A Psychiatric Eulogy for Robin Williams - Psychiatricanswers

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Some comments on the Psychiatric Times Web as a respond to an article by H. Steven Moffic, MD

A Psychiatric Eulogy for Robin Williams

By H. Steven Moffic, MD
August 13, 2014

         Thank you, Dr. Moffic, for expressing the state of mind of those that also feel the early physical departure of Robin Williams as if he was a relative who died. I know that we will always have his talent and hilarious antics, but I regret missing what was expected to continue coming from him and also that he cannot keep receiving the love of his fans and family.

          I also have an academic motive to start a discussion: The APA’s opinion of not making a diagnosis unless we have examined a person is a well-grounded idea that I follow and support. Still, like in almost everything, the black and white thinking could restrict the intellectual growth. For example, when I was a Second Year Resident at the revered Massachusetts Mental Health Center, my psychoanalysis supervisor, the late Dr. Marvin Grimm told me that he was going to present the psychoanalysis of Shakespeare at the Congress of the World Association of Psychoanalysis that was going to take place in Vienna.

           We know that he never met the famous writer and I would like to present the ranking of the “league” in which Dr. Grimm was playing.  I say so because he was not a household name in the world of psychiatry, like you, Dr. Moffic, or my friends Ronald Pies, Hagop Akiskal, Nassir Ghaemi or some of the respected professors that I am to mention next.

           I was lucky enough to have Thomas Gutheil as supervisor in forensic psychiatry, while Carl Zalzman and David Osser oversaw psychopharmacology (the now renowned Robert Birnbaum was then a Junior professor that also lectured in this part of psychiatry). The mensch Robert Goissman was the expert in CBT, Michael Miller a gentle and knowledgeable supervisor of inpatient work, the venerable Ben Gurian in Geriatrists, and Alan Green was sharing his research in psychotic disorders with us eager learners. The very talented Robert Waldinger taught the theories of psychoanalysis. In fact, I remember the obvious admiration Dr. Waldinger had for Dr. Grimm.

            From the perspective of a non-famous doctor who has the background of having been a journalist and anchorman in Dominican Republic, as a good observer I realize that routinely pass judgment. My oldest daughter has made comments such as “I have a client that can use your help” because fact is that we all get an impression of the possible psychological makeup of people we come across in life.  My grandmother used to say “lo que está a la vista no necesita espejuelos” (you don’t need glasses to read big characters).

           In the case of the beloved Robin Williams it is even easier because he made fun of his pressured speech (check his interview at “Inside the Actor Studio” posted in Youtube) while James Lipton was trying to start…he was enjoying the fact that he could not stop talking. The legendary Larry King had similar experience during I interview in CNN.  Besides, Robin made two HBO shows with these titles: “Robin Williams, Unmedicated” and more recently “The Crazy Ones.”  

           I respectfully believe that we not only could but should speculate (in private) about the possible diagnosis of public figures because it is another tool to help to keep our skills in good shape.

Manuel Mota-Castillo, M.D.
Lake Mary, Florida

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