Some five hundred years ago, mood disorders were considered to be based on an imbalance in four body “humors” or fluids – yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm.
Too much black bile was thought to cause ‘melancholy’ and ‘madness.’
In her article “Clinical Depression Then and Now,” Patricia Waldron, M.D. noted, “Dürer’s energy and talent clearly turned periods of depression into an exploration of the inner self, which combined with his careful observation of the external world, resulted in works such as this splendid engraving.”
She also noted, “Because it involved cogitation and introspection, the state of melancholy became associated with the creative person. The philosopher Plato first postulated the notion that melancholy often followed ‘the Divine Frenzy’ of creativity.”
Although many of us have found that creative expression can help deal with depressive feelings, a number of writers and psychologists are questioning the validity of the long history of associating depression with creativity.
Continued: Rethinking Creativity and Depression