BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1594
  1. Simon Wessely, reader in psychological medicinea
  1. a Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College School of Medicine, London SE5 9RS

    The early fathers of the Church had it in for pride—Pope Gregory the Great, the one who considered us to be Angels and not Angles—considered it the worst of the Deadly Sins.1 In consequence the proud merchant or priest could be relied on to get his punishment—in this world in The Canterbury Tales, in the next in Dante's Inferno.

    By the Age of Enlightenment pride was beginning to regain its, well, pride. David Hume first hinted that it may have had a bad press—“The term pride is commonly taken in a bad sense—but this sentiment seems indifferent, and may either be good or bad, according as it is well or ill formed, and according to other circumstances which accompany it.”2 Hume accepted that it could be a positive emotion: “It is a sentiment of conscious worth, the self satisfaction proceeding from a review of a man's own character.” He also drew attention to the difference …

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