Mood disorder in the personal correspondence of Robert Burns: Testing a novel interdisciplinary approach

M. Hansen, D.J. Smith, G. Carruthers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Robert Burns has long been recognised as someone who experienced
episodes of melancholia, but no detailed, systematic and objective
assessment of his mental health has been undertaken. We tested a novel
methodology, combining psychiatric and literary approaches, to assess the
feasibility of using Burns’s extensive personal correspondence as a source of
evidence for assessing the presence of symptoms of a clinically signi cant
mood disorder. We con rmed the potential of this approach and identi ed putative evidence of episodes of depression and hypomania within the correspondence. While not conclusive of a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder, this work highlights a need for further systematic examination of Burns’s mental health and how this may have in uenced his work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165–74
JournalJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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