Diane Arbus

Robert P. Forbes (garrison@minerva.cis.yale.edu)
Mon, 29 Jan 1996 10:29:58 -0500

But for sheer searing imagery,
>was there anyone who captured the evolution and darkness of the times as
>eloquently as Diane Arbus? What demons haunted this woman, that she shot
>the marginalized, the outcasts, and the downright bizarre? And why did she
>kill herself- did she see the horrors to come, or was it the horrors of the
>moment? I have often wondered at her motivations; if anyone has any
>thoughts on this I would appreciate hearing them.

Since you ask.....

As mundane as it may sound, I'm increasingly convinced that the vast
majority of suicide is the lethal side-effect of clinical depression. From
what I understand, the agony of the condition is often so great that the
sufferer who takes his or her life to put a stop to it should be viewed in
the same light as a person who overdoses to put an end to the pain of
cancer, or who jumps from a burning building to avoid being consumed by the
flames. Undoubtedly there is a lot of suicide that remains once one has
accounted for the phenomenon of depression; but I think one should always
start by ruling it out as a cause (as in the death of Abbie Hoffman, for
instance) before speculating about "demons" or about the sense of failure of
a life's work, etc.

My two cents.


Robert P. Forbes (garrison@minerva.cis.yale.edu)
Department of History
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520 Tel.: (203)432-0714 Fax: (203)773-9777