Dr Keith Ablow: depression is the Grand Imposter

Robin Williams wasn’t God, he wasn’t imperial, he wasn’t a dictator, a ruler, an evil man, a politician — or even an “important man.”  Except that he was.

He possessed one quality that so few of us have: the ability to make us laugh and, simultaneously, to make us examine ourselves.  His was one of the absolute quickest wits on the planet, meeting and surpassing his mentor, Jonathan Winters — who was also disturbed:

I watched Jonathan Winters on his own and other numerous television shows.  He was in fact a comic genius and also challenged mentally, spending eight months in a mental hospital in 1959 and again in 1961.  He was diagnosed as bipolar.

On Monday, August 11th, Robin Williams took his own life in his oceanside home in Tiburon, Fornicalia, by hanging.  Asphyxia.

Dr Ablow said:

Robin Williams, a comic genius and one of the great storytellers of our time, apparently chose to end his life because he could not see the next chapter of his own story as containing anything other than unbearable psychological pain.  

Such is the power of depression – an affliction which is almost unimaginable to those who have not suffered with it — to twist the truth into something unrecognizable. For the truth is that there were many new and wonderful pages awaiting Robin Williams; he just couldn’t imagine them. He couldn’t believe the darkness would ever end.

Dr Ablow has stated this perfectly.  And with truth that so cuts to the story.  The real story.

Depression is the grand imposter — posing as all powerful.  It can be defeated, every time, if you or the person you care about confronts it like the grand imposter that it is.

Depression is always, to an extent, a psychotic illness. It steals reality — which is, in large measure, defined by the completely justifiable hope in tomorrow’s possibilities — and replaces it with a world in which one doubts his or her abilities, discounts to zero his or her past successes, doubts love, doubts friendship and doubts God.

In its worst forms, it is much more than profound sadness; it is the conviction that nothing good will ever occur, sometimes coupled with horrific and constant anxiety that something unspeakably terrible is about to happen–in a minute, or this very night, or tomorrow.   

I can tell you that I have been where Robin Williams was then.

I was there when I encountered my divorce.  I can clearly remember sitting on my sloped concrete driveway in the Greenhaven Pocket area, at night, wondering why I was kicked out of my own house — sitting in front of it — why my wife no longer loved me, why my life was completely collapsing around me.  I simply lacked the capability to understand.  It was summer.  My tears hit the concrete and then dried in an instant, as though they had never even happened.  My tears were like my life, then.  I concluded this.

As though the past seven years had never occurred.

I went to work, in Patrol, and didn’t wear my vest.  My beat partner noticed this and my supervisor noticed this.  I didn’t care.  If I got shot I got shot and I couldn’t have cared less.

But they cared.  They took me aside and spoke to me individually.  Not like supervisors or cops but man-to-man.  Like peers.  I will never forget them or their efforts.

In 1987 and 1988, they kept me alive.

I was looking at the Short Game.  They were looking at the Long Game.

This is an incredible paragraph, and a telling one from Dr Ablow:

I utterly refuse to give up and will deploy any and every tool at my disposal to win, because I know that every, single case of major depression is a puzzle that can potentially be solved.  Every one of them.  No exception.  Period.

I lived.  I survived.  Many a trauma and many more future difficulties.  Things that, in retrospect, would have felled lesser mortals.  I’ve been a cop for 41+ years.  And have been involved in any number of critical incidents to include the taking of a life.

I am proud of that.  Of my survival.  Despite the odds.

And I am here today — to be proud of that — because I did not act on my darkest of days.



Robin Williams is dead at age 63, by his own hand.

Robin Williams DangerRobin Williams is dead at the age of 63?

Of an apparent suicide?

Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter that Williams “has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

I’m sorry.  This will take a while to process.

Go here.

Mork and MindyAnd where I first discovered Robin Williams, above.

Is comedy dead?

Is improv dead?

Is brilliance in improv comedy dead?

Long live Robin Williams, the true master of the comedic.

There was no one faster in comedy than Robin Williams.  Absolutely no one.

And I think to myself: the world is completely diminished by his loss. 

Robin, please — we need more laughter these days, not less.


Robin Williams Lasrt PhotoLast photo of Robin Williams.



Sid Caesar, creator of “Your Show of Shows,” dead at 91

Sid CaesarSid Caesar, 1922 to 2014

From Showbiz411.com:

by Roger Friedman

Sid Caesar has died in Los Angeles at age 91. The creator of “Your Show of Shows” had been in fragile health for some time. If you don’t know his name ( and I’m sure you do) , Sid Caesar is where all contemporary comedy began. He launched Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Woody Allen with “Your Show of Shows.” There was even a movie made about him, sort of– “My Favorite Year,” written by one of his other disciples, Norman Steinberg. With Imogene Coca, Sid Caesar created an unparalleled legacy. In recent times, Brooks, Reiner and friends like Lainie Kazan, Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna had been going to Caesar’s house on Sundays to entertain him as he convalesced.

You can’t get more concise than this:

You certainly did, sir.




Novelist Elmore Leonard passes at age 87

Elmore LeonardFrom the NYTimes.com:

Elmore Leonard, Who Refined the Crime Thriller, Dies at 87

Elmore Leonard, the prolific crime novelist whose louche characters, deadpan dialogue and immaculate prose style in novels like “Get Shorty,” “Freaky Deaky” and “Glitz” established him as a modern master of American genre writing, died on Tuesday at his home in Bloomfield Township, Mich. He was 87.

His death was announced on his Web site.

To his admiring peers, Mr. Leonard did more than merely validate the popular crime thriller; he stripped the form of its worn-out affectations, reinventing it for a new generation and elevating it to a higher literary shelf.

Reviewing “Riding the Rap” for The New York Times Book Review in 1995, Martin Amis cited Mr. Leonard’s “gifts — of ear and eye, of timing and phrasing — that even the most indolent and snobbish masters of the mainstream must vigorously covet.” As the American chapter of PEN noted, when honoring Mr. Leonard with a lifetime achievement award in 2009, his books “are not only classics of the crime genre, but some of the best writing of the last half-century.”

And that is the absolute truth.  Elmore Leonard not only wrote about crime, but he wrote some significant western novels as well, some of which were turned into various movies such as Hombre and Valdez Is Coming.

Mr Leonard’s list of novels is here.

My favorites?  His earlier works:

Fifty-Two Pickup. New York : Delacorte Press, 1974.

Swag. New York : Delacorte Press, 1976.
Unknown Man No. 89. New York : Delacorte Press, 1977.
The Hunted. New York : Dell, 1977.

The Switch. New York : Bantam Books, 1978.

And City Primeval.

Elmore Leonard was the King of Dialogue with sparse, true writing.  Any and every current or budding writer should absolutely purchase Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing.”  Simply mandatory.  Please, I implore, click on the link directly above.

Mr. Leonard is survived by five children from his first marriage, Jane Jones, Katy Dudley and Peter, Christopher and William Leonard; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

Elmore John Leonard Jr. was born in New Orleans on Oct. 11, 1925. Nine years later his father, an executive with General Motors, moved the family to Detroit. After graduating from high school in 1943, he did a two-year stretch in the Navy. Picking up his schooling at the University of Detroit, he graduated in 1950 and became a copywriter for a Detroit advertising agency.

His first crime novel, “The Big Bounce,” set in Michigan, was published in 1969 and kicked off a series of hard-boiled crime narratives — “Fifty-Two Pickup,” “Swag,” “Unknown Man No. 89”and the raw genre masterpiece “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit” among them — that to some of his die-hard fans define the essence of urban noir.

I would highly recommend all of the above books for anyone wanting to introduce themselves to Leonard’s excellent writing.  They are my absolute favorites.

But in terms of urban noir, I would also recommend two other American novelists: James Ellroy and the little-known and oddball Eugene Izzi.

You won’t go wrong with any of these three crime writers, as well as cop writers Joseph Wambaugh and Gerald Petievich — subjects for another later post.

Goodbye, Dutch.

You will be missed.