A Mood Apart: The Thinker's Guide to Emotion and Its by Peter C. Whybrow

By Peter C. Whybrow

"A compassionate exploration of melancholy and manic-depression."
-- Forecast
"The so much thorough and wide-ranging dialogue for lay readers concerning the interaction of the actual and emotional parts of melancholy and manic-depression... His presentation is illuminating, and the case histories display his sensitivity and talent as a clinician.... Whybrow's presentation bargains a deeper realizing of, in addition to a humane and clever method of those very troubling illnesses."
-- Kirkus studies

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Additional resources for A Mood Apart: The Thinker's Guide to Emotion and Its Disorders

Example text

Throughout life, human beings strive for meaning and for a stable future in which change can be pre­ dicted and controlled to serve a personal destiny. Transient episodes of sadness and depression are ubiquitous, and are important points of emotional reference as we navigate the complexities o f everyday life. These moments o f common experience are entirely distinct, however, from the illness o f melancholia. The roots of serious melancholic de­ pression grow slowly over years and are usually shaped by many sepa­ rate events, each o f which combines in a way unique to the individual.

The experience of sadness is common to all; extending from this ex­ perience, melancholic depression stands at one extreme o f a spectrum of mood. It is the emotional pole we glimpse while in the throes of grief. There exists a similar pole at the opposite extreme o f human feel­ ing, but it is one less encountered. About 20 percent of those who suffer debilitating depression also experience something called mania. Whereas in depression energy and positive thinking shrink and contract, in mania they accelerate and expand, magnifying and ultimately distorting the normal experience of happiness.

Strictly speaking, mood is the consistent extension o f emotion in time. An emo­ tion is usually transient and responsive to the thoughts, activities, and social situations o f the day. Moods, in contrast, may last for hours, days, or even months in the case o f some depressions. Moods also have their own halo effect: They recruit memory and any ongoing experience and color these with the prevailing mood state. T o return to my earlier analogy, expressed emotion is evidence o f the homeostatic regulator at work, while mood is the set point around which it oscillates— a set point that for most people is fairly neutral and stable, much as an active ther­ mostat maintains the steady temperature o f a room.

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