THE debate on depression and creative ingenuity has protracted in these pages. The latest letter by Sajjad H. Channar (Nov 30), though being a brilliant discourse, has abstracted the discussion into an esoteric academic issue of no interest to the general average readership.
The question whether depression — bipolar or unipolar — is casually linked with creativity apparently does not bear current social relevance.
A reality check is needed. The point I would like to highlight is that in our society persons, endowed with sense and sensibilities, are prone to suffer psychological, mental and temperamental disorders, such as depression, frustration, anxiety, apathy and fear, in varying degrees of intensity.
Obviously these afflictions are results of economic woes, injustice, terrorism, violence, street crimes, sense of insecurity and political instability prevailing in the country. This doom and gloom scenario breeds and nurtures aggressive behaviour patterns, violent tendencies and ill temperaments in individuals and society at large to such an extent that even our middle class intelligentsia is rapidly losing its traditional spirit of wit and wisdom, tolerance, good humour, enlightenment and radical approach and even civic sense (daily traffic chaos bears this out), indeed under the formidable existential stress and angst.
More and more people take refuge under religious and ritualistic devotion to fight off despondency to have spiritual/psychological equanimity. But unfortunately some, mostly belonging to the lower middle class, are chipped off to extremist, sectarian and militant factions and groups.
Nonetheless, unintended consequences of this social phenomenon regresses the thought process, conscious objective analysis and inquiry and also extinguishes a quest for truth and change.
So, not only science and arts suffer in this way, but also hardened attitudes, intolerance and self-righteousness are being fostered. Here I may digress a bit to the view point of S. Qadri who (letter, Nov 29) has stated: “We must have the freedom of pursuing the arts and science, but these should be in accord with our own culture and ethos, rather than the western ones”.
I feel that science and arts have their own independent set of rules, norms and paradigms. Both of the human activities quest for truth and beauty are universal in nature and not confined to the East or the West.
In simpler terms, depression and other disorders are by and large rooted in socio-economic distortions. It is necessary to restore at least a semblance of good governance, rule of law, dispensation of justice, poverty alleviation and promotion of science and arts.
This is the only essential cure to dispel the prevailing morbid fog of doom and gloom engulfing the hapless and helpless masses of our country.