Toward a Phenemonology of Depression: Merleau-Ponty and the Plunge into the Present

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Gilbert, Jill Marie
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University of Guelph

The goal of this work is to try to understand and identify the reality that corresponds to the word “depression.” My orientation is to treat depression as a problem that is nonetheless a way of living, and an experience that will be better understood and articulated through the performing of a phenomenological investigation. I proceed in three stages, and this phenomenology will be the third, and final stage. I present in the first stage crucial insights from the tradition of phenomenological inquiry, regarding what form lived experience actually takes, drawing primarily from Merleau-Ponty and thinkers inspired by him. The second stage draws on a synthetic, historical account to determine what the reality corresponding to depression has been. The third stage of the thesis, and my main accomplishment, will be to unite these first two parts into a phenomenological description of the lived experience of depression. This stage is oriented towards demonstrating that the phenomenon can be understood as the inter-relation of four fundamental features.

Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology, Depression