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Images of depression in Charles Baudelaire: clinical understanding in the context of poetry and social history.

Authors
  • Stanghellini, Giovanni1, 2
  • Ikkos, George3
  • 1 University of Florence, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 2 'D. Portales' University, Santiago, Chile. , (Chile)
  • 3 Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
BJPsych bulletin
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
48
Issue
1
Pages
33–37
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1192/bjb.2022.84
PMID: 36539257
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

There is increasing recognition of the importance of the humanities and arts in medical and psychiatric training. We explore the poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and its evocations of depression through themes of mood, time and self-consciousness and discuss their relation to images of 'spleen', the 'snuffling clock' and the 'sinister mirror'. Following the literary critical commentaries of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and Jean Starobinski (1920-2019) we identify some of their roots in the poet's experience of the rapid and alienating urbanisation of 19th-century Paris. Appreciation of the rich vocabulary of poetry and the images it generates adds depth to clinical practice by painting vivid pictures of subjective experience, including subjective experience of the 'social' as part of the biopsychosocial constellation.

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