Friday, July 17, 2009

Late bloomers

I read an interesting Huffington Post blog entry by Lloyd Sederer, a psychiatrist in NYC. His post referenced an article written by Malcom Gladwell in the New Yorker last fall called "Late Bloomers," where Gladwell discussed the idea of genius and precocity based on a Chicago economist named David Galenson. Galenson theorized that creativity among literary poets could have success at a later age in life versus peaking early and petering or burning out as his colleagues suggested.. Indeed, Galenson found this to be true. In both writing and in film, he found examples like Robert Frost, Daniel Defoe, Mark Twain, Alfred Hitchcock, and a number of others who would have all been considered late bloomers.

Galenson used Cezanne as a prime example for his thoughts about the success of late bloomers. He felt that late bloomers simply bloomed late, because they just weren't very good until late in their careers. Gladwell suggested something else as to the success for a later bloomer. After reviewing the biography of Cezanne, he theorized that his success was also contingent on love--the support of others close to him. This was sometimes difficult since Cezanne apparently couldn't draw at a young age and was known to slash and throw paintings out of impatience. Despite this, he still had supporters willing to stand by him.

Sederer does in this post is relate the idea of those with mental illnesses as "late bloomers." He says ..."their illnesses have slowed them down, made emotional and vocational development difficult often since adolescence, and test not only our patience but theirs." Although Sederer is referring to schizophrenia, bipolar, and severe, recurrent, depression, eating disorders can easily be added to the list here, especially those of us who have had eating disorders a long time and may even have been labeled "chronic" at one point. As he points out, "But those who would write them off, conclude they are fated to a life without contribution are not seeing their prospects for recovery--and thus put in peril the faith and support they need from thier loved ones, their friends, and their doctors."

I think for recovery to happen in eating disorders or any other illness, there must be some form of support. We need supporters, like family, friends, and professionals who continuously believe in us, that we can recover, even when we do not believe in this ourselves. We need for them to have blind faith in us.

Yes, I know there
are some people in our lives who must step away from us for a number of various reasons. Maybe it is for themselves, that they can't endure to watch us self-destruct. Maybe we are a trigger to them. Maybe they need a break to take care of themselves more. But the ones who remain with us can become some of our staunchest allies and impact us greatly through the process of recovery.

In a sense, maybe all of us in eating disorder recovery/recovered are "late bloomers." Maybe recovery will be one of our ultimate successes. If you substitute certain words, this
sentence by Galenson sums us up well: (parentheses are my own suggestions for words substitutions)

The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition (desire to recover), but because the kind of creativity (change in thinking) that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.

To me, it is a combination of all these things that further our recovery efforts. Patience, persistence, and love from supporters is indeed helpful, just as it is that we learn to swim through the currents and become our own late bloomers.


Carrie Arnold said...

Wow, Tiptoe, I love that. Those are some great thoughts.

Dr. Deb said...

In a word, YES!

Tiptoe said...

Carrie and Dev, glad you liked the article and post. I thought it was such a great way to look at ourselves.