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Churchill, Winston - The useful bite of the black dog



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Matt Haig - Reasons to stay alive  

Winston Churchill lived with the 'black dog' for much of his life. Watching a fire, he once remarked to a young researcher he was employing: 'I know why logs spit. I know what it is to be consumed.'

Indeed he did. He was - in terms of career achievements - one of the most active men who ever lived. Yet he continually felt despondent and full of darkness.  The political philosopher John Gray ….believes Churchill didn't 'overcome' depression to become a good war leader, rather that the experience of depression directly enabled him to be one.

Gray argues, in an article for the BBC, that it was Churchill's 'exceptional openness' to intense emotion that explains how he was able to sense dangers that more conventional minds failed to see. 'For most of the politicians and opinion-makers who wanted to appease Hitler, the Nazis were not much more than a raucous expression of German nationalism,' writes Gray. It needed an unusual mind to address an unusual threat. 'He owed his foresight of the horror that was to come to visits of the black dog.'

So, yes, depression is a nightmare. But can it also be a useful one? Can it be one that improves the world in various ways?

The source of the experience

Churchill, Winston

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Premature birth