Robin Williams and “Divine Madness”



The ancient philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, pondered this question: Why do so many creative people — those considered to be great artists and geniuses — seem to struggle with some form of mental instability or mental illness. The Greeks called it “divine madness,” and it was brought to the fore this week by the shocking suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams.

A USA Today article noted that other famous “painters, poets, writers, musicians, and designers” including “Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, [and] Alexander McQueen” suffered from feelings of intense depression and also committed suicide. Sadly, 63-year-old Robin Williams, who had long battled substance abuse and had recently sought treatment for depression, joined that number this week.

Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that her studies seem to back up the popular idea of the “tortured genius.” She examined nearly 50 writers and artists in Britain and found that more than 38% had been treated for a mood disorder. However, other researchers say that creative people are no more susceptible to depression and suicide than others. Jeffrey Borenstein, president of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, said, “Over 100 people a day in the U.S. die by suicide. The vast majority aren’t famous celebrities. Anyone can be affected by mental illness. It’s not particularly prevalent in people with very high intelligence or lower.”

Whether there is some truth to the idea of “divine madness” or whether such sad occurrences in the lives of creative people are simply coincidences, one thing is clear: no one, no matter how smart, intelligent, gifted, funny, creative, rich, or good-looking they are, can make it through life on their own. Everyone needs hope, peace, and assurance along the way of life.

There is only one source that offers that kind of peace and assurance, and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave several promises to His disciples that speak to this very issue.

In John 16:33, He said: “In the world, ye shall have tribulation (trials, problems, difficulties, trouble): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

In John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

This world can’t give us peace. This world can’t give us joy. This world can’t give us contentment. This world cannot give us rest.

When this world promises peace, it is giving us a fragile glass vase that will easily shatter at the first tremor of an earthquake. Those who turn to drugs, money, sex, or gambling in their search for peace only end up digging a deeper hole of depression, loneliness, and despondency for themselves. You can only have true peace in your heart, mind, soul, and spirit if you look for it from someone who is far bigger and far greater than anything this world has to offer. That person is Jesus Christ. He gave His disciples peace. You can have that peace if you make the decision to become His disciple today. When you make that decision, the Bible says, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard and protect) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Would you like to have peace of heart and mind in this world, and then enjoy eternal peace in Heaven with God? If so, there are a few steps you must take.

First, recognize that your sins have separated you from God. Sin is the root cause of the lack of peace in a person’s heart and mind. Even though Adam and Eve were the first to sin, we must each take responsibility for our actions. In honest repentance agree with God about your sinfulness and admit your need for forgiveness. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Second, realize that God loves you, and believe that His sinless Son Jesus Christ died for your sins taking the punishment you deserve. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only thing that makes it possible for God to forgive us of our sins so that we can have peace with Him now and throughout all eternity.

Third, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and sin’s consequences by believing that He died, was buried, and rose again, and receiving Him into your life by faith. Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you accept Jesus Christ into your heart, you will begin a relationship with God that will last for eternity. If you place your faith and trust in Him, He will give you peace no matter what is happening in your life or in the world because you will know that He is ultimately in control and that your eternal future is secure. If you want to begin this relationship right now, you can pray a short prayer to let God know that you have decided to trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Please repeat after me and mean it from your heart.

Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today and forever so that I can have your peace and assurance about my life today and my eternal future. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”.

Believe by faith. Share the faith. And keep the faith! God Bless You!