Depressive Love: A Social Pathology, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Depressive Love

A Social Pathology, 1st Edition

By Emma Engdahl


122 pages

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Paperback: 9780367369538
pub: 2019-09-05
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Hardback: 9781138050150
pub: 2018-02-02
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315169033
pub: 2018-01-19
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Love and depression are key elements in the cultural script of emotions or affectual life within contemporary Western society, and the two have become intertwined to such an extent that it is informative to talk about depressive love. Indeed, the most common source of depression is intimate relationships, in which one partner is not recognised by the other as being in need or worthy of loving care. This book addresses the question of how it is possible for opposite emotional experiences such as love and depression to appear simultaneously, empirically documenting the phenomenon of depressive love and its implications through studies of art, including music, literature and photography, and the experiences of everyday life, by way of interviews and the analysis of e-mail-, sms-, messenger-correspondence, and other new media spaces. Engaging with a range of sociological, psychoanalytic and philosophical theories of love, depression and emotion, including the work of Simmel, Alberoni, Barthes, Hochschild, Giddens, Luhmann, Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, Illouz, Bauman, Hegel, Honneth, Ehrenberg, Han, Lévinas, Sartre, Freud, Lacan, and Kristeva, to name but a few, the author examines the ways in which depressive love is expressed in modern society, asking whether it is a new phenomenon and confined to the West and if not, what is distinctive about depressive love and its associated (dys)functions in contemporary Western society. An empirically rich and theoretically broad study of depressive love as a sign of our times, this book will appeal to scholars and students of social theory and the sociology and philosophy of emotion and interpersonal relationships.


‘ … this book is current, refined, and interesting not only for scholars, but for everyone who experiences relationships lacking a mutual "self-recognition" and who shares the same dissatisfaction—sometimes, the discomfort—of the protagonists of the narrated stories: the contemporary violation in emotions between the extremes of pure objectivity and subjectivity.’ - Irene Psaroudakis, Symbolic Interaction

Table of Contents



Part I: Talk of Love in the Shadowland of Despair

Part II: The Leap of Love into the Depressive Sphere

Part III: A Distorted Love Ideal




About the Author

Emma Engdahl is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the author of A Theory of the Emotional Self: From the Standpoint of a Neo-Meadian.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General