Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Georgia O'Keeffe's hands

I recently watched the movie, Georgia O’Keeffe, in which both she and her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, suffered “nervous breakdowns” at different points in the film. Now, when was the last time you heard of someone suffering a nervous breakdown? But, in the early 1900’s it seemed to be a plague. Didn’t Zelda, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, suffer numerous bouts of this malady along with most of the rest of our nation’s glitterati. I even seem to recall that my mother had one before I was fully conscious of the world about me.

Back then, when one had a nervous breakdown, one retired to one’s boudoir to be pampered and fussed over … and to be served consommé and madolines for a few weeks until one was oneself again. I am intrigued by this apparent societal construct that has gone the way of the Ad Men four martini lunches. Were these nervous breakdowns just bouts of clinical depression … now treated with numerous pharmacologies? Or were they drug or alcohol benders … now treated by numerous Betty-Ford-type clinics? Or perhaps even just colossal self-indulgences ala Madonna. Whatever they were, they seemed to have slipped beneath the waves of our modern wired society. Too bad! No longer can we take to our bed and be spoon-fed hot tea and given toast points and be read to from Proust by our doting acolytes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

maybe they were just mid-life crises but because of social constraints, the people who had them didn't know what to do with themselves...