Shrinking Creative Genius

Goethe was one of the most creative writers, productive scientists, and effective statesmen that ever lived. From a scientific perspective, several distinctive depressive episodes can be diagnosed in Goethe’s life. 

They were characterized by;

*extended depressive moods

*lack of drive

*loss of interest and self-esteem combined with social retreat

*He lost hope because no one took the time to understand him and he lost his inspiration, not because he didn’t adhere to the conventions of society, but because (like many creative types beofre and since) those very conventions were suffocating him.

Goethe displayed:

*diffuse and phobic anxieties

*dysthymia: (a persistent mild depression)

His self-therapeutic strategies were

*the systematic use of helping alliances

*behavioral techniques

*cognitive reflection on meanings and beliefs

*psychodynamic and psychoanalytic remembering

*repeating, and working through existential striving for self-actualization

*social commitment



*He was able to self-manage and self-actualize on his own as he had insights into the fundamental nature of humans, life, nature and consequently himself. The labeling of Goethe, or any other very creative type, is common by those who cannot see what he saw. Had Goethe acquiesced his spirit to the conventional wisdom of the 18th century, we may still be caught up in those very banal and meaningless conventions that he helped to expose.

Reference: Goethe’s Anxieties, Depressive Episodes and (Self-)Therapeutic Strategies: A Contribution to Method Integration in Psychotherapy, Journal of Psychopathology Vol. 46, No. 4, 2013

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