Tag Archives: Robin Williams

Our storytelling minds.


A few days ago, I finished reading The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottshcall. In it, Gottschall presents a unique theory–that stories assist humans in navigating the complex social problems we encounter throughout our lives. Likening storytelling to flight simulators, which allow pilots to learn while on the ground, we live out a multitude of situations through the landscapes of make believe which are later applicable to our reality. Storytelling has evolved, he argues, in order to help keep us alive. There are many aspects of this book which I found fascinating–linking narrative to psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Not to mention, highlighting instances where a story changed the course of history (think Wagner’s Rienzi‘s influence on Hitler, Uncle Tom’s Cabin setting the stage for the most terrible war in American history, and the economic impact of Jaws on coastal vacation destinations).

There is another link, however, between narrative and mental illness. After the passing of yet another beloved performer, artist and storyteller who suffered from depression and addiction, the implications of this connection seem exceptionally pertinent. Gottschall points to the psychiatrist Arnold Ludwig’s study of mental illness and creativity which found far higher rates of psychiatric disorders in artistic fields than say political, scientific or business. Perhaps, the book points out, those with mental disorders are drawn towards creative outlets because of the stories they can create there. Stories which can give structure to what is going on inside their heads. Sometimes these stories are what bring us The Starry Night or Mrs. Dalloway and sometimes these stories go terribly awry. At times, there is a tragic cost for having storytelling minds.

So, what does that mean for us? In the wake of Robin William’s passing, diminishing the stigma of mental illness is again on the minds of many. Helping those suffering is a cause worth fighting for and believing in…but how do we do it? Personally, this is something I’ve been trying to find the answer to for some time. And one passage in Gottschall’s book really stood out to me. While it speaks to the success of psychotherapy, I found it an interesting analogy to help me better conceive of depression and it’s effects on the affected brain and person.

According to the psychologist Michele Crossley, depression frequently stems from an “incoherent story,” an “inadequate narrative account of oneself,” or “a life story gone awry.” Psychotherapy helps unhappy people set their life stories straight; it literally gives them a story they can live with…A psychotherapist can therefore be seen as a kind of script doctor who helps patients revise their life stories so that they can play the role of protagonists again–suffering and flawed protagonists, to be sure, but protagonists who are moving toward the light.

We each live the story of our lives. Our stories change and intersect, get written and edited and re-written…and sometimes we need reminders that we are the heroes in our own stories. And so that is how I am resolved to help, to continuously write chapters into my own story in which I name the heroes of others.


(Painting via here.)


mid-week round-up


The last few days have been pretty sad, news-wise, don’t you think? If you’re one of those people who spends tons of time on-line looking at blogs, news sites and social media posts (GUILTY!), it can all get a bit over-whelming. While I do think staying up-to-date on the happenings of the world is of super importance, there is something to be said for balance–especially when all the news you’re consuming over the course of a week strikes such a raw cord. So, check out these links below (which are mostly fun escapes with a few more timely, serious accounts thrown in) and then take time today to do something unplugged. Take a walk in your neighborhood or a local park. Do a relaxing yoga flow. Go to the dollar store, pick up a coloring book and some crayons and do some mindless art. Stay healthy, y’all! Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Wedding photographer‘s fees explained.

Thoughts on fatherhood from the Instagram dads who went viral.

Play outside!

3-ingredient peanut butter cookies.

I’m sick of reading about Lana Del Rey but…

Old garage + salvaged materials = gorgeous studio apartment.

On the Pacific Crest Trail.

This movie looks intense in the best way.

Writers and their cats.

A cute interview with my former teammate.

If you’re not feeling up to anymore serious news right now, stop here, or come back later when you’re in a better head-space. I’ll completely understand. : ) If you ARE feeling up to it, please continue…

Heart-breaking statement from Zelda Williams on the passing of her father, Robin Williams. (He will be greatly missed by so many. I found it so touching to see how strongly he affected those in the Forensics community. As character-poppers and joke-tellers ourselves, he was a magnificent source of inspiration. Mental illness is real, y’all. We MUST do a better job talking about it to erase the stigma and offer helping hands to those suffering.)

Horrific first-person account of the after-math in Ferguson, Missouri. (What sat with me most in Ashley’s article was a random police officer’s words to her. As she was walking through the streets of Ferguson, headed to the candle light vigil for Mike Brown, to show support for, like herself, a mother of an African-American child, a cop told her, “You’ll be shot if you go up there.” Subtext: There are black people up there and you are white. Here, is where I had to stop reading as all the times those words have been spoken to me came flooding back. All the times, as a white woman, someone tried to “warn” me of the presence of black people with the super secret code words…”but you’ll get shot!” And THIS is why the racial profiling, undue fear, and murder of innocents continues to happen. And I’m angry. And perhaps this will get it’s own post on another day because for now, I need to go take MY media break and let the sunshine in so I can send it to yet another mother who lost a son too soon and another mother trying desperately to make sense of the world we’re creating for hers.)

I think each and every one of you are amazing!!! Thank you for stopping by–now go create some sunshine in your day! ❤