Tag: Boswell’s Life of Johnson

Depression or “Black Dog”

Depression or “Black Dog”

What is the truth about Churchill suf­fer­ing from depres­sion, which he referred to as his “black dog”? —A.L. Kansas

Churchill him­self makes a few ear­ly men­tions of his “black dog,” but the expres­sion is much old­er than he was. It was fre­quent­ly used by Vic­to­ri­an nan­nies, like Churchill’s Mrs. Ever­est, when their charges were in a dark mood. One ref­er­ence dates it to Boswell’s Life of John­son. Vis­it the Churchill Cen­tre search engine and enter “Black Dog”; you will be led to numer­ous illu­mi­nat­ing ref­er­ences. The first one is by his daugh­ter Lady Soames, who I think has it right:

A lot has been made of the depres­sive side of his char­ac­ter by psy­chi­a­trists who were nev­er in the same room with him.…

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