A Cold Black Humor
Advanced Search
Select up to three search categories and corresponding keywords using the fields to the right. Refer to the Help section for more detailed instructions.

Search our Collections & Repository

All these words:

For very narrow results

This exact word or phrase:

When looking for a specific result

Any of these words:

Best used for discovery & interchangable words

None of these words:

Recommended to be used in conjunction with other fields



Publication Date Range:


Document Data


Document Type:






Clear All

Query Builder

Query box

Clear All

For additional assistance using the Custom Query please check out our Help Page


A Cold Black Humor

Filetype[PDF-98.28 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Prev Chronic Dis
    • Personal Author:
    • Description:
      Robert Burton, an English Anglican priest, was one of the most educated and widely read men of his day. He lived from 1577 to 1640 and is remembered for his influential treatise, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1). Lacking knowledge of biophysical processes, early healers sought to develop models for the treatment of mental illness. In Anatomy, Burton reviews this history as well as the most modern theories of the 17th century. At that time, melancholy referred to all mental diseases and conditions and was considered one of four humors that controlled body systems: blood was a hot, sweet, red humor; phlegm was cold and moist; and choler was hot and dry. But melancholy was "cold and dry, thick, black, and sour, begotten of the more feculent part of nourishment, and purged from the spleen."

      In the 17th century, treatment for an imbalance in melancholy might have included teas, infusions, or broths of laurel, white hellebore, bugloss, marigold, or pennyroyal — or even bloodletting with horse leeches. Burton discusses the debate on whether the brain, the heart, or some other body organ is the source of melancholy, then observes, "Our body is like a clock, if one wheel be amiss, all the rest are disordered." This metaphor remains apt for describing the role of mental health in overall wellness.

    • Document Type:
    • Main Document Checksum:
    • File Type:

    Supporting Files

    More +

    You May Also Like

    Checkout today's featured content at stacks.cdc.gov