Leonard Cohen on depression

[Leonard Cohen] “… So one day, a few years ago, I was in a car, on my way to the airport. I was really, really low, on many medications, and pulled over, I reached behind to my valise, took out the pills, and threw out all the drugs I had. I said, ‘These things really don’t even begin to confront my predicament.” I figured, If I am going to go down I would rather go down with my eyes wide open.”

Leonard Cohen On Psychotherapy

One notes that psychotherapy is not part of the joke.  As Cohen told Stina Lundberg in a 2001 interview:

I don’t trust them [psychological explanations]. As I say in that song: “I know that I’m forgiven, but I don’t know how I know; I don’t trust my inner feelings, inner feelings come and go.” I think that psychological explanations can be valuable and that psychotherapy can be valuable for some people, but the fundamental question of how and why people are as they are is something that we can’t penetrate in this part of the plan, that we simply cannot grasp, and the feelings that arise – we don’t determine what we’re going to see next, we don’t determine what we’re going to hear next, taste next, feel next or think next, we don’t determine, yet we have the sense that we’re running the show. So if anything is relaxed in my mind it’s the sense of control, or the quest for meaning. And my experience is that there is no fixed self. There’s no-one whom I can locate as the real me, and dissolving the search for the real me is relaxation, is the content of peace. But these recognitions are temporary and fleeting, then we go back to thinking that we really know who we are.

And he told another interviewer in 2001:

For one reason or another, I didn’t have any confidence in the therapeutic model. Therapy seems to affirm the idea unconditionally of a self that has to be worked on and repaired. And my inclination was that it was holding that notion to begin with that was the problem — that there was this self that needed some kind of radical adjustment. It didn’t appeal to me for some odd reason.9

Asked if he had tried psychotherapy, Cohen told another interviewer,

I preferred to use drugs. I preferred the conventional distractions of wine, women and song. And religion. But it’s all the same.10

For the record,

Cohen did go to a therapist once, actually — out of desperation. He was so depressed that he called a friend and asked if she could arrange for him to see her therapist straightaway. Then he drove to St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica “at about five miles an hour,” barely able to negotiate the traffic. When he got there, the therapist asked him to describe his feelings. After Cohen had finished, she said, “How can you stand it?”11

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