Leonard Cohen On Psychotherapy, Drugs, Religion, Wine, Women, & Song

Interviewer: I asked him at the Mayflower if he’d ever tried psychotherapy …

No. But I try everything else… It was an opinion of mine, based on no research or evidence-well, evidence, yes, because I saw my friends in therapy did not look improved. I preferred to use drugs. I preferred the conventional distractions of wine, women and song. And religion. But it’s all the same. [Interviewer: When you say ‘drugs,’ do you mean something like Prozac, or the recreational kind?] Well, the recreational, the obsessional and the pharmaceutical. I’ve tried them all. I would be enthusiastically promoting any one of them if any one of those worked. [Interviewer: Well, what about the wine and women?] They’re the worst of all. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


A summary of information about Leonard Cohen’s depression can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution. Also see Leonard Cohen’s Psychotherapy Session.

From Look Who’s Back at 67: Gentle Leonard Cohen by Frank DiGiacomo. New York Observer: Oct 15, 2001. Originally posted Apr 29, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen Talks About How Life Changed When His Depression Ended

I feel tremendously relieved that I’m not worried about my happiness. There are things of course that make me happy, when I see my children well, when I see my daughters dogs – that are things that produce a sense of real happiness and gratitude in my life, a glass of wine… But what I am so happy about is that the background of distress and discomfort has evaporated. It’s not that I don’t feel distressed, it’s not that I don’t get drugs and I don’t feel sad about things that I see and know and what happens to people around me. It’s not that the emotions don’t come, it’s just that the background is clear – before it was all one piece, it was very dark. I could pierce the darkness, and I know people in much worse shape than I was, but I always told myself, what do you have to complain about, and that was a good question, because I didn’t have anything to complain about. But nevertheless, and you keep it to yourself except it comes out in your work a certain sorrow or anguish or suffering, something that is not right. And by the grace of God, that feeling has evaporated, so that I can feel real sorrow now, it’s not the sorrow that emerges from the sorrow, it’s not just the melancholy that emerges from the melancholy. So when things touch me in a sorrowful way I can speak about them, and more important, I can feel them. Before it was hard to differentiate any feeling, because it was – there was a kind of mist, a kind of distress over everything, but that lifted. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Looks Back On The Past (unedited interview for Norwegian Radio) by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles

“You can just see things more clearly. It’s a veil that drops.” Leonard Cohen On The Effect Of His Depression Ending

When the background of distress dissolves, you’re able to see people more clearly. [Interviewer: People who love you, you mean?] Yeah, or don’t.  You’re able to appreciate the authentic situation. You can just see things more clearly. It’s a veil that drops. You’re not looking at everything from the point of view of your own suffering.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Life Of A Ladies’ Man by Sarah Hampson. Globe and Mail: May. 25 2007. Photo by Paul Zollo (Pico Blvd, L.A. – Feb 26, 2007)

A summary of the clinical depression from which Leonard Cohen can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution

“I tried all the conventional remedies [for depression] – wine, women and song. Nothing worked, including religion” Leonard Cohen On The Resolution Of His Clinical Depression

For me, [the retreat at Mount Baldy Zen Center] was one of the many attempts I’ve made in the past thirty or forty years to address a condition known as acute clinical depression. I tried all the conventional remedies – wine, women and song. Nothing worked, including religion. But fortunately, this condition dissolved. [Interviewer: With being on the mountain?] I don’t know. I don’t know how it began or how it ended, but, thankfully, it did end. Nothing worked for me. Not the recreational drugs, nor the obsessional drugs, nor the pharmaceutical medications. The only effect Prozac had on me, I confused with a spiritual achievement – I thought I’d transcended my interest in women. I later learned the destruction of the libido is one of the side effects. But it’s a mysterious conclusion, because I really don’t know what happened. I read somewhere that as you get older, the brain cells associated with anxiety begin to die. [Pauses] A lot of other brain cells die, too, so you’ve got to watch out.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Leonard Cohen on Becoming a Monk, Why His Opinions Don’t Matter by Mark Binelli. Rolling Stone: Nov 8, 2001.

More about Leonard Cohen’s depression can be found at .  All Cohencentric posts on this issue are collected at .

“I always had a background of distress, ever since I was young.” Leonard Cohen On His Depression

I always had a background of distress, ever since I was young. What part that played in becoming a writer or a singer or whatever it was that one became, I don’t know. I didn’t have a sense of an operational ease. [Interviewer: About life?] Just about one’s work or one’s capacity to earn a living; a capacity to find a mate or find a moment of relief in someone’s arms.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From Life Of A Ladies’ Man by Sarah Hampson. Globe and Mail: May. 25 2007. Photo by Cory Doctorow from London. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia Commons

Also see Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution

Leonard Cohen on His Depression: Cyclicity, Neurotransmitters, Why Encouragement Doesn’t Help …

From An Interview With Leonard Cohen by Rob O’Connor (Downtown, Feb 12, 1992). This article was contributed by Dominique BOILE. Originally posted Aug 6, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

More About Leonard Cohen’s Depression

All posts dealing with Leonard Cohen’s depression are collected . A summary can be read at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution