Thursday, January 22, 2009

Something for you to read, part 13

Check out this engrossing and well-written article from the Atlantic a few years back about Lincoln and his bouts of depression, and how it affected his work ethic and worldview. The author gets on his soapbox a little at times, not-very-subtly railing against the medicalization of depression, but other than that it is fine.


Bridget Callahan said...

okay, here's my un-pc thing for the night, that's not really un-pc but fat chance explaining it correctly to someone who doesn't know me:

I am not arguing that depression isn't a medical condition, that can be helpfully alleviated by drugs that alter your brain's chemistry. Emotions are just alterations in your brains chemistry anyway, so why wouldn't drugs work?

But I also think that people become depressed for good reason. 90% of modern life, on a micro and macro level, is a great reason to want to kill yourself, or at the very least give up out of futility. And if that's the case for life now, god, think of Lincoln's life. Everyone dying young, everyone in pain for untreated medical conditions all the time, being cold and in the dark for a large part of your life.

Depression, to me, seems like a very logical reaction to the stimuli around you. Not being depressed takes effort, and the smarter you are, the more effort it takes.

So, since Lincoln was very smart, it only makes sense that he would be extremely melancholy at times. Look at his life, even before the whole WAR thing. It was terrible.

It makes me wonder if the only reason that depression diagnosises (I do not know how to spell that plural, sorry) keep increasing is that now we expect people to distract themselves easily with money, and therefore you're even more of a freak of nature if you can't break your sadness with some shoes and an ipod. Maybe there's something to the idea that we need to be tougher like our forefathers, and learn to function despite our overwhelming motivation not to.

Of course, maybe there's nothing wrong with using pills to make us happier too.

I have no idea if this rant made sense. It was a good article though.

Bridget Callahan said...

oh my god, that was so long. I'm sorry.

CB said...

Good point. But also consider this - back then everyone was cold, everyone suffering, everyone in the dark most of the time, and while not everyone was brilliant like Lincoln, there were still a bunch of brilliant people around. But even to them, all stuck in the same generally shitty life, they thought Lincoln was waaaaay depressed.

CB said...

And your comment was not nearly as offensive as I had my hopes up for it to be after reading your first paragraph!

Bridget Callahan said...

Sorry to disappoint...maybe I'm just so naturally pc, it's offensive in and of itself...