evolutionary significance of emotions !!

sisial sisial at email.msn.com
Thu Mar 2 03:40:02 EST 2000


"Pam Blundell" <pjw106 at york.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:89iram$31$1 at pump1.york.ac.uk...

> I'm afraid that is a very poor argument.  You need to compare the
percentage
> of people who are depressed, and creative, with the percentage of people
who
> are 'normal' and creative.  I don't know if this has been done, but I
would
> expect that you will not find any difference.  You also need to compare
the
> number of depressives who are creative with those who are not.  *Most*
> depressed people are not especially creative.  They are normal individuals
> with a devastating disorder.  Depression, as I said before, is an
incredibly
> debiliating condition, and often leaves people incapable of even leaving
the
> house, let alone having the motivation to do something like write or
paint.

Depression is nothing more than a grouping of symptoms with the assumption
that such a grouping represents an underlying condition. Individuals
diagnosed as depressed share common symptoms, but the conditions underlying
the experience of depression may vary (indeed, they do vary in cases where
conditions are known).

While not all depressed individuals are highly creative, there certainly
appears to be a higher incidence of depression in highly creative
individuals. In this sense, an association between creativity and depression
may exist.

In "The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness
Controversy", Arnold Ludwig presents findings that:

50-67% of artists studied displayed symptoms of severe depression as adults
at rates twice normal, and 11-17% displayed symptoms of mania. 28% displayed
symptoms of mania at the peak of their careers.

25-33% of scientists studied displayed symptoms of severed depression as
adults. 3% displayed symptoms of mania at the peak of their careers.

(Estimates for lifetime risk of developing severe depression is, I believe,
around 8% in females and 0.3% in males. Estimates for lifetime risk of
developing bipolar disorder is around 0.7% in both females and males.)

In "Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic
Temperament", Kay Jamieson presents similar findings. These are perhaps the
most often quoted studies, but there are plenty of others.


In my experience, depression has been a great asset during the incubation
process of my normal creative cycle. At other times it has proven an
inconvenience. However, at no time has it ever made me weak. On what basis
do you conclude that depression impairs peoples strength (i.e. is
debilitating)? For that matter, on what basis do you define peoples
strengths? Have you considered that such blanket statements might play a
major role in the "devastation" experienced by the individuals to whom you
apply them?

My most "devastating" experiences with depression occurred when I was
willing to blindly adopt such negative images of myself. It is very easy to
adopt a negative self image during depression; and there is certainly no
shortage of individuals willing to toss about adjectives with negative
connotations in some misconceived effort to help the depressed individual
learn to conform to some ideal or other. Like any other activity, depression
can have a "devastating" effect. But, it need not.

As for "normal individuals with a devastating disorder", this seems an
oxymoron. We exist only in action. Either my functioning is normal or it is
not normal. If by "disorder" you mean merely a deviation from a social norm,
conformance to social norms does not really seem to be an act of normal
functioning in most individuals.






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