Chapter 1

Creativity hurts

1.3a - Depression

depression - a mental disorder marked by inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentrating, and especially by sadness or dejection

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post-depressive work

It would appear, that everybody suffers from depression occasionally, some more often than others and some more severely then others. According to Dr.Paul Hauck :

  • Depression is not the most common emotional disturbance. Anger and fear are.
  • And we all experience anger and fear on a daily basis. In his book 'Depression' , Hauck shows that in nearly all cases, depression is self-inflicted, and comes to the conclusion that only through understanding the deeper psychological roots for the depression, one can thoroughly heal oneself from it. Antidepressant drugs play a major role taking a patient out of a current depression, but they are unlikely to truly repair the patients psyche. 'During a depression,' Prof.Dr.R.Michaelis argues,' it is nearly impossible to do anything, let alone create.

    However, it appears that quite a lot of people are creative during a depression. Most people who suffer from depression, artists and non-artists alike, experience a strong desire to work creatively during such a depression. The reason for this, I imagine is the fact that the depressed feels the desire to communicate and thus share this horrendous feeling; to tell others about the pain in an appropriate way. Straight words are often too banal and limited in their expression to communicate something rooted so deeply and which seems so important. By choosing a more ambiguous means of expression one can leave an emergency-exit ,a way to say :'No, that's not what the poem is about at all !'Hauck shows that self-pity and self-criticism are the major causes for depression because if a person criticises their every move and thinks of themselves as worthless, he/she is bound to get depressed.

    Ernest Hemingway

    Lord Byron

    The artistic profession is an extremely competitive one, not unlike some others, but more personal values are at stake. When I criticise a work of art I criticise not only the skill but also the entire person. In fact according to many artists who have replied to my questionnaire have stated directly that they feel they have to be divine/superhuman and are devastated when criticised. Some are even reluctant to show their work in case it is rejected. In order to avoid the embarrassment of rejection the artist goes through a large amount of self-criticism before he/she will show their work. Other individuals are capable of considering their work on a fully professional basis.