Sadness, Depression and the Dark Night of the Soul: Transcending the Medicalisation of Sadness
By Dr Gloria Dura-Vila
What is the book about?
I found that religion played a crucial role in the way sadness was understood and resolved: symptoms that otherwise might have been described as evidence of a depressive episode were often understood in those more religiously committed within the framework of the Dark Night of the Soul narrative, an active transformation of emotional distress into a process of self-reflection, attribution of religious meaning and spiritual growth. A complex portrayal of the role of the spiritual director and the parish priest in helping those undergoing sadness and depression emerged, containing positive aspects and criticisms of some priests’ lack of commitment and mental health training.
The narratives and arguments presented here emphasise the importance of taking into account the context of depressive symptoms, as the absence of an appropriate context is seemingly what made participants conceptualise them as abnormal. They also warn about the risks of medicalising normal episodes of sadness, raising questions about the lack of validity of the current decontextualised diagnostic classification for depressive disorder to people who are not mental health experts.
You are warmly invited to the book launch on Monday 12th June 6.30pm (Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL). I will also be joined by Professor Gerard Leavey, Professor Roland Littlewood, and Professor Kate Loewenthal.
All welcome! More information about the launch and registration: