Today’s topic comes from Greg’s second comment on last week’s topic.
Is there, in fact, a link between the depressive personality and the creative one? Do they inhabit the same skin? The answer is a definite maybe. It all depends on the latest study done, which may say the opposite of the study before that. There are some interesting parallels, however, between the manic phase of bipolar disorder and the creative process.
Some research suggests that it is not depression but rather the coming out of depression which engenders a burst of creativity. This seems reasonable; if you’ve been seeing through a glass darkly and daylight begins to break, isn’t that cause for a psalm of joy? Or perhaps an epic tragedy?
The belief that depression is a necessary component of creativity may be a cultural orientation: “In the West many people believe that creativity comes from torment, while in the East there is more of a tradition of great art coming from balance and realization.”
Author, psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel is quoted as saying, “Creators are not necessarily afflicted with some biological disease or physiological disorder… They experience depression simply because they are caught up in a struggle to make life seem meaningful to them.”
If you’re a happy and creative person, don’t hunt for reasons to be unhappy on the theory that you’re not down in the trenches with the rest of us. And for those who are depressed, perhaps it will help to believe that although “weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, speaking of psalms), and your creative cup will runneth over once more.
UPDATE, 12/16: Health.com has made a list of 10 Careers with High Rates of Depression. “Artist, entertainer, writer” is listed at number six. Right before “teacher.”