Saturday, January 10, 2015


It’s very hard to keep your spirits up. You’ve got to keep selling yourself a bill of goods, and some people are better at lying to themselves than others. If you face reality too much, it kills you. 
-Woody Allen

We have a tendency to romanticise genius, and to set those touched by it apart from ourselves. We separate genius from mental illness, too, as mutually exclusive entities. We understand that these entities can co-exist in the same person, but if that person produces works of great talent it is because of their genius. If they kill themselves, it is because they are mentally ill. This dichotomy of thinking is wrong, just as it is probably wrong to blame external factors for the actions taken by someone whose internal workings were so complex and so intense as to be largely incomprehensible to even those who knew her well. Plath’s poetry gives us a glimpse into that inner world. No more.
-Ellen Storm

Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence. Yalom (1980) describes four such issues (or “ultimate concerns”)–death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. Death is an inevitable occurrence. Freedom, in an existential sense, refers to the absence of external structure. That is, humans do not enter a world which is inherently structured. We must give the world a structure which we ourselves create. Isolation recognizes that no matter how close we become to another person, a gap always remains, and we are nonetheless alone. Meaninglessness stems from the first three. If we must die, if we construct our own world, and if each of us is ultimately alone, then what meaning does life have?
-James Webb

It has been my experience that gifted and talented persons are more likely than those who are less gifted to experience spontaneous existential depression as an outgrowth of their mental and emotional abilities and interactions with others. People who are bright are usually more intense, sensitive, and idealistic, and they can see the inconsistencies and absurdities in the values and behaviors of others (Webb, Gore, Amend, & DeVries, 2007). This kind of sensitive awareness and idealism makes them more likely to ask themselves difficult questions about the nature and purpose of their lives and the lives of those around them. They become keenly aware of their smallness in the larger picture of existence, and they feel helpless to fix the many problems that trouble them. As a result, they become depressed.
-James Webb

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