A child is born, and in the whirlwind of his parent’s lives he feels isolated and alone. The only time he feels connected to his mother is when he makes her laugh, so he develops his sense of humour and comes to rely on her laughter as his strongest bonding experience.
His body grows along with his comic genius, and he is eventually discovered. The fame and fortune that soon follow help to fill the hole in his heart. But in time even the laughter of millions is not enough to fill the void, and the man turns to alcohol for that warm fuzzy feeling that is akin to the applause he gets on stage, akin to the validation he felt when his mother laughed at his jokes. Cocaine soon follows as the perfect drug to match the manic edge of his humour.
At a certain point he realizes there is a problem, and seeks the help of professionals. He kicks his alcohol and cocaine habit in rehab, and goes back to his original addiction: a constant diet of laughter and praise from his adoring fans.
Years later the addictions return. Robin realizes the emptiness inside of him will never go away, that he will always be dancing with the demon that is the underpinning of his genius. Despair sets in, and the hopelessness of his situation weighs heavily upon him. He sees no way out, save ending his life.
You might think that I made this story up, to which I say that it is no more fictional than the story our culture has made up about addiction and depression, its causes and its cures. Through my work, too often I see the focus put on correcting the chemical imbalance instead of addressing what has caused the imbalance in the first place. I see the focus being on getting the person off of drugs, but not on what drove them to do them in the first place.
Behind every addict is someone who is soothing the pain of some traumatic life event, some unbearable childhood loss. The death of Robin Williams is a high-profile example of how poorly we understand addiction and depression, how we fail to address the traumatic basis of these issues, and how unsuccessful we are in treating them.
- In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr Gabor Mate
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Recommended Viewing:
- Good Will Hunting