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Remedies for sadness :'(

Saint Thomas Aquinas analyses what remedies we have for sorrow or pain: pleasure, tsadnessears, friends, truth, sleep and baths!

(Extracts from the Summa Theologica, part II, question 38)


"...As is evident from what has been said above (Question 23, Article 4), pleasure is a kind of repose of the appetite in a suitable good; while sorrow arises from something unsuited to the appetite. Consequently in movements of the appetite pleasure is to sorrow, what, in bodies, repose is to weariness, which is due to a non-natural transmutation; for sorrow itself implies a certain weariness or ailing of the appetitive faculty. Therefore just as all repose of the body brings relief to any kind of weariness, ensuing from any non-natural cause; so every pleasure brings relief by assuaging any kind of sorrow, due to any cause whatever."


"Augustine says (Confess. iv, 7) that when he mourned the death of his friend, 'in groans and in tears alone did he find some little refreshment.'

...Tears and groans naturally assuage sorrow: and this for two reasons. First, because a hurtful thing hurts yet more if we keep it shut up, because the soul is more intent on it: whereas if it be allowed to escape, the soul's intention is dispersed as it were on outward things, so that the inward sorrow is lessened. This is why men, burdened with sorrow, make outward show of their sorrow, by tears or groans or even by words, their sorrow is assuaged. Secondly, because an action, that befits a man according to his actual disposition, is always pleasant to him. Now tears and groans are actions befitting a man who is in sorrow or pain; and consequently they become pleasant to him. Since then, as stated above (Article 1), every pleasure assuages sorrow or pain somewhat, it follows that sorrow is assuaged by weeping and groans."

Compassion of a friend

"The Philosopher [Aristotle] says (Ethica ix, 11) that those who are in pain are consoled when their friends sympathize with them.

...When one is in pain, it is natural that the sympathy of a friend should afford consolation: whereof the Philosopher indicates a twofold reason (Ethic. ix, 11). The first is because, since sorrow has a depressing effect, it is like a weight whereof we strive to unburden ourselves: so that when a man sees others saddened by his own sorrow, it seems as though others were bearing the burden with him, striving, as it were, to lessen its weight; wherefore the load of sorrow becomes lighter for him: something like what occurs in the carrying of bodily burdens. The second and better reason is because when a man's friends condole with him, he sees that he is loved by them, and this affords him pleasure, as stated above (Question 32, Article 5). Consequently, since every pleasure assuages sorrow, as stated above (Article 1), it follows that sorrow is mitigated by a sympathizing friend."

Contemplation of truth

"Augustine says (Soliloq. i, 12): 'It seemed to me that if the light of that truth were to dawn on our minds, either I should not feel that pain, or at least that pain would seem nothing to me.'

...the greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth. Now every pleasure assuages pain as stated above (Article 1): hence the contemplation of truth assuages pain or sorrow, and the more so, the more perfectly one is a lover of wisdom. And therefore in the midst of tribulations men rejoice in the contemplation of Divine things and of future Happiness, according to James 1:2: "My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations": and, what is more, even in the midst of bodily tortures this joy is found; as the "martyr Tiburtius, when he was walking barefoot on the burning coals, said: Methinks, I walk on roses, in the name of Jesus Christ." [Cf. Dominican Breviary, August 11th, commemoration of St. Tiburtius.]

Sleep and baths

"Augustine says (Confess. ix, 12): 'I had heard that the bath had its name [Balneum, from the Greek balaneion] . . . from the fact of its driving sadness from the mind.' (...)

...sorrow, by reason of its specific nature, is repugnant to the vital movement of the body; and consequently whatever restores the bodily nature to its due state of vital movement, is opposed to sorrow and assuages it. Moreover such remedies, from the very fact that they bring nature back to its normal state, are causes of pleasure; for this is precisely in what pleasure consists, as stated above (Question 31, Article 1). Therefore, since every pleasure assuages sorrow, sorrow is assuaged by such like bodily remedies."


Saint Thomas has an entire analysis of human activity, of which the analysis of the 11 passions is one part. It is all shaped and ordered within a theological perspective, and these sections are of real value for seeking to better understand the human creatures that we are.

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