Psychoanalyst: Williams Used Comedy to Deflect Demons

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 05:15 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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While comedians often use their talents to keep their own anxieties at bay, the apparent suicide of Robin Williams shows that even a gifted comic mind cannot erase deep-seated psychological anguish, a psychoanalyst told Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

Author and former Yale University professor Heath King told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that Williams, who was found dead on Monday in his California home, fit the profile of an entertainer trying to manage — and mask — mental illness with laughter.

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"So, we're being entertained, but we don't understand that this is for them a survival mechanism," said King. "And the more talented they are, the more they can conceal their pain."

Although Williams' struggles with depression and substance abuse were not widely publicized during his lifetime, King said the veteran comic and actor left clues in his work to the nature of his difficulties.

King cited a stand-up comedy special, 2009's "Weapons of Self-Destruction," in which Williams talks about the hazards posed not just by disease but also by treatment.

"There was a line there I remember where he talked about, 'When I was young, I was told that drugs would kill me. Later, at the age of 58, my doctor's telling me I need drugs to live. Then I found out my doctor is a dealer.'"

King said that the doctor-as-dealer routine reflects a hard truth about treating bipolar forms of depression with pharmaceuticals: "Often . . . it has deleterious side effects."

King said he thinks it will eventually come to light that Williams struggled with exactly those side effects.

The solution, said King, is to find care that works on the underlying condition without destroying the associated spark of creativity.

"The philosopher Aristotle said that in every genius there is a hint of madness," said King, adding that with proper treatment, madness "need not overwhelm the genius" and genius "need not be numbed into limbo by drugs."

Editor's Note: Natural Hormones Help Treat Heart Disease, Depression and Chronic Fatigue

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