You are here

Seizing the Darkness: An essay on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Bipolar Disorder

2017 High School Essay Contest first place essay by Angela Li

As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “One must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star.” Considered to be Germany’s greatest literary mind of the modern era, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe certainly was a whirlwind of chaotic creativity. With such a profound influence that he is known as the Shakespeare of Germany, critics and readers around the world have wondered about where his genius stemmed from. Although difficult to pinpoint the exact formula for his scale of success, one of the great factors that contributed to his ability to convey such raw emotion and captivate his audience was in fact his bipolar disorder. It is an unfortunate reality that many of the millions around the world with bipolar disorder are relegated to the shadows, as the stigma around their illness sweeps away their faith in themselves. When they are often labelled as weak, incapable or fragile by damaging societal stereotypes, it can difficult for those affected to reconcile with their disorder. While the disorder may severely affect one’s ability to lead a healthy and fulfilling life, an incontrovertible and important truth is that it certainly does not put a limit on their capacity for success. This is best shown by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s literary genius, whose emotional turmoil caused by his bipolar disorder stirred up an invaluable source of inspiration and motivation to explore artistic endeavors. Goethe was not only a German poet, playwright, novelist and theatre director but also a scientist, statesman and artist who has been revered for his brilliant comprehension of human nature, optimistic faith in the human spirit and his writing about universal truths and agonies. Many of his works have been the face of the Romantic movement such as his play Faust, Europe’s greatest long poem since John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Yet it was not always a smooth path to success for Goethe, who had spent much of his life in the dark. Since the age of fourteen, he suffered from severe depressive and manic episodes, characteristic of bipolar II disorder. Because he lived during the 18th century, mental illnesses were poorly understood and there were few treatments, thus making his struggles with bipolar disorder even more difficult. As a result, he often isolated himself and was dragged down by waves of suicidal thoughts. However, it was the intensity of his emotions that fuelled many of his greatest pieces. For instance, in 1774, he published his first novel called the Sorrows of Young Werther, a seminal piece in literature on depression and mood incongruent delusions which became instantly successful and was even lauded by Napoleon Bonaparte. In writing these pieces he was not only able to reach out to many individuals in similar situations but was also able to expel many of his darkest suicidal thoughts and cope with his agonizing episodes. After one of his most severe depressive episodes, he spent months crafting his monumentally tragic play Faust, which would later play an essential role in the creation of depth psychology. In the face of such immense suffering, Goethe’s triumph in the battle against his own mind is remarkable but he is not alone. Author Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins University has shown that artists and writers are disproportionately more likely to be depressed, suicidal or manic and that there is a correlation between bipolar disorders and artistic temperaments, hence, the term "poet's melancholy.” During the initial stages of hypomania, individuals tend to have increased energy and productivity and having personally been affected by the disorder, they have greater insight on human suffering that allows them to express themselves in ways others simply cannot. Having bipolar disorder can be described as having dark, wispy clouds looming over one’s head. It can linger with you and be agonizing; it can be frustrating and isolating. However, many such as Goethe are able to seize the darkness and channel it into creative endeavors that become the silver lining of it all. As awareness around bipolar disorder increases and the stigma surrounding it is shattered, it is hoped that light will be shed on the vast potential and creativity that resides within those with bipolar disorder. After all, it is within that darkness that Friedrich Nietzsche’s described “dancing stars” are born. 


I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

This piece of writing offers clear idea designed for the
new visitors of blogging, that in fact how to do running a blog.

Have a look at my site: -

Hi, I desire to subscribe for this weblog to get newest updates,
so where can i do it please help out.

Feel free tto visit my blog ... terapia por ondsa de choque -

Amazing! Its truly remarkable paragraph, I have got much clear idea on the topic
of from this paragraph.

Look into my web page :: weight loss tips -

I think the admin of this website is actually working hard in support of his website, since here every information is quality based material.

My brother suggested I may like this website. He was once totallyy right.
This submit truly made my day. You can not imzgine just how much time I had
spent click here to visit Eduugains for
free - this information! Thank you!

I wаs recommended this blog by my cousin.
I'm not sure whether this post is wгitten by him as no one else know such detailed
about my trߋuble. You are amɑzing! Thanks!

Look intο my site - ԁownload aplikasi ѕ128 -

I see you don't monetize, don't waste your traffic, you can earn additional cash every month with new monetization method.
This is the best adsense alternative for any type of website (they approve all sites), for
more details simply search in gooogle: murgrabia's tools

Feel free to surf to my homepage; BestMiquel -

I’m going to be putting on a live stream event about bipolar disorder and creativity and would like to use this poem for it. How would I be able to speak with author?

Can I just say what a relkief to uncovr a person that genuinely knows what they are discussing over the internet.

You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
A lot more people must look at this and understand this
side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular because you certainly
have the gift.

Stop by my web page - Reynaldo -

Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on. Any recommendations?

Feel free to surf to mmy website ... dancehall -

Ahaa, its good dialogue regarding this post at this place at this website, I have read all that, soo now me also commenting at this place.

Feel free to visit my blog post :: best affiliate protram -

Will observe these pointers next time.

Here is my web-site: 우리카지노 -

Hey there would you mind letting me know which web host you're
working with? I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different web
browsers and I must say this blog loads
a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a fair price?
Many thanks, I appreciate it!

Also visit my webpage - Akun id pro -

This is so inspiring, so many props to you.

Hello, Neat post. There's a problem together with yokur
web site in internet explorer, could test
this? IE still is the marketplae chief annd a huge component of
other people will omit your excellent writing due to this

My weblog Reviiews over At Sbtoc Org -

Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be oon the net the easiest thing to
be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people
think about worries that they just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top
and defined out the whole thing without having
side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.

Review my web-site: affiliate marketing programs -

The identical applies for mortgage commercial leads and stuff like that, so continue with extreme vigilance. Blame all of this discussion on Nicholas Carr's article "IT Doesn't Matter Any More" in the Harvard Business Review back in 2003 in which he noticed that IT resources and knowledge have become an investment so no long lasting advantage can be furnished by them. A belief borne possibly of technological superstition and our underlying nervous about technology.

Truly no matter if someone doesn't know afterward
its up to other users that they will assist, so here it takes place.

Take a look at my website ... Gia xe toyota Camry 2020
khuyen mai tra gop bao nhieu -

Add new comment