychiatrist Johann Christian August Heinroth came up with a totally new definition of what ‚depression‘ was by using this word for describing a purely symptomatological state of a generally sad, depressed mood. Hence his conception of ‚depression‘ was that of a clearly outlined psychopathological phenomenon. By using it mainly in his well-known Textbook of 1818, the term kept being used in psychiatry for denominating such a state of mind ever since then. By contrast, in his classification of mental illnesses Heinroth himself used the already existing term ‚melancholia‘ for denominating a depression in the modern sense by defining it as a depressive disorder or illness of the mood, since Heinroth understood the mood as one of the three basic powers of the soul, apart from the will and the mind or intellect.

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