Bipolar, melancholy and creativity

The relation between creativity and bipolar disorder is subject of empirical research. This evidence based approach can however not easily be used for earlier centuries. This site focusses on a complimentary philosophical, historical and literary/artistic approach. The term bipolar disorder was coined in the 20th century, following on 'manic-depressive' disorder at the turn thereof. In the centuries before the term 'melancholy' was generally used as a medical concept for bipolar mood swing.

Melancholy in Classic and Biblical Literature

Ajax killed by his own sword The tormented David by Bernini Genius tormented by moodswing is explored here for both our classical and biblical traditions. Sheperd king David figures side by side with Ajax and Hercules. Wording might differ but the issues are similar, reminiscent of what today is called manic-depression or bipolar disorder. Read more ....

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Diagnosing Vincent van Gogh

In his letters Vincent van Gogh complained time and again - from his early years to just before his tragic death - of 'melancholy' then a medical term for serious depression alternated by high mood. Vincent discussed this illness with other fellow sufferers, including his close family. His last Docter, Gachet, had written a thesis on melancholy, and was according to the painter, a fello sufferer. ............................................................................ ....

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The Melancholy Pose

Rodin's Thinker with his back to van Gogh's Dr Gachet, both depicted in the melancholy pose. Rodin stares downwards into hel. Dr Gachet was considered by Vincent to be at least as melancholic as he and his brother Theo were. marliesterborg@gmail.com ....

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Aristotle Problemeta xxx.i

Aristotle's famous essay on melancholy is difficult to access. It's official rather obscure name is Problemata xxx.i. It forms a chapter in a rather outdated compilation of essays. To enance accesibility of this important and highly relevant essay it is downloadable as a stand alone from this site. It is also available in print. ....

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Aristotle ON MELANCHOLY

left: Ajax preparing for suicide - right: Manic Hercules by Antonio Canova Aristotle's essay ON MELANCHOLY begins with the famous question: 'Why do all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts turn out to be melancholics ?' Aristotle describes the two poles of melancholy, which can become very hot and very cold. He warns talented and sensitive persons. 'If they are not careful, they can become extremely melancholic.' Extreme mood can lead to tragedy. Aristotle mentions the hero Ajax whose life ended in suicide. He points to Hercules, who murdered his own family in a bout of mania. The Greek philosopher urges talented persons to avoid extremes, if need be with medicine. 'If their melaina cholè is tempered, they are men of genius.' It is in the mildly elated mood, today known as hypomania, that creativity gets a chance. This classic essay on creativity and mood is surprisingly relevant today. With the explanations by philosopher Marlies ter Borg the staccato comments by Aristotle gain in depth and meaning. Download below! - also available in paperback USA - UK or EUROPE ....

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