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Tags: Depression | richard | dreyfuss | bipolar | manic | depression | mental

Actor Richard Dreyfuss on His Manic Depression: 'Nuts Is Normal'

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:16 PM

In the popular comedy "What About Bob?" actor Richard Dreyfuss played the role of a psychiatrist. But in recent days, the award-winning actor has acknowledged that in real life he has struggled with manic depression since his youth.
"When I turned 9, I became Richard, distinctly Richard, with my own opinions, reactions, desires, and Richard's sense of Richard's separateness from anyone else," said Dreyfuss at the 7th Annual HOPE Seminar held recently in New York City. The event was sponsored by the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.
In an interview with Everyday Health after the event, Dreyfuss recalled that his unusual behavior first became evident around age 14 and attracted the attention of his friends.
"I would start talking, and then I would keep talking, and then I would stand up and get louder and faster and louder and faster," he said, "until one of my friends would say, okay, let's get the circus cables and tie them around his ankles and pull him gently back down to earth."
Dreyfuss is well known for his leading roles since the 1960s in films including "American Graffiti,” "Jaws," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
Experts say most people who develop manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, typically first have symptoms in their teen or early adult years. It is a chronic mental illness characterized by extremes in mood that can swing between the highs of mania and the lows of depression. Sufferers often have problems with relationships, difficulties at school or on the job, and may be at risk for suicide.
"I knew that I was different from my friends and family because I felt so intensely about things that no one else seemed to think anything about…and that began to scare me," said Dreyfuss during his talk at the HOPE Seminar. "I was living from thrill to thrill [and] life was not like that, however much pleasure I might have gotten."
He also compared the pain of mental illness to "a lash that bloodies the sufferer and those who are close to him or her...and its invisibility is its master stroke, making uncertainty and self-hatred sensible."
Dreyfuss said he believes his condition had a positive impact on his acting.
"It probably handed me my career," said Dreyfuss, who at age 30 became the youngest actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his role in the "The Goodbye Girl" in 1978. "I was out to be different than anybody else, and I succeeded. I had a malady of the mind that I had turned to my advantage."


Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss reveals that he has struggled with manic depression since his youth.
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:16 PM
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