Let me tackle this one from a different point of view though.
About a week ago I read an article about a groundbreaking find: Mildly Depressed People More Perceptive Than Others.
Surprisingly, people with mild depression are actually more tuned into the feelings of others than those who aren't depressed, a team of Queen's psychologists has discovered.
At first the researchers were so stunned with the results that they performed the study again with a different group only to produce the same results:
People with mild symptoms of depression pay more attention to details of their social environment than those who are not depressed.
Previous similar studies were done with clinically depressed persons and I guess that now they have reached the conclusion that mild depression and clinical depression may be two different things, which is a controversial idea.
You may have the same reaction to this article/research as I had.
To be honest I don't know much about clinical depression but I think most people have experienced mild depression at some point in their lives, either due to objective reasons or simply because they are more prone to it.
From our experience then, haven't we all noticed that when depression hits us, we become more sensitive, that we can notice every little thing in the people around us, a lingering look, a sigh, raising of the eyebrows?
So why were the researchers surprised?
Also, if I return to what I started with, the argument that depression helps the artist be more creative, then again I'm at a loss with the researchers' surprise at their findings.
Aren't creative people usually 'accused' of being artiste types, prone to depression and forms of madness? And don't we all know how sensitive creative people are? They must be. Artists' social and environmental sensitivity is almost a requirement to their artistic expression. If artists wish to express other people's feelings in their art, to show the world's beauty, people's goodness, or even plush fields, they must know what that is like.
How would otherwise writers describe people's feelings and behavior if they weren't sensitive to it? How would a painter show emotions in their drawings if they weren't sensitive to those very emotions they're trying to paint?
I'm not saying that all artists are, by definition, mildly depressed. Far from it. But we've all encountered those little depression spells that somehow cause the sensitivity to become acute and the creative juices to flow.
If they had asked me, those researchers, I could have told them what to expect. It seems rather obvious to me.
Categories: writing, general, science