Skip to main content

Depression and the Nobel Prize

It was an irresistible title. I followed the link to the New York Times and found the October 21, 2008 story by Tara Parker-Pope, about Dr. Douglas C. Prasher, a biochemist whose early work contributed to what would later lead to a Nobel Prize -- for somebody else.

Prasher has recurrent major depressive disorder. Today he drives a courtesy van for a car dealer. He says there was more to his departure from science besides his depression, lack of funding, family obligations... But that is part of the story. Depression doesn't help you find funding and meet family obligations. Depression can turn tying your shoes into a challenge. Parker-Pope wrote, "I find Dr. Prasher’s story to be a notable reminder of the toll depression can take on the lives and careers of many brilliant minds."

I told the story to Helen this afternoon, ending in my most dramatic mode, "I coulda had a Nobel Prize!" She didn't let me laugh it off, "Well, you coulda had a PhD. You coulda been bishop of... or rector of..."


She keeps the list in greater detail than I do. I try not to go there. I appreciate Dr. Prasher's response, “There are other people who would have deserved it a whole lot more than me,” he says of the Nobel Prize. “They worked their butts off over their entire lives for science, and I haven’t.” He is smiling in the picture, standing next to the courtesy van. I consider my own checkered resume and think, that's not such a bad job.

Then Helen continues my story, "Instead, you are sitting here, with your afternoon tea and biscuits, surrounded by all this." Surrounded by Costa Rica, our casita, watching the colibri
flit through our papaya, and the ladies holding their umbrellas as they ride their bicycles past our house in the rain.

No moral. It just is.

photo by Helen Keefe, used by permission

Comments

Popular Posts

In the Bleak Midwinter

For Prozac Monologues readers whatever your state this holiday.



In the bleak mid-winter frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty Jesus Christ.

Angles and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air,
But his mother only in her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart.

poem by Christina Rossetti, 1872 painting by Ivan Shishkin, 1890

Six Ways to Heal the Holes in Your Head

Bohemian Chanukah

A great miracle happened there.



Happy Hanukkah to all Prozac Monologues readers.
Let the light shine!