Thursday, October 27, 2005

The melancholic Abe Lincoln!

Here is an excerpt from the book Lincoln's melancholy: How depression challenged a President and fuelled his greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk. It has some interesting thoughts:
Yet Lincoln's case is perfect, too, in a very different sense: it forces us to reckon with the limits of diagnostic categories and raises fundamental questions about the nature of illness and health.
"It's not the large things that send a man to the madhouse," Charles Bukowski has written. "No, it's the continuing series of small tragedies . . . a shoelace that snaps, with no time left."
And, finally,
For example, in males, schizophrenia usually surfaces in the late teenage years; manic depression in the late teens to early twenties. Unipolar depression, which Lincoln would struggle with his whole life, typically breaks into the open in the mid- to late twenties. Lincoln was twenty-six.
All these reminded me of that other great book "An anthropologist on Mars" by Oliver Sacks, which, I read recently, and, which, in my opinion is a must read for anybody interested in the workings of the human brain.

By the way, the NPR books site is a good place to drop by; you get to read lots of excerpts from lots of interesting books.

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