Ellen White’s Depression

Dr. Benjamin Baker discusses Ellen White's lifelong struggle with depression.

WATCH Ellen White's Depression below (or click here):

All quotations used in this talk can be found at https://egwwritings.org/.


Benjamin Baker is the creator of blacksdahistory.org. He can be reached at benjaminj.baker@hotmail.com.

Video and main image courtesy of the author / blacksdahistory.org.


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11024

Didn’t watch the discussion and don’t intend to. Having been brought up an SDA, I was unaware that EGW suffered from depression in addition to her many other “foibles”—hypochondria, narcissism, meat-eating, hyper-judgementalism, addiction to alcohol infused vinegar, delusions of grandeur, spending borrowed money to the point of near bankruptcy, etc.—and only learned of these after asking to be disfellowshipped from the congregation.
However, knowing what I know now (and what the church has known for more than a century) I find it unfathomable that the denomination hasn’t formally disavowed this pillar of their sect.
This decision to not do act makes perfect sense, however, if seen from the perspective of not wanting to kill the goose that laid so many golden egg whites.


Just a Question : There are - well, I assume - let us say - 42 789 physicians , who had their education and academic trainig in SDA instituions… Ths includes anatomy, physilogy, chemistry, surgery, obesterics - - and psychiatry.

Why does it take Dr Benjanin Baker Baker to persent , what everybody knowing English could have read out of - let us say - “Experiences and Views” ?

If you were tomake your internship in my departement, I would have give you "Stefan Zweig –
g : “Phantastische Nacht”,Michelngeol poems and EGWs Book i metioned above with the assignement to underline what psychopathological phenomena you find and explain your diagnosis .Deadline trhree weeks. And an “E” being a possible evaluation !


this is such an interesting video…certainly egw frequently uses the term “depression” when describing her own experience, and while baker isn’t attempting a DSM5 diagnosis, i wonder if it carries things too far to imply that there’s an overlap in the life of egw with what clinically mentally ill people experience…i actually know people who are clinically depressed, and who are being prescribed medication…i see a clear difference between what they suffer and what egw’s accounts seem to suggest…of course this doesn’t mean egw didn’t really suffer…she clearly did…

my own feeling is that egw’s “depression” is really the type of thing associated with keenly artistic personalities: she’s perceiving and feeling things, not from a position of mental pathology, but from a heightened sensitivity that generally by-passes average people…i’ve just finished memorizing scriabin’s op.42, no.5 piano etude…even at the relatively slow tempo i’m playing it at now, it’s clear that scriabin has tapped into feelings and impressions that few will ever access, even when playing this etude…was scriabin mentally ill, or was he acutely artistically aware…

i don’t believe egw was ever mentally ill in the clinical sense, at all…i think her suffering stemmed from a heightened awareness of reality that few, if any, will ever access…while this isn’t minimizing her suffering, it is distinguishing her from what actually ill people have to deal with each and every day…


Good grief. If we didn’t make her out to be Jesus Christ reincarnated then maybe some would find it easier to stop being so hard on her. She was born into this world a sinner, needing to die to this world, and be reborn into the Kingdom of God. But no, many of SDA’s make her out to be holy Ellen mother of God. If we would just test her prophesying’s, hold fast to those that are good, and pass on anything that doesn’t stand on God’s Word of Love, the scriptures, then she could have her faults like all of us. But no, we puff her up so high that many evil people just can’t help but want desperately to burst her supposed bubble.


Mrs. White spent years of her life going from town to town passing judgement on whom ever she deemed deserving of her supposedly divine recriminations.
Thus, if anyone is guilty of puffing up her legendary “good intentions”—and all allegedly at the behest of her savior who said “judge not”—it was Mrs. White herself.


I agree plus she missed James after his early death.

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the absence of james is certainly a factor to consider, at least for the first few yrs of egw’s widowhood…but i also think her prophetic perspective, unique in all of human history, brought her a great deal of depression…certainly she could see how deeply the world was entrenched in sin and death, and the fact that god’s sacrifice of his son, while a full and complete propitiation, would not be enough to save millions upon millions from themselves…what a horrible picture to contemplate…

certainly egw’s premium, vivid understanding of eternal things would have isolated her from those around her, much of which she obviously didn’t find words to express…she was clearly in a position of knowledge that brought constant pain and suffering…

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Sorry, most of you did NOT read the biography of her childhood - Chapter III : “Time of Dispear”" - this nowdays would require a n intensive, complex Special therapy ! And Ministry ! And at least Coaching the Family !

I Still remebered the remark of a dear Sister the age of my mother, a friedly, jolly Person, explaining to us : " I:cannot read “her” - I get depressed !" - -15 Years later I learned in the clinic : A maior Depression can induce a whole household including the servants into what looks like the maior depressin - -

And now such is poured over the heads of thousands and millions !

1961 I heard my firts - and only one ! sermon on Job - except chapter one, two and 42 andt he proof Texts , printed in bold letters. - 19 :5 ! - nohing about man destroying the natural environment, (Chapter 28) Nothing about the cartalogue of virtues (Chapter 31,), nothng about Jobs selfesteem as a special handywork of the Creator (10 : 3.; 8.; 9. - 14 ., 15., : 14 : . 8., 9. - - -) and the clinical descrption (31 : 14. - 30.) of a maior Depression DSM 296/2.x,3./x. I only question the accuracy of prevalence (31 : 14.,. . 29…) Why does the SS Department and our minisry neglect this complete book as a condesed display of wisdom ?

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actually i’ve read every word of it more than once, and i don’t recall needing psychotherapy afterwards…

gerhard, you’re just going to have to accept that thousands, possibly millions, of people read egw regularly without experiencing psychosomatic symptoms…take my mother and grandmother, for instance…not only did they read egw, but they talked egw constantly amongst themselves…in those days, home kitchens in s. africa were the gathering place for women in the world, which along with endless work, also meant endless chatting…of course i wasn’t allowed anywhere near the kitchen, but this doesn’t mean i didn’t overhear some of the talk, both secretly intentionally and unintentionally…i can tell you that my mother and all of her sisters were constantly talking amongst themselves about the soon coming of christ, what we need to do to prepare, and what egw had to say about things…

my guess is that the SS department gears its work towards average church members, and not specialists with several graduate degrees behind their names…


I agree. I don’t think the average reader really understands what she went through physically as a child & there was little help. I believe God used a woman who understood suffering. Her personality was uniquely sensitive. Viewing the visions of horror must have been exhausting. I, myself, struggle with the suffering in the world knowing so many won’t choose Jesus. When I visited elmshaven I went against the rules and sat where she sat in the little alcove with windows from every direction I was moved to tears that this fragile little old lady had to see the worst yet still wrote words of comfort and love there that help me each day. There was still a sense of the sacred there :hibiscus:


of this there can be no doubt…i’m glad she was so ultra-sensitive…there’s very little in human experience that she didn’t fully describe and address…someone less sensitive would never have been able to be as thorough as egw is in her descriptions of what true spirituality means…

as soon as the pandemic is over, i plan to visit elmshaven…i’ve heard others say that they, too, sense something sacred at this particular place…

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