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Omnibus: Causes

Four hundred years ago, Robert Burton wrote an epic attempt to understand melancholy. What can it teach us today?

In 1621, Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy. It was the first attempt in the modern western world to understand and categorise causes, symptoms and treatments of that universal human experience.

Writing from Oxford where he was a life-long scholar, librarian of Christ Church and a vicar, Burton drew on the writing of others and also his own experiences.

In this omnibus, writer Amy Liptrot, puts causes of melancholy identified by Robert Burton under the spotlight.

Professor John Geddes, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford, joins Amy at Christ Church Cathedral where Burton is buried to discuss the links between genetics and depression.

Amy takes a swim in Rydal Waters in the Lake District and investigates a new avenue of research linking inflammation and depression.

A survivor from the Manchester Arena attack shares her experience of post-traumatic stress disorder and the ways in which the innovative Manchester Resilience Hub have helped her recover. How is PTSD linked with depression or low mood?

And Amy looks at whether poverty and inequality, cited as a cause for melancholy by Burton, are reasons for depression in today’s society?

Simon Russell Beale brings the voice of Robert Burton to life with extracts from The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Presenter: Amy Liptrot
Reader: Simon Russell Beale
Producer: Ruth Abrahams
Sound design: Alice K. Winz
Series consultant: John Geddes

A Whistledown production for Radio 4

Available now

57 minutes

Last on

Fri 15 May 2020 21:00