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Unformatted text preview: nd desire is the therapeutic problem of the
physician and especially in the condition described as anhedonia.
In anhedonia, as first described by Ribot, mentioned by James, and which has recently been worked up by
myself as a group of symptoms in mental and nervous disease, as well as in life in general, there is a
characteristic lack of enthusiasm in anticipation and realization, a lack of appetite and desire, a lack of CHAPTER X. 86 satisfaction. Nothing appeals, and the values drop out of existence. The victims of anhedonia at first pass from
one "pleasure" to another, hoping each will please and satisfy, but it does not. Food, drink, work, play, sex,
music, art,--all have lost their savor. Restless, introspective, with a feeling of unreality gripping at his heart,
the patient finds himself confronting a world that has lost meaning because it has lost enthusiasm in desire and
How does this unhappy state arise? In the first place, from the very start of life people differ in the quality of
eagerness. There is a wide variability in these qualities. Of two infants one will call lustily for whatever he
wants, show great glee in anticipating, great eagerness in seeking, and a high degree of satisfaction when his
desire is gratified. And another will be lackadaisical in his appetite, whimsical, "hard to please" and much
more difficult to keep pleased. Fatigue will strip the second child of the capacity to eat and sleep, to say
nothing of his desires for social pleasures, whereas it will only dampen the zeal and eagerness of the first
child. There is a hearty simple type of person who is naively eager and enthusiastic, full of desire, passion and
enthusiasm, who finds joy and satisfaction in simple things, whose purposes do not grow stale or monotonous;
there is a finicky type, easily displeased and dissatisfied, laying weight on trifles, easily made anhedonic,
victims of any reduction in their own energy (which is on the whole low) or of a...
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- Spring '11