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Are depressed writers better writers?

  1. Aug 11, 2004 #1
    Does agony expand ones natural ability to write creatively? If so, does the availabiltiy and frequency nowadays of prescribing medications for mild to moderate mental disorders supress the natural talent of a writer?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2004 #2
    I do believe it can enhance creativity.. look at the person who wrote the "evangelion" tv series - he had a mental breakdown while he wrote it, and it shows !
  4. Aug 12, 2004 #3


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    I don't think it's necessarily the case. Depression just leads to depressing stories. I think developing a good story, including a credible plot, good character development, adding some good surprise twists, etc, requires the sort of focus someone who is depressed probably won't be able to apply to their work.

    While I don't think it's the treatment of depression that hinders creativity, I suppose there could be other side-effects of anti-depressants that would hinder such creativity. These medications target fairly common neurotransmitter systems, so they don't just affect the cells of the brain responsible for the undesired symptoms, but also ones for other normal functions, so you could treat one symptom and create a new problem.
  5. Aug 12, 2004 #4
    My high school english teacher, who was actually quite a literary scholar, had an interesting theory about depressed writers. Its kind of obvious in retrospect, but still, she said that these writers, she called them artists, these artists were so different from normal people in such a way as to become great writers, and they were so different as to be able to convey such great ideas so poetically and/or creatively that this separated them so much from most of humanity that they couldn't help but become depressed. She pretty much said depression was a side effect of being a great artist, not that being depressed made you a great artist.
  6. Aug 13, 2004 #5
    Oh yeah I definitely believe in that. I wrote an essay that conveys a similar idea. But nowadays, we have meds to treat these disorders. Does this effect the quality of writing? Also meds are prescribed so readily that many of these people may probably be able to alleviate their symptoms through writing or other creative/ intellectual outlets. Different meds may help or hurt ones ability to write. A given med may help a person concentrate, yet it may also hinder his creativity.
  7. Aug 18, 2004 #6
    I suppose a depressed writer is more likely to perseverate on any given subject, to ruminate on it and get to know it well in the process, and also to perseverate on the act of writing itself, which might lead to getting good at it, such that it may seem, superficially, that depression leads to good writing. The fact is, though, most successful writers are not depressed, or mentally or neurologically hindered in any important way. The other fact is most depressed people, clinically depressed, don't have the energy or motivation to do any sustained or well-crafted or creative writing. Most depressed people do precious little of anything.

    I agree with Moonbear that the writing of depressed people who manage to write well is mostly depressing stuff to read.
    Creativity really flourishes in a more upbeat mind.
  8. Sep 25, 2004 #7
    I have always wondered if there was something to a good writer. All of the good writers I know are a little different -- not in a bad way. Sometimes they tend to have alcohol problems, depression problems or a completely different outlook on life that is rather appealing to the readers.
  9. Oct 10, 2004 #8
    Creativity did not associate with depression, but with bipolar disease, mainly in its maniac phase.
  10. Oct 10, 2004 #9


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    This all depends on what you decide is a "good" writer or a "creative" writer. I just saw a review which compared Philip Roth to Harry Turtledove, much to Roth's disadvantage. Now Roth has won just about all the US literary prizes and is famous in literary circles, while Turtledove is a very popular and skillful genre writer(and just about my favorite author). So who is in the set of good and creative writers that you want to test for psychological problems?
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