Therapeutic howl

Dr. Helen's speculation about bloggers being people who don't feel well has cheered me immeasurably:

Winston Churchill once said, "85% of the world's work is done by people who don't feel very well." Perhaps this saying applies to bloggers. Is it my imagination or do a lot of bloggers seem to be people who don't feel very well?
What's interesting to me is the quote from Churchill, whose primary problem was depression.

His "black dog," as he called it:

"Black Dog" was Churchill's name for his depression, and as is true with all metaphors, it speaks volumes. The nickname implies both familiarity and an attempt at mastery, because while that dog may sink his fangs into one's person every now and then, he's still, after all, only a dog, and he can be cajoled sometimes and locked up other times.

The man was in lustrous company - Goethe, Schumann, Luther, and Tolstoy to name but a few - all of them great men who suffered from recurrent depression. Who doesn't have at least a passing familiarity with the notion that depression sometimes acts as a spur to those of a certain temperament and native ability? Aware of how low they will sink at times, they propel themselves into activity and achievements the rest of us regard with awe.

There's even a Black Dog Institute in Australia, featuring this logo:


Notwithstanding Mohammad's fear of these mischievous animals, I rather like the emotionally detached idea of bloggers utilizing black dogs in packs.

MORE: Black dog bloggers with thoughts of unpacking might want to read this.

UPDATE (12/23/05): My thanks to Dr. Helen for linking this post!

posted by Eric on 12.21.05 at 09:36 AM


"I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would be not one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better it appears to me."
--Abraham Lincoln

Harkonnendog   ·  December 21, 2005 5:55 PM

Nu-unh! I'm a happy, well-adjusted guy who just writes nonsense for little reason at all. If I was forced to give a reason, I'd say 'unaspected Mercury' and tell 'em to ef off. I mean, heck, it's as good a reason as that one, isn't it? LOL

urthshu   ·  December 22, 2005 5:46 AM

There is NO good side to depression. How anyone can think that anything makes up for a brain disorder that means the only way you can feel in control of your life is to think about killing yourself is frankly very very wrong.

The depressed can do great things for society because they see the world as it is. This comes at enormous personal cost.

Rob Read   ·  December 22, 2005 7:05 AM

It's easy to say depression is wrong in the theoretical sense, but I don't think it's helpful to someone who is depressed because of very real losses. If someone loses all that he loved, how is he wrong to be depressed?

You're right, of course, that suicide is wrong. It shouldn't be an option for anyone who cares about other people, no matter how depressed he might become.

If, as you say, the depressed "see the world as it is," why can't that be considered a good side? Lots of things come at enormous personal cost.

To play the devil's advocate here, what would have been the advantage of medicating people like Patton and Churchill into a state of happiness and tranquility?

Eric Scheie   ·  December 22, 2005 9:30 AM

I certainly don't feel well. When Gloria Steinem opined that the dearth of great women artists was because you don't get great art from mutilated personalites, to which Paglia retorted, You ONLY get great art from mutiliated personalities.

beautifulatrocities   ·  December 22, 2005 12:46 PM

If Steinem had had any sense of humor, she'd have been quick to reply something like, "Well then, that means I must be a great artist!"

(To which Paglia could have answered that Steinem was the exception that proves the rule.)

Eric Scheie   ·  December 22, 2005 1:21 PM

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