Categorized | Depression Symptoms

Depression and the Artistic Process


I have always had an interest in the symptoms of depression and how this condition affects artists and other visionary thinkers differently than the general population. I read an interesting article this morning about President Barack Obama’s ambitious $100 million project to map the brain. This article “To Crack Human Brain’s Code, a Search for Visionaries” explores this search and motivated me go back into notes on visionary thinking I have gathered over the last few decades. Especially notes I had gathered about visionaries who also suffered from depression symptoms.

The best books for depression will usually explore the relationship between highly creative people such as artists of all types while exploring exactly what a visionary is. In my way of thinking a visionary is an individual with clarity of thought, a passion for a clearly defined experience, and foresight on how that passion may manifest. This is a very different way of thinking from the process one has who is content with just having goals? A vision often arises when a person combines a natural curiosity with a sense of deep introspection. In time this evolves into a passion so vast in scope that it can be described as nothing less than a “transcendental vision.”

You can probably recognize a visionary at the first meeting. Over time, you notice he is different than the ordinary person. In conversation he may appear particularly intense but not in a negative way. He is not the type of person inclined to banter around light cocktail party conversation or enter into a conversation about the weather. Of course this is all a generalization. Visionaries are unique unto themselves and tend to express who they are in different and often unusual ways. Because they are always unsure of what normal reality is the visionary is a focused and skilled visionary is a force of nature. What he has the ability to do is change the external landscape, enroll large groups of people into his vision, and harness as well as utilize formerly dormant resources in the service of that vision. He is able to shift opinion and impact society in ways that the most skilled futurists, economists, and influence peddlers could do effectively.

Why do visionaries need to create strategies to cope with depression? For one they do not fit in to ordinary situations. How do ordinary people respond while they hear a visionary describe his ideas? It is like conversing with any artist; it is not always easy to follow the stream of thoughts expressed by a visionary and yet you understand that something unique and interesting is being presented. Part of why this happens is because a visionary artist or highly creative person is often inclined to speak of an ideal that seems totally unrealistic. Imagine speaking to the Wright Brothers – two bicycle manufacturers – a year before they took flight on Kitty Hawk in 1903. Imagine speaking to Gandhi or the inventors of the personal computer, the telegraph, the telephone, the ballpoint pen, or robotic surgery before their visions took form.

Even if a vision seems unrealistic these visionaries continue working to bring their ideas to fruition? The perception that a vision is unrealistic does not deny the fact that there is a delight in having the intention for achieving and experiencing that ideal. Often it is the hunger, the desire, the joy and the intention that in the end bring the vision to fruition.

Now having a brilliant idea does not automatically make a person a visionary. But having an idea can open the door to the visionary process. Obviously the term visionary can mean different things to different people. I have a personal interest in the idea of conservation and balance when I study great visionaries, artists and inventors and this has to do with my interest in healing depression naturally. Being a self destructive, mad genius has a dark seductiveness to it, but I am more interested in what I like to call the balanced visionary. This is the individual who is mentally clear and emotionally balanced. Such an individual must be dedicated, feel secure within himself or herself, and feel safe with those who are committed to working with him or her to bring a vision to fruition, including partners and members of his or her support system.