a first-rate madness by nassir ghaemi

uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness

“Depression makes leaders more realistic and empathic, and mania makes them more creative and resilient.” (4)

“Failure deflates illusion, while success only makes illusion worse.” (55)

“Our greatest proponents of peace were also depressive realists.” (67)

specifically, that last quote refers to gandhi and king jr. but churchill and hitler are also featured in this fascinating topic (transmitted via this interesting read). have you ever met someone who was so awesome that s/he must be a little bit mad? yea, me too.

so what does this mean for people who never seem to fail? it kind of blows my mind that i’ll be seeing beyonce and kanye within a week, and the saga of the last two mayors in this town could be extrapolated into a similar comparison. but that’s the crux, isn’t it? the comparison? we can’t really ever compare ourselves to anyone and get an accurate reading of success, because that’s completely dependant who who you roll with-if your homies are doing worse than you, you’re liable to get an inflated ego and if your homies are all ballin’ out of control, you might be feeling unnecessarily bad about yourself. but that opens up a whole can of power vs. influence (vibe magazine used to name this issue “juice” right?) worms and all the gay fish that may allow themselves to be baited…

“This collapse of the politics of radical empathy would be repeated two decades later when Martin Luther King’s nonviolence gave way to the aggressive tactics of the Black Power movement. This trend shows how hard empathy is to maintain among the mass of humanity, whose normal psychology prevents them from developing true empathy with other groups even after they have suffered themselves.” (97)

and so, politics and music ebb and flow because we don’t have that many moves as humans. and i love the ’70s and the ’90s and the nows because they’re the fight to the flight of the ’80s and the ’00s (the aughts, right?). glad we are only nearly 40% through this decade. i’m checkin’ you from the verge….

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