Thomas Russell Wingate
Creative people can be fascinating to study—from a distance.
It is widely known, and frequently confessed, that they are not the smoothest pebbles on the beach.
We are all ambivalent about this.
The relationship between bipolar depression and the creative minority has been studied in all manner of ways.¹
Bipolar depression tends to be inherited.
In my own case, that is certainly true.
It is a curse for most who have it. I turned it to my advantage through force of will and power of intellect.
My father never broke its grip. Had effective medications been available, he would have spurned them. Tragedy piled upon tragedy. He inherited the wind (Proverbs 11:29).
If you have a formal diagnosis of bipolar depression, Harvard wants to preserve and study your brain—after you’re through with it, of course.
Harvard Psychiatry Brain Collection
115 Mill Street
Belmont, Massachusetts 02178-9106
I was correctly diagnosed in 1994, when I was forty-seven. Harvard has been waiting for ex-me since 1998.
Anne has finally been correctly diagnosed, at sixty-nine. Harvard is now processing her paperwork.
It is very safe to say that a large percentage of this website’s persistent readers have bipolar depression, whether they know it or not.
This enormous website is (mostly) about writing and writers.
If you are a writer, or wish you were, or are related or married to one, there is much you need to know.
Start with Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament (1990) by Kay Redfield Jamison.
Poets, novelists, and psychiatrists have high rates of suicide.
They can all tell you why.
Tennessee Williams asked his psychiatrist: “You may be able to take away my devils, but how can I be sure you won’t also take away my angels?”
I am often asked where poetry comes from. Important essays by (English) poets are “The Name and Nature of Poetry” (1933) by A.E. Housman and “A Defence of Poetry” (1840) by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Add “Psychology and Literature” by C. G. Jung, collected in Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1955). “Goethe,” Jung maintains, “did not make Faust; Faust made Goethe.”
Heavy-duty diggers should study The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) by Julian Jaynes. I have read it five times so far.
1 See Brain Drain 6-12 on website.