The Tears of a Clown

Within minutes, the suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams was dominating the news and social media outlets. Many posts referenced Mr. William’s seemingly happy-go lucky approach to life, with a plethora of writers assuming that Robin’s public presentation of self was an earnest reflection of who he really was.

There is general agreement in the mental health field that individuals who behave in a way to draw attention to themselves may well be striving to build an image of self-worth (and even superiority) where one does not exist to any adequate extent. People can do all varieties of outlandish things in their attempt to seek other people’s attention – things that only further erode their lack of self-confidence and esteem. Was such the case with Robin Williams?

Reports state that Robin Williams had a history of substance abuse and severe depression. He admitted spending time with actor John Belushi the very night that John overdosed and died. Cocaine, Williams told People magazine in 1988, “was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down.”

The point is that we can’t judge a book by its cover. In fact, sometimes, perhaps as in the case of comedic genius Robin Williams, the cover is a deliberate deception, belying the reality within. Like the comedic characters portrayed in the opera Pagliacci, Robin hid his hurt behind empty smiles.




About Charles R. Bacinelli, PhD

Dr. Bacinelli holds a Masters in Social Work and a PhD in Human Development. Professional experiences during his 30+ year career includes university teaching as well as direct care and management experiences in child welfare, hospice, home health, counseling, special needs and program development. In addition to overseeing social service staff, Dr. Bacinelli chairs the Ethics Committee and assists in overall program management and development efforts. He is also a licensed PA Notary.


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