Pierre Fédida

The Benefits of Depression An Appreciation of Psychotherapy Publication date : March 1, 2003

Is depression an illness that manifests itself in the form of a number of somatic disorders? Is it an illness that can be readily recognised by clinical symptoms which can be treated, quickly and efficiently, with adequate medication? But if we say that mental suffering can be cured with chemicals, aren’t we denying the real issues that gave rise to the depression in the first place? Must the psyche be banished in order to eliminate depression? Isn’t there another way of overcoming depression? Based on his long experience as a practising psychoanalyst, Pierre Fédida shows that the emergence of a depressive state can always be explained by what could be called the human capacity for depression, i.e the psychic ability to cushion the blows of existence. Without this protection, humans become depressed and can only continue living in a minimal manner because they are afraid they will be unable to cope with more. The goal of the psychotherapy of depressive states should be the recovery of the capacity to fight off such states. Only then can life be revitalised from within, without resorting to chemical mediators.

“Pierre Fédida restores melancholy to an esteemed position, and sythesizes the various approaches to what is commonly known as depression.”

Le Monde

Pierre Fédida, a psychoanalyst who studied under Ludwig Binswanger, taught at the University of Paris-VII where he headed the Centre d’Études du Vivant. He was preparing the paperback edition of book, generally regarded as his major work, when he died on 1st November 2002.