Between Furor and Consumption: Love, Soul and Body in Medical and Literary Western Tradition

Valentina Gazzaniga

Abstract


Love is a psychic force capable of converting itself into a real disease, as abundantly demostrated by the medical contemporary literature and by the interest of the law to the issue of protection of the objects of persecution of unrequited love. The dual nature of love, capable of harmful or sel- destructive metamorphoses, is a common topic of medical thought from Greek antiquity, even if it is openly thematized only from Late Antiquity and more deeply in Westerm medical medieval tradition. Nevertheless, it remains to analyze some aspects of the definition of lovesickness, especially in long-term perspective: what are the relations that lovesickness has with the more general category of medical melancholy? Is it a real disease or just one of the forms of madness and fury? Does it affect women more than men? Is it in some way linked to hysteria, greensickness, uterine fury and womb diseases as codified by medical and philosophical ancient thought? 

 

Key words: Lovesickness - Melancholy - Long-term medical traditions 





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