Caoilinn Hughes talks with Mary Cregan about her new book The Scar. …But this book is far more than a memoir: it is the result of decades of research on the medical history of the diagnosis, as well as the classification and treatment of depression and melancholia. To this rigorous and fascinating scholarship, Cregan has added the work of a variety of artists—from the ancient Greeks to Leonard Cohen. No surprise, then, that she teaches literature at Barnard College.
For a long time I couldn’t figure out how to write the book because the subject is seen by most people as “depressing.” How does one not write a depressing book about depression? Add to that the trigger of the death of an infant, and it seemed a daunting thing to invite readers to enter into. Death, grief, suicide, illness: these are subjects that a lot of people prefer to avoid thinking about.