Creative Malady: Illness in the Lives and Minds of Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Proust, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Pickering, George. Creative Malady: Illness in the Lives and Minds of Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud, Marcel Proust, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. London: Allen and Unwin, 1974.
Pickering, a professor of medicine for 30 years, looks at six eminent Victorians to explore the premise that their physical and psychological suffering helped generate their most productive and creative work. For his chapter on Mary Baker Eddy, the sources Pickering mainly relies on are hostile and dated—even for the time of his writing in 1974: Milmine (1909), Dakin (1929), Bates and Dittemore (1932), Mark Twain (1907) and a 1930 Dictionary of American Biography. Therefore, Pickering accepts unquestioningly a portrait of Eddy as ruthless, selfish, and dishonest in never giving full credit for Christian Science to Phineas P. Quimby, a mental healer Eddy relied on for a time. Nonetheless, Pickering admires Eddy as “the most remarkable character that I have studied in this book” (205). It is the cumulative circumstances of Eddy’s desperate early struggle with ill health, widowhood, her child taken away, desertion, and poverty that turned necessity into the mother of invention. Although Pickering acknowledges the energy and creativity that came out of Eddy’s suffering, he also reduces Eddy’s maladies to a diagnosis of hysteria and does not capture the faith and character of Eddy which emerged in her role as author, founder, leader, teacher and healer.
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0195198003
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