Sadness is Good for You?

Telegraph UK
Sadness is good for you, scientists say
Sadness is good for the health because it helps people change their lives for the better, a study claims.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent

Scientists have warned that growing tendency to medicate against sadness like a disease stops us embracing our miserable side and removes the motivation to mature emotionally. Like the saying "what does not kill me, makes me stronger", being sad and melancholic can leave sufferers better able to cope with life's challenges, more resilient and spur them to greater achievements, it is claimed. The researchers point out that today's society prizes personal happiness above all else and there is little tolerance for wallowing in despair after losing a job, the break-up of a relationship or the death of a loved one.

But a growing number of mental health experts fear the increasing tendency to take a pill to beat the blues could actually affect human evolution.Far from the disorder being a modern malaise, humans have suffered from depression for thousands of years - and it has survived partly because it is beneficial to the species in the long-term, they claim.....


The New Scientist

Is it bad to be sad?

14 January 2009 by Jessica Marshall

"When you find something this deeply in us biologically, you presume that it was selected because it had some advantage, otherwise we wouldn't have been burdened with it," says Jerome Wakefield, a clinical social worker at New York University and co-author of The Loss of Sadness: How psychiatry transformed normal sorrow into depressive disorder (with Allan Horwitz, Oxford University Press, 2007). "We're fooling around with part of our biological make-up."......

Then there is the notion that creativity is connected to dark moods. There is no shortage of great artists, writers and musicians who have suffered from depression or bipolar disorder. It would be difficult to find enough recognised geniuses to test the idea in a large, controlled study, but more run-of-the-mill creativity does seem to be associated with mood disorders. Modupe Akinola and Wendy Berry Mendes of Harvard University found that people with signs of depression performed better at a creative task, especially after receiving feedback that was designed to reinforce their low mood. The researchers suggest that such negative feedback makes people ruminate on the unhappy experience, which allows subconscious creative processes to come to the fore, or that it pushes depression-prone people to work harder to avoid feeling bad in the future (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 34, p 1677)............

Whether or not a little sadness is useful, everyone agrees that clinical depression is not. Unfortunately it's not clear exactly where to draw the line between the two (see "Sad or depressed?"). So which is more dangerous: to over-medicate normal sadness, a feeling which may lead us to re-evaluate our lives after the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or under-medicate clinical depression?......more

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Vikram Madan said...

Very interesting article.

"Then there is the notion that creativity is connected to dark moods. "

I have some comments on this one.

I consider Eckhart Tolle to be a genius, who has the ability to explain even the most difficult of concepts in a simple manner. Plus the man contradicts himself rarely, even when he is giving a spontaneous lecture. (This is also requires genius, if you ask me!)

And Eckhart Tolle is absolutely comfortable with himself. He can sit silently, not speaking a word, *his eyes OPEN, looking straight at the audience*, in front of a thousand people, for four-five minutes (I've timed him!) and *NOT* get nervous, tense. This in itself is proof that his mind is free of negativity.
On the other hand, there is George Michael. Riddled with sorrow, depression, addictions. Extremely creative. A genius. Or so I feel. George Michael can perform in front of 10,000 people without problems, but I am absolutely sure that if he was made to sit in front of a group of people, not doing anything, not saying anything, with his eyes open, he would go dizzy in a minute and walk away.

Tolle and George Michael's emotional worlds are poles apart. But both are very admirable people. Geniuses.

I do agree that sorrow has its place in a human's evolution. A very special place.

But like Eckhart Tolle says...


"The last leg to enlightment begins when you genuinely develop the desire to give up suffering. Most people do not want to give up suffering. And Enlightenment is a state of no suffering. "

md said...

george michael and a myriad of other artists are tortured and simultaneously inspired by their shadow...suffering is an endless well of creativity.....tolle represents the integrated shadow, and I would luv to see him paint!