Janet Riehl: Eric, what I hear you saying is that when creative people in particular maintain a connection to their mission or purpose (you call it a Life Purpose Statement in “Van Gogh Blues”), a connection to the value of their work, and their own value as creative people in the culture, they will be stronger in their work and in their lives. Is that a fair way to put it?
Eric Maisel: Yes. Even before you can make meaning, you must nominate yourself as the meaning-maker in your own life and fashion a central connection with yourself, one that is more aware, active, and purposeful than the connection most people fashion with themselves.
Having some ideas about purpose is not the same as standing in relationship to yourself in such a way that you turn your ideas about purpose into concrete actions.
Self-connection — understanding that you are your own advocate, taskmaster, coach, best friend, and sole arbiter of meaning and that no one else can or will serve those functions for you — is crucial.
I have come to believe the depression that we see in creative people is best conceptualized as existential depression, rather than as biological, psychological, or social depression.
This means that the treatment has to be existential in nature. You can medicate a depressed artist, but you probably aren’t really getting at what was bothering her, namely that the meaning had leaked out of her life and that, as a result, she was just going through the motions, paralyzed by her meaning crisis.
Complete interview [on this site, TalentDevelop]: Eric Maisel’s “Van Gogh Blues” Explores Connection and Meaning-making as Treatments for Depression.
[Also see the interview on riehlife.com.]
Also see more posts on the Depression and Creativity site.
Originally posted 2008-02-02 18:09:55.