Spiritual Physic

A painting of a woman - she is sitting and looks towards a mirror behind her. There is a candle reflected in the mirror


Spiritual Physic: From despair to hope with the Anatomy of Melancholy

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 Thursday 17 February 2022

 6–7pm (GMT)

  St Thomas the Martyr Church, St Thomas’ Street
Oxford OX1 1JL

  Free event, booking required

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About the event

In The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621–51), Robert Burton describes melancholy as a disease of the soul, and God was at the heart of his conception of melancholy and of mental health. A priest himself, he saw his pastoral role as a form of ‘spiritual physic’, or medicine. Burton saw a crucial role for prayer in times of crisis, but also identified and challenged dysfunctional religious practices and beliefs which exacerbated melancholy.

This panel discussion event takes place in the church where Burton himself was Vicar, with experts on Burton and contemporary approaches to faith and mental health. The panel will explore Burton’s inclusion of ‘religious melancholy’ as a species of the disease, his conception of cure, and echoes of his faith-based approach in contemporary challenges to mental health and remedies for modern melancholy.

Please meet us at St Thomas the Martyr Church, St Thomas’ Street, Oxford OX1 1JL for this event.


Dr Kathryn Murphy, Associate Professor in English Literature, Oriel College, University of Oxford


Dr Mary Ann Lund, Associate Professor in Renaissance English Literature, University of Leicester and author of ‘A User’s Guide to Melancholy’

Gulamabbas Lakha, Tutor in Psychology of Religion, University of Oxford and Shaykh with the Muslim community

Fr Christopher Woods, Vicar of St Barnabas Jericho & St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford


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This event is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust.

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