Photo of Jonathan Sadowsky

“Depression: Medical Science and Medical Humanities”

Someone close to you is likely taking an antidepressant. In 2017, the World Health Organization named depressive disorders as the leading cause of illness and disability in the world. And yet, the definition of depression as illness, distinct from normal sadness, is still debated. How did we get here? The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities will host a presentation exploring the history of this ravaging but perplexing illness. Is it truly so widespread, or simply over-diagnosed? Is it a feature of modernity, or an illness known since antiquity? Is it found everywhere, or is it limited to certain cultural settings? Is depression mainly an emotional problem with physical expressions, or mainly a physical problem with emotional expressions? But the history of depression is not only about questions. It is also a history of hard-won knowledge, about causes and treatments—knowledge that can provide hope and relief.

To address this topic, Jonathan Sadowsky, Theodore J. Castele Professor in the Department of History, will present “Depression: Medical Science and Medical Humanities” Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Sadowsky also is the recipient of the 2020 Baker-Nord Center Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Humanities, which recognizes the outstanding scholarship of Case Western Reserve University faculty in the Humanities and their contribution to the University’s reputation.

In his presentations, he will also argue that much of our accumulated knowledge of the social and cultural dimensions of depression is on surer ground than our knowledge of its biology.

Due to social distancing requirements, this lecture will be presented virtually. It will be hosted via a livestream.