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TOWNHALL.COM: ROBIN WILLIAMS-COMEDY AND TRAGEDY by CAL THOMAS


Cal  Thomas

Robin Williams made me cry. Like his mentor, the late Jonathan Winters, Williams, who committed suicide Monday, made me laugh so intensely tears would come to my eyes.

Williams’ death made headlines and led TV newscasts. His comedic genius diverted us from stories about terrorism and other sadness in the world. That’s what comedy does. It makes us forget our troubles — national, international and personal — and for a moment, embrace happiness.

Williams, who seemed full of joy on the outside, was apparently tormented on the inside. He suffered from clinical depression. An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from depression, according to the Mayo Clinicwebsite(sic). He may have tried to conquer it in the ’70s and ’80s by self-medicating with cocaine, but the drug, while creating an intense high, is often followed quickly by “intense depression,” according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

Many people misunderstand clinical depression. They think because someone has wealth and fame, or circumstances better than others, they should be happy, or at least content.

Robin Williams wasn’t normal. While he made others laugh — and in his serious roles, such as that of Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, conveyed profound and timeless virtues — he was deeply troubled. Ironically, his part in this film was that of a psychologist.

President Obama referred to Williams’ numerous and diverse film roles: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny … and everything in between. But he was one of a kind.” Indeed.

Rolling Stone magazine reported; “Last month, Williams checked himself into a rehab facility to ‘fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud,’ his rep said at the time.”

I asked Dave Berg, the former co-producer of “The Tonight Show,” for his greatest memory of Williams, who appeared on the show many times with Jay Leno. He sent this email:

“I once brought my two young children to “The Tonight Show” to meet Robin. They had watched the video of ‘Hook’ many times, and were mesmerized by his performance as Peter Pan in the 1991 film. When Robin came out of his dressing room, and saw my 3-year-old son David and my 7-year-old daughter Melissa, he immediately crouched down, so he could be eye level with them. David asked Robin how he was able to fly in the film. Without missing a beat, Robin answered: ‘A little magic and very tight pants.’ Both the kids and the adults laughed, but for different reasons because Robin was playing to both audiences. That’s true comedic genius.”

Psychiatrist Keith Ablow, appearing on Fox News, said “95 percent” of people with clinical depression are treatable. Whether Robin Williams was among the 5 percent who aren’t, or there were other factors, we may never know.

In one of his most profound roles, that of poetry teacher John Keating in the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society,” Williams told his students: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

It’s sad to see someone who could make so many people laugh suffer from depression. Worse, his death and the loss of his talent add to the general gloominess that hangs over much of the world.

MY TWO SENSE:

Although Robin Williams may not have been burdened by the high costs of mental health professionals, most people are, and a combination of other variables, which effect all with Major Depression, put Williams in such a dark space that he determined death was the answer to his suffering.  (Mental illness, once thought to be a matter of feeling sorry for oneself, believe it or not, remains the number one belief to this day.) 
Social stigma, along with the high costs of medical insurance for mental health issues, play co-conspirators in suicide deaths of the clinically depressed.  Not only do insurance companies recognize that mental illness is organic and therefore should be covered under the same guidelines as physical illness, they continue to support and further enable the stigmatization of anyone desperate enough to come out of hiding to seek professional help.  The added financial stressors of exorbitant costs, atop the mental health issue that brought the patient forward, punishes rather than helps and sets up yet another barrier to getting well.  The plethora of hoop-jumping insurance companies, and society, sets up for those already in a fragile state, work in conjunction to create a very sad outcome for anyone attempting to cope with clinical or major depression.  Secrecy, self-medicating, lying, deception, and covering up are all part of major depression dynamics and are directly linked to the fear and misunderstanding of mental illness.  Those who suffer depression to such a degree, have already tried to help themselves regain a sense of well-being by the abusive use of alcohol and/or drugs of all kinds.  The moment at which such an individual gives up and has come to believe that ending life is the only way to stop the pain, is the moment of no return.  It is an extremely dark mental space, and one in which the individual recognizes that living is more terrifying than dying.  In death, it is reasoned, there will be no more pain.  However, what the depressed person is not immediately cognizant of is the fact that death not only ends the torment, it ends everything else as well.  When there is no hope, there is nothing left to live for, so believes the individual suffering.  However, this is a dangerous, and in Williams’ case, a fatal error in judgment caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals which control human emotions.  Those who suffer continuous mental anguish, such as Williams, can only survive that state for so long before something breaks.  Truly understanding mental illness, which will ultimately change the social perception of those who suffer, is the greatest gift society can bring to humanity
JUST ME

August 15, 2014 Posted by | Here And Now, Humor?, Must See | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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