Byron's Depression Reflected in Manfred Essay

Byron's Depression Reflected in Manfred Essay

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Byron's Swiss tour and Manfred hit close to home for me. Not because I have traveled Switzerland, but because at one time in my life, I also experienced feelings of alienation and hopelessness. Therefore, I was quite intrigued by Dr Miall's notion of trauma in Manfred. I think he makes a compelling argument, especially when he pairs the notion of trauma with Freud's theory on the causes of trauma, but I do not necessarily agree with him entirely. While Dr Miall's theory is sound, I do not think his definition of trauma is clearly defined. I think a better, but not nearly as interesting theory, is that of depression. Although the symptoms of both psychological disorders are almost indistinguishable, their sources are quite different. I will distinguish the differences and sources between posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. Then I will try to show how Byron suffers from depression, not the result of trauma.

Trauma is "[a] psychic injury, esp. one caused by emotional shock the memory of which is repressed and remains unhealed; an internal injury, esp. to the brain, which may result in a behavioural disorder of organic origin. Also, the state or condition so caused" ("trauma," def. 2a). Trauma is often the cause of posttraumatic stress disorder, which although is not defined in Dr Miall's notes, did however come up in class. Posttraumatic stress disorder "involves enduring psychological disturbance attributed to the experience of a major traumatic event" (Weiten 544). By looking at that definition, Dr Miall's theory does apply; however, Weiten's textbook reveals that the types of trauma that lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, from the most prevalent to the least, for men (since the discussion is about Byron) are: w...


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...ces of trauma and the sources of depression. Both lead to the same symptoms, but I think depression better represents Byron's state of mind. Freud's theory on trauma can work if one sees Manfred/Byron suffering from trauma, but it does not work if one sees him as suffering from depression. I must admit that I am biased in my conclusion. I am drawn to my theory based on my own personal experiences.


Works Cited

Byron, George Gordon. Manfred. Romanticism: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Duncan Wu. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1998. 718-751.

"trauma." Def. 2a. The Oxford English Dictionary Online. 1989. Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. University of Alberta Library. Edmonton, Alberta. 3 April 2005. http://dictionary.oed.com.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/.

Weiten, Wayne. Psychology: Themes and Variations. 5th ed. Toronto, Ontario: Wadsworth, 2001.

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