Bruce Springsteen Battled Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

"Self-loathing" was fuel for his creativity, he said

By Andrew Wine and Emily Feldman
|  Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012  |  Updated 3:07 PM CDT
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Rock Stars: Then and Now

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61-year-old rock legend Bruce Springsteen revealed his bout with depression and suicidal thoughts earlier in his career in a recent interview.

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Behind the accolades, the celebrity and sold-out shows that painted the public life of Bruce Springsteen, was a dark depression that the Boss battled for decades, a New Yorker profile reveals.

While Springsteen was churning out chart-topping singles in the 1980s, he "was also experiencing intervals of depression that were far more serious than the occasional guilt trip about being 'a rich man in a poor man's shirt," his biographer and friend Dave Marsh told the New Yorker.

The depression began around the time he was finishing "Nebraska"—an album that eventually won a spot on the Rolling Stone's list of greatest albums of all time and instantly catapulted him into super-stardom.

The rapid move from obscurity to fame fueled his turmoil. "He was feeling suicidal," Marsh said. "The depression wasn't shocking per se ... now you are getting your ass kissed day and night. You might start to have some inner conflicts about your real self-worth."

The Boss saw a psychotherapist for 30 years to combat the depression he felt, according to The New Yorker.

His four-hour performances that would leave him physically wrecked were not just acts of devotion to his fans. He used it as an escape from his real life, driving himself with “pure fear and self-loathing and self-hatred.”

Over time, however, he was able to heal. His wife, Patti Scialfa, who also admitted to having suffered from depression, said therapy helped her husband.  “He was able to look at himself and battle it out.”

Still, the darkness, Springsteen said, did and continues to feed his creativity.

“I do not know a single artist who does not run on that fuel,” he told the New Yorker. “If you are extremely pleased with yourself, nobody would be ****ing doing it! Brando would not have acted. Dylan wouldn’t have written ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ … That’s a motivation, that element of ‘I need to remake myself, my town, my audience’—the desire for renewal.”

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