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Book and Media Reviews
August 25, 2010

American Melancholy: Constructions of Depression in the Twentieth Century

JAMA. 2010;304(8):907-908. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1211

In American Melancholy, medical historian and psychiatrist Laura Hirshbein has written an interesting, useful, and exceptionally readable review of the evolution of the idea of depression as a diagnosis in the United States, demonstrating how this seemingly narrow topic has broader implications regarding research, social identification, and clinical care when gender has been one of the basic elements. I did not find this work aggressively critical, as could easily have been the case. Using her expertise as a clinician and historian, the author has brought together overviews of various topics that the reader may find compelling or enlightening.