Saturday, October 31, 2009

Depression and Despair (not the Halloween sort)

Lovely title for a blog post, no? But I was struck by an article written about the philosopher Kierkegaard, someone I studied long ago in college but to whom I've given little thought over the last couple of decades. This article, though, makes me want to pull out my Fear and Trembling and get all carried away, again.

Here's a tidbit:

There is abundant chatter today about “being spiritual” but scarcely anyone believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit. Nor can we fathom the idea that the happy wanderer, who is all smiles and has accomplished everything on his or her self-fulfillment list, is, in fact, a case of despair. But while Kierkegaard would have agreed that happiness and melancholy are mutually exclusive, he warns, “Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”

Click HERE to read.


  1. "Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”
    --What an observation! I feel the moments of despair,uncertainty nuance, and shadow are just as spiritual as those of pure bliss.

  2. You may already know this, but Kathleen Norris (Dakota, Cloister Walk) wrote a memoir called "Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life" which addresses the topic of spiritual despair, or acedia. Kirkegaard, who also uses the term, would have liked it, I think.

  3. That's funny, all weekend I've been thinking I felt what I call "happy-sad."

  4. yeah - and joy is definitely not the same thing as happiness. I'd pick joy any day. And there's no drug for joy!

  5. Interesting that the NYTimes piece is written by a philosophy prof/boxing coach.....

  6. I hated Halloween when my kids were small. It was a gruesome experience trekking through Echo Park under the influence of a friend who assured me it all "all in fun." I was such a weakling, I went along with it. I gave out toothbrushes one year. Okay. They were pretty. They glowed in the dark.

  7. I agree with Chris Tea and Autism Mom Rising.

    I've been feeling like this. Looking around me and seeing only certain places for despair and surrounded by all that should make me happy...yet sad.

  8. great concept. what is real joy, and what is aversion to pain? When are we feeling happy, and when are we grasping at being happy just to keep the blues away? If we sink into the blues, does that mean we're not joyful? All questions I ponder often.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog. It's good to "meet" you.

  9. That's a great read--thank you. Also interesting in light of "the Spirit Catches You...". Really thought provoking in a lot of ways. Posting it to facebook, where it will be ignored - lol.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...