Robin Williams – A lesson to us all?

I am amazed at the impact that Robin Williams’ suicide seems to have had on the world. Has any actor’s death ever had such an impact?

Many struggle with the fact that he apparently committed suicide. As somebody who is very familiar with depression and has also been close to suicide, and who just loves Robin Willliams movies, I find this especially relevant.

I realised long ago that depression is not just some ‘disorder’ or ‘brain dysfunction’. What is a ‘disorder’ in any case but a name that reinforces our illusion that we understand the human psyche? Depression is the body’s reaction to a state of mind.

Robin Williams was known for the kind of roles that effectively showed up the insanity of our society. What I see as a central theme in them is both Love – not just another human emotion, but the essence that connects us all – and the extreme resistance our society has towards this very Love.

Is there not a great similarity between what happened to Robin and what happened to the boy Neill who shot himself in Dead Poets’ Society? A boy who had seen that there was another way, but seemed trapped in the insane belief system that denied this other reality? The belief system that we call ‘normality’?

In Cannery Row, John Steinbeck wrote, "It has always seemed strange to me … the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second".

Robin seemed to have had all the traits of the ‘things we admire in men’. It also seems clear to me that the ‘produce of the second’ did not make him happy. My personal feeling is that he simply was unable to reconcile the reality of Love that he knew exists and had been demonstrating all his life, and the very different world he was living in.

Was Robin’s death not perhaps the most poignant expression so far of what he and his directors were trying to get across in the various movies in which he played?

Is his very death not a call to us to re-examine our own obsession with materialism and consumerism, blame and counter blame, and to seek that which connects us all – love?

slipslidinaway 2014-08-14 09:42:37 AM
"I am amazed at the impact that..." Really? There was an impact? Wow.
James Andrew Holeson 2014-08-14 09:46:44 AM
My sense of it all remains the same. Self-check out is a selfish way to make a speedy exit. What about those left behind?
SunshinyDay 2014-08-14 09:52:28 AM
I am quite sad about Robin Williams. He has always been one of my favourite actors and I have basically everything he's been in in my movie collection. People need to stop judging him. I myself have suffered from depression (which I had to drag myself out of because there was no money for treatment). It is NOT fun and it's NOT as easy as just getting over whatever is bothering you. The scars on my arms represent a devastating time in my life which no one understood, my family thought I was being difficult, my friends thought I was just bitter over stupid things. To this day I have terrible mood swings, something simple can put me in a bad mood for days. People, depression is NOT just having an off day, it's NOT just a matter of get over it and it doesn't even have to be over anything major. Please don't dismiss anyone who feels depressed. To this day my family doesn't know I the extent of my depression and the things I did. Anyone can appear happy but be really depressed.
StephenWilliams 2014-08-14 10:26:25 AM
John Steinbeck might have written what you quoted him as having written, but does it make sense? Kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feelings, are not the reason failure in our system, the lack of those thinks are the reasons for failure in society. People need to think more about what they read as opposed to just accepting them as fact because its in a book or because someone famous or important said it.
Rammsteen 2014-08-14 10:27:02 AM
I think you may be digging a bit too deep to try and find a tad of romanticism portrayed in his (life and) death. As with all of us, Robin Williams also went through a stage where he had financial problems and had to accept acting roles he never wanted to portray. As with a lot of us, he battled alcoholism and battled increasingly to face reality. I don't think us "normal" folk ever really know what real depression is - besides, like there are kinds of different people, so much variations of depression.
Kathy Burger Hellyar 2014-08-14 10:29:21 AM
Well said.
Arthur Harding 2014-08-14 11:47:45 AM
I understand that depression can have a huge impact on someones life I also understand that sometimes it is really hell for these people. But honestly I resent the fact that people expect other to bend over backwards to accommodate these people the world is a place where we all have to adapt to fit in sometimes what makes these patients so special that that the world is implored to adapt to their condition?
GustavMahler 2014-08-14 01:17:29 PM
“Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says his life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says: "Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. "But doctor... I am Pagliacci."”
Cayowin 2014-08-14 03:35:38 PM
"Has any actor’s death ever had such an impact?" May i answer your rhetorical question with a rhetorical question? Have you heard of James Dean?
John Greystoke 2014-08-14 04:22:36 PM
If Clint Eastwood ever dies I think I won't be able to carry on. But fortunately he seems to be immortal, so far!