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December 2014



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Leo Tolstoy.


War and Peace and Anna Karenina are still considered masterpieces of Russian Literature. Tolstoy wrote a book exploring his own tendency toward depression called A Confession.


As he reached middle age, his depression seemed to worsen. He became overly concerned with his success, and started giving his personal possessions away. Later, he was critical of himself for not having the courage to commit suicide.


Ernest Hemmingway.


Hemmingway is known as a brilliant Nobel Prize winning author, (The Old Man and the Sea). He’s said to have suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, had borderline and narcissistic personality traits, and later suffered with psychosis.  Instead of approaching doctors for help, Hemmingway infamously self-medicated with alcohol.


His manic side was evidenced by some of his high-risk behaviors, such as in deep-sea fishing,  shooting animals in the wild, and dodging bullets as a war correspondent.  His family tree was populated with relatives suffering from depression, many of whom committed suicide.  He killed himself with a shotgun in 1961.


Philip K. Dick.


Dick is perhaps the most visionary sc-fi writer of the last century.  His works are the most adapted sci-fi classics in recent film history.  Movies like Blade Runner, The Minority Report and Total Recall are just three of dozens of ingenious stories adapted from novels and short stories he wrote.


As a teenager, Dick was plagued by vertigo.  As he grew, there were signs of schizophrenia, including eventually, visual and auditory hallucinations.  He was hospitalized, but somehow managed to keep writing. At one point he felt there was a beam of “pink light” being transmitted directly into his consciousness.


Franz Kafka


Kafka wrote in a completely original style exploring existential ideas about life.  The Trial and Metamorphosis are two of his better known stories.  Kafka was a loner, a genius, who suffered from social anxiety and depression.  He worked in obscurity at an insurance company in Prague, where he noticed that life was bound by pointless bureaucracy.


It’s thought his depression came from having only a handful of his works published during his lifetime.  He also suffered from migraines, boils and insomnia brought on by the stress of working so hard at writing with so little to show for it.


Sylvia Plath. 


Death was a recurrent theme in Plath’s poems.  Sometimes death meant “death and rebirth” to her, sometimes she wrote about “death as an end.”  Her poems have titles like Stillborn, and Two Views of a Cadaver Room.


Plath was known among her colleagues for significant mood swings, along with impulse control issues.  While still in college, she attempted suicide several times.  In 1963 she committed suicide by placing her head inside an oven.


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