27 April 2010

Simon & Depression

Bryan Caplan has a post a couple of days ago about Julian Simon's experience with depression.  A lot of it echoes with me.  You all are commended to read it.  Here is the conclusion:
Overall, though, Simon's personal odyssey boosts my already vast admiration for him. Most depressives accomplish little other than spreading their misery to the people around them. Simon, in contrast, was an incredibly creative and productive scholar despite his inner sorrow. For much of his life, he didn't feel much of the good in the world, but he saw it - and helped many others see it as well. When he saw a chance to help others overcome the same demons he'd faced, he took it. What a guy. I never met you, Julian, but I miss you.
"Despite" — or perhaps because of?  Some proportion of depressives are able to channel their depression into increased productivity, retreating into their work, like Simon appears to have. (I have been able to only in certain periods of my life. Most of the time it has been a disaster for my productivity when untreated.) I am sure numbers and studies exist for this effect, but I have not seen them. I imagine this is a small subset of the depressed population, but I would like to know more.

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