Charles Bolwig, Max Fink, Gordon Parker and Edward Shorter (2006) Vignette prepared by Edward Shorter


        This photo was taken in 2006  on the occasion of a pioneering conference on “melancholia.” The conference was sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck, which did not attempt to intervene in either the program or the proceedings and its representatives in attendance remained resolutely mute throughout.  The conference itself, however, was a lively exchange about this very distinctive disease that has little to do with “community depression.”   Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, a Scandinavian peer-reviewed medical journal containing original research, systematic reviews etc. relating to clinical and experimental psychiatry, published the proceedings as a special supplement (2007). Alas, whatever boost the conference might have given the diagnosis was overwhelmed by DMS-5 in 2013,  that thought so little of melancholia that the diagnosis did not receive a code;  the term is not even listed in the index.  The photo itself shows Tom Bolwig, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Copenhagen, who has done important work on the underlying neurobiology of melancholia; Gordon Parker, who has played a large role in reviving the diagnosis;  Edward Shorter, who has published, along with Max Fink, a book on endocrine psychiatry, which holds that the HPA axis might offer clues to understanding that very neurobiology; and Max Fink himself, who with Michael Taylor has written a clinician’s guide to melancholia.  Thus, the photo captures a moment in time that will prove either evanescent, or ground-breaking. (See also Photo Archives,  Individual Photos).

Bolwig TG, Shorter E, editors.  Melancholia: Beyond DSM, Beyond Neurotransmitters. Acta Psych Scand, 115, nr 433, Supplementum. 2007.


August 1, 2019