Mental illness: read Konrad Marshall

Dateline: Fri 24 Apr 2009

Bill Sherwood, an acquaintance and a therapist, noted that the most instructive lessons on alcoholism and its effect on family life were not to be found in any social sciences text, but in Thomas Wolfe's novel, "Look Homeward Angel."

In the same light, Konrad Marshall's front page story in this morning's Star on a young artist's struggle with bipolar disorder is one of the best explanations of mental illness I've read in a daily.

The subject, Brian Duff, a talented artist whose work will be featured in the annual April Show tonight, "begins writing a poem and believes he is the subject," says Marshall. "He takes on a Scottish accent. He thinks he is the long-lost son of Bob Dylan.

"'It's not a meltdown,' Duff explained. "It's more like....a mental manifestation of a physical, chemical cause. Very often I'll start having creative ideas, but pretty soon I start living in those ideas."

Really, a remarkable story, and what a proud pleasure it is to see it get Page One play. Marshall gets all the credit, but many of us are also grateful for Brian Duff's insights and for thoughts shared by his father John Duff.

Read it.

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