Not many would be familiar with the term ‘Depressive Realism’ or about the Depressive Realists. It is generally accepted without question that people going through depression tend to think or view their lives negatively which leads to recurrent negative automatic thoughts, maladaptive behaviors, and dysfunctional world beliefs. Later, some psychologists like Alloy and Abramson found exceptions in the pattern and observed that some depressive individuals judge the outcome of situations more accurately than the non-depressive people who view life with rose tinted glasses.
Some famous people have exhibited great depressive realism with more realistic perception of the role they play in the world, accurate assessment of their abilities and also knowledge of their limitations. Even though they have faced the challenge of depression, they have come out of it with flying colors. Here is the list of 6 famous people who have been through depression and showed the world a phenomenon commonly known as ‘depressive realism’.
No one can make you laugh out loud like Jim Carrey does; but, was life full of laughter for the master comedian? Jim Carrey had a tough childhood where he had to deal with an ailing mother and unemployed father. The situation led him to drop out of school to support his family. Jim Carrey credits his inner desperation to be the inspiration for his humor. It took him some time to realize that life was beautiful and he did not need the medications to deal with depression.
J.K. Rowling went through terrible period when she was creating Harry Potter, the series that later went on to gain worldwide attention, win multiple awards, and sell more than 400 million copies. Rowling has confessed to being depressed and also contemplating suicide following her mother’s death, breaking of her first marriage and struggle as a single mother before becoming successful. Her mother’s death deeply affected Rowling’s writing and she introduced much more detail about Harry’s loss in the first book because of her own experience. It is amazing to note that it was in the darkest days of her life that Rowling came out with what later became a multi-billion-dollar franchise.
Biographer Joshua Wolf Shenk in his work – Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness – has spoken about the depressive breakdowns Abraham Lincoln went through which included suicidal statements made by him. The famous president is known to have used humor as an antidote to depression and also used it as a microscope to analyze the world around him. He also had a strong belief that his life had an important purpose and he was to leave an inedible imprint on the history of world.
No one understands depression more than the people who have been there. Eminent clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison has had the view of depression and bipolar disorder as a patient and a clinician. In her classic book – An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness – she gives us a glimpse into depressive realism through her observation, “tumultuousness, if coupled with discipline and a cool mind, is not such a bad sort of thing. That unless one wants to live a stunningly boring life, one ought to be on good terms with one’s darker side and one’s darker energies” and “Depression is awful beyond words or sounds or images…it bleeds relationships through suspicion, lack of confidence and self-respect, the inability to enjoy life, to walk or talk or think normally, the exhaustion, the night terrors, the day terrors. There is nothing good to be said for it except that it gives you the experience of how it must be to be old, to be old and sick, to be dying; to be slow of mind; to be lacking in grace, polish and coordination; to be ugly; to have no belief in the possibilities of life, the pleasures of sex, the exquisiteness of music or the ability to make yourself and others laugh.”
Many critics all over the world regard the German author Franz Kafka as the most influential authors of 20th century. The brilliant writer is known to have suffered from depression and social anxiety throughout his life. He was also reported to be a hypochondriac. Franz Kafka came up with brilliant ideas when he going through depression. He made his writing to become an antidote for his depression and thus influenced genres such as existentialism through his writings.
If you have heard the word psychology, it is very likely that you have heard about Sigmund Freud as well. Known as the ‘Father of Psychoanalysis’, it is shocking to know that this genius of a man suffered from periodic depression, apathy and anxiety attacks. It is known that he initially took refuge in cocaine to find relief though he later discovered the dangers in using it. He viewed human behavior without hiding behind the norms and shocked the world with his revelations.