chapter  4
31 Pages

Personality, personality disorder, and depression

The idea that proneness to depression and personality may be related is traceable to the Greeks. The physicians Hippocrates, Empoedocles, and Galen believed that there were four basic elements (water, fi re, air, and earth) four qualities (heat, cold, dry, and damp) four body humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) and, according to the preponderance of various body humours, four personality types (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic). Consequently, depression was seen in terms of a dimensional variation of premorbid personality. This view has been with us ever since. You may recall from Chapter 1, Bonhoeffer (1911) noted individuals who from “youth onwards are inclined to take things badly, whose depressive reactions are generally severe and of more than average duration”. These reactions were regarded as being constitutionally based (i.e., partly endogenous). And so the notion of depressive personality has been with us a long time and continues to stimulate debate (Phillips, Gunderson, Hirschfeld, & Smith, 1990).