Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Life and death of Robin Williams from a psychiatric perspective

A psychological look at the suicide of Hollywood great Robin Williams.

Dr. Hamed Mohammadi Kangarani
Dr. Hamed Mohammadi Kangarani

Salamat [Health] Weekly has published a psychological analysis by Dr. Hamed Mohammadi Kangarani of what may have prompted Robin Williams to take his own life despite laughing and making others laugh for decades. The following is the translation of the piece:

Robin Williams is not the first person with a smiling face whose suicide has taken everybody by surprise. We have seen many people like him in our surroundings. Generally speaking, making fun of different things and using funny and humorous dialogs amount to a defense mechanism which eases stress and concerns.

In one of his movies which revolves around the Second World War, Robin Williams plays a father who uses funny stunts and a language of sarcasm to try to tell his son what the war atmosphere is like.

We have all heard about individuals who keep laughing but wrestle with agony deep inside, like a clown who retells his life story which makes the crowd laugh. “This is the story of my life. What is so funny?” he wonders.

As they say, we cannot judge a book by its cover. For example, in Robin Williams’ case, his next of kin did not know much about what he was going through. Another question which can be said about this is that he was years past his prime. This was likely to blame for his depression. However, nothing can be said with certainty about him since we know little about his final days.

As for the characters he had chosen to play, one can say that apparently he chose happy and comic roles to show to others – through his movies – a world he had failed to have and this was a pleasurable thing for him to do.

He gained more popularity and fame in the 1990s by voicing the iconic genie character in Aladdin [a 1992 American animation]. Perhaps the world of kids has been one of his most enjoyable dreams.

Moreover, in Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams is an English teacher (John Keating) who inspires his students to develop a liking for Shakespeare. Probably he had been suffering from depression owing to physical and family problems and had been wrestling with that for years, but had kept his depression and anxiety in check thanks to his artistic talent and appearance in different roles.

At an old age, many famed actors develop depression. That’s why they resort to things such as suicide. Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe whose deaths still remain shrouded in mystery fell into the category of depressed celebrities too.

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