When the gods dance...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Weariness of the Self

The Weariness of the Self

Depression is the guardrail of the person with no road map.

Versace Ad/NYT Style Magazine/Winter 2010

In the 16th century, melancholia was the elective illness of the exceptional man, of he who had nothing above him. During the Romantic period, it stood at the crossroads of creative genius and madness. Today, it is the situation of every individual in Western society.

Depression is a pathology of time (the depressed person has no future) and a pathology of motivation (the depressed person has no energy, his movement is slowed, his words slurred). The depressed person has trouble forming projects; he or she lacks energy and the minimum motivation to carry them out. Inhibited, impulsive or compulsive, she has trouble communicating with herself and others. With no project, motivation or communication, the depressed person stands in exact opposition to our social norms.

Depression and addiction are names given to the uncontrollable, which we encounter when we stop talking about winning our freedom and start working on becoming ourselves and taking the initiative for action. They remind us that the unknown is part of every person – and that it always has been. It can change but never disappear: that is why we never leave the human realm. That is depression’s lesson.

Alain Ehrenberg, from The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

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