Phenomenology of genius and psychopathology
Doerr-Zegers O.
University of Chile, Santiago.
Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi 2003;105(3):277-86


The relationship between genius and madness has been a subject of interest since the beginning of critical and philosophical thinking. Thus, Aristotle, in the Book XXX of the Problemata, asks himself "why are all extraordinary men in the fields of philosophy, politics, poetry and art melancholic?, adding afterwards: "...and some of them in such a way that they may suffer from pathologic manifestations whose origin is in the black bile". In the past decades the German author Tellenbach studied the personalities of several geniuses, both from fiction, such as Hamlet, and from reality, such as the writer von Kleist, concluding that they suffered from a specific form of depression that he called "Schwermut" (melancholy), which was supposedly different from the narrowly defined illness of depression. Other work done on this subject is the extensive study by the North American author Kay Jamison, who, after researching the biography and the tree of a long list of writers, composers and musicians, concluded that all of them had suffered to some degree from a bipolar disorder. This author strives to carry out a phenomenology of genius, and he finds that, together with other essential features, the geniuses always show forms of experiencing and/or of behaving which do not fall within the range that is considered normal, although they can not always be classified as pathological. His study is based on the analysis of the life and the work of three men whose genius could not be doubted: the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, the philosopher Soeren Kierkegaard and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. This author specially focuses on the last named, since in his later work he explicitly meditated on the suffering that has meant for him his condition of genius and what he considered the only way to overcome them: to be faithful to the work of art, whose fulfilment was imposed on him--to a certain degree from the endogenous--as an unavoidable imperative.
Mania: medications
Chronic depression
Psychotic depression
Melancholia and SSRIs
The depressive spectrum
Melancholia and bipolar depression
Manic thinking, happiness and depression
Relationship of major depressive disorder to bipolar disorder

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