Τhe 30.1 Aristotelian problem is the most comprehensive and organized analysis of the phenomenon of melancholy in Aristotelian Corpus. Although, there are serious doubts if this text, as it was survived today, was written by Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) or by one of his followers –perhaps Theophrastus (372–287 B.C.)– nevertheless it is widely accepted that reflects the authentic ideas of Aristotle. The two counterbalancing sentiments, this of mirthfulness and this of moroseness, which are attributed in the text to the “melancholic” persons, introduce the primary difficulty, in order to be understood the unclear notion of melancholy in this work. All the previous approaches understood these sentiments, as diversity in the symptomatology of melancholy that is the ancient mental disorder which is similar to modern depression. But according to our point of view, this text is a study of pathological physiology, underling the significant role of black bile as the causative factor of the above two emotions in humans under the specific influence of temperature. Humor’s overheat had as result the mirthfulness and its overcooling the moroseness. The reference to the healthy people and the graduation of the quantity of black bile in human body, as little, middle and massive, which is associated to the mentally ill persons, indicate that these two emotions were not only recognized as pathological manifestations of patients, but also as temperamental characteristics of healthy people, which arise from the same alteration of this humor, when its quantity is limited. Examining deeper the psychopathological aspect of this content, we may assume that, due to the fact mirthfulness was presented in the form of excessive enthusiasm, passion and courage and on the other hand moroseness by the distinctive elements of irrational fear, indolence and absurdity, the first one referred to mania and the second to melancholy, since their descriptions correspond to the basic features of each disease. Therefore, under the new reading, black bile should be perceived as the common source of the above two mental disorders, expressing the Aristotelian version of their correlation, which preoccupied many of the ancient Greek physicians as Themison (1st century B.C.) and his followers, Rufus of Ephesus (1st century A.D.), Galen (130–201 A.D.) and Aretaeus of Cappadocia (2nd century A.D.). This one probably derived from the difficulty to be fixed the limits between these two diseases, because anger and fear could be present in both situations provoking the confusion. Finally, we should reject the hypothesis of bipolar disorder’s presentation, because text’s generality does not allow the limitation to only one pathological phenomenon, while the absence of particular data on the duration and sequence of the two different emotional states acts as a deterrent for such a conclusion.
Key words: Aristotelian Problem 30. 1, melancholy, bipolar disorders.
K. Laios, M. Karamanou, V.P. Kontaxakis, G. Androutsos (page 153) - Full article