In his voluminous work THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLIA first published in 1621, the author traces the historical understanding of melancholia or depression as we know it today. Already back in the 16th century this alchemist and physician rightly spoke about depression being a disease of the spirit and that a spiritual solution need be sought for relief.
Paracelsus held the conviction that God has to be part of the healing as melancholia for him was a spiritual disease and so needed a spiritual cure. And now the insight and belief put forward by Paracelsus in the present time is being echoed in our own time by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and all those who are availing themselves of the spirituality of the Twelve Steps. All members of Twelve Step fellowships who are acknowledging the importance of a belief in a power greater than themselves have the guiding star of hope and meaning in their daily lives.”
The experiencing of those dark symptoms of depression and the hopelessness that they present, can best be understood as a painful dis-ease of the human spirit. The human spirit is filled with anxiety, a hollowness and a lack of purpose or meaning. It is this dis-ease of the human spirit which is the impetus to seek a remedy that will bring an equilibrium of meaning and purpose back into one’s fragmented life.
How often has David Karp, sociologist at Boston University writes about the number of participants in his study of depression, who speak about the benefits of a spirituality in their quest for a remedy to their sadness. The author of Speaking of Sadness was surprised at how many of his interviewed respondents gave credence to a spirituality of their own and how it buoyed their spirits and was a source of light and hope amidst the darkness.
Bill W., also depended on a Higher Power for help in bringing sobriety into his own downward spiral of alcoholism and saving his life. He makes no apologies for his belief in a Power greater than himself. And like Paracelsus, as mentioned above, saw that the cure for melancholia, a spiritual dis-ease, as that of a faith in a Power greater than oneself. As stated in the 3rd Step of Depressed Anonymous “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”
For me personally, it was only after I had hit bottom with no where to go but up, that I admitted my life was out of control and I prayed to God to help me. That is when I walked into a 12 Step Group meeting and found what I was looking for. Help and wholeness.
SOURCES: Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. Hugh Smith (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pgs. 84-85.
Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.