Manic Depression and Creativity

Manic Depression and Creativity

Manic Depression and Creativity

Manic Depression and Creativity


From Plato, who originated the idea of inspired mania, to Beethoven, Dickens, Newton, Van Gogh, and today's popular creative artists and scientists who've battled manic depression, this intriguing work examines creativity and madness in mystery, myth, and history.


D. Jablow Hershman

We are in the midst of a revolution in attitudes toward depression and, to some extent, manic-depression as well. In the late seventies, when I began the investigations that led to the writing of the initial edition of this book, I went to the medical library of Yale University to find out what was known about manic-depression.To my amazement, the books on the subject were so few that I could carry them home under one arm. Very little research had been done on affective disorders and very little of value was being done for the patients. The general public knew nothing about mental illness and cared less. That is, until the epidemic of drug use began sending the children of suburbia into hospitals, inevitably blurring the distinction between those deemed mentally ill and those considered to be normal people with problems.

Today, it is a different world. An antidepressant is the subject of a best seller. The pharmaceutical industry is spending fortunes on the development of new antidepressants, as well as on advertisements for these products on television, in national magazines, and in local newspapers. Every month brings reports of new studies of depression, and to a lesser extent, manic-depression. Articles about the symptoms of depression and the neurological processes underlying it appear not only in scientific periodicals but in popular magazines. Primary care physicians are prescribing drugs to ease depression and anxiety that were considered the exclusive domain of psychiatrists a decade ago. And the emotionally distressed can cut the medical profession completely out of the loop if they care to. Saint John's Wort, an herbal antidepressant, is available to the general public in drug stores and at discount stores.

Among my own acquaintances I have seen a dramatic change in general attitudes toward depression. A friend of mine was chronically depressed for years and did not understand what was happening to her. She attributed her unhappiness first . . .

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