Follow-Up on My Maddow Article

I first heard about Rachel Maddow’s depression through small blurbs, well before the complete article came out. I wrote a very smart-ass but heart-felt response published by Role Reboot in which I discussed the link between depression and liberalism.

I have gotten so many responses from liberals thanking me for opening a conversation about how “being a feminist or any kind of advocate for social justice is exhausting and demoralizing.”

There have also been readers who have pointed out that there is a big difference between clinical depression and liberal disillusionment. Let me say that they are absolutely right. And I really worried about that as I wrote this piece. In fact,  I wanted to put in disclaimer/note saying that clinical depression is not a political disorder as one blogger has put it so well. At the time I wrote this, however, we had only snippets of Maddow’s interview, and in those she had not claimed a mental illness. I did not want to give her that label if it were not one she was willing to accept.

I too suffer from clinical depression, and so I also considered trying to write an acknowledgement of that and of the clinical nature of depression into the article. But as a commenter on Role Reboot said, that really is a very different subject, and I believe one that deserves its own article which I promise to write soon.

But I also wanted to talk about the very real problem we have in liberalism: that it is highly linked to depression and generalized unhappiness. (PBS has a fascinating interview about it online here.) Most of the studies I have read seem to support what I have said in the article: that liberals are more prone to unhappiness and depression because they see the world as it truly is: full of inequality and suffering. However, I did read one article which suggested the opposite causal direction: that depressed people are more attracted to liberalism.

Even if it turns out that we are all clinically depressed and just happen to be liberals at the same time, the mutual support will be beneficial.

Note: In answer to a request, here are links that talk about happiness and liberals:

This has some of the more reader-friendly information: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb…

Here is another synthesis of literature: http://www.livescience.com/748…

Here is one of the studies that is available without a subscription to an academic journal service: http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/d…