Search Results For maria bamford

Mental Illness As Material

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 26 2012 @ 8:31pm

Jaime Lutz fears that many young comedians "are romanticizing their mental illness; that they see it as the source of their power":

If you go regularly to open mic nights and indie improv shows, you will notice certain archetypes of struggling comedians: the panicky over-talkers, the undeservedly confident, the oblivious raging misogynist. But most prominent of all, to my eye, is the guy who is doing this because he is sad.

This guy imagines himself (and it is usually a "himself") a darkly funny truth-teller. And indeed, he is being honest about his feelings. But he hasn't yet grasped what's funny about his situation. He's just an asshole, standing on stage, making people uncomfortable with explicit details about his sex addiction. 

She goes on:

Damaged comedians who haven't dealt with their issues are like premises without punchlines: all tension, no relief. No surprise. No funny.

On the other hand, Nathan Rabin points out how comedian Maria Bamford has not only been able to use her personal battles with mental illness for material, but also to raise awareness and  destigmatize mental illnesses for others:

[Bamford's new direct-to-Internet comedy special, Special Special Special,] begins dark—even a bit about professional glutton Paula Deen quickly takes a sinister, despairing turn—and grows progressively darker until Bamford is baring her psychological scars in a heartbreaking closing segment that transforms a prolonged, public battle with suicidal depression, compulsive thinking, anxiety, and institutionalization in a nightmarish mental hospital into cathartic, pitch-black comedy. Bamford lays it all out here, addressing the horrors of aging in a culture and a business that worships youth, the paralyzing fear of dying alone or never finding anyone, and most profoundly, the agony of mental illness. Special is particularly scathing and righteous when attacking the double standards of a society that refuses to afford the mentally ill the same concern it affords people afflicted with other forms of illness. She’s uncharacteristically blunt when taking on the stigma still associated with diseases of the mind rather than the body.

Exiting The Anxiety Closet

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2015 @ 5:14pm

Maria Bamford, a Dish fave, exited through comedy:

Scott Stossel reflects on his decision to open up about his chronic anxiety:

I revealed my anxiety and … the world didn’t end. Did friends and colleagues talk about me behind my back? Maybe. Probably. (O.K., definitely.) But for the most part people didn’t seem to treat me any differently — and to the extent that they did, it was to express sympathy or empathy and even admiration for my “bravery” in revealing my vulnerability. (This always struck me as odd because I was being brave only in revealing my lack of bravery, which is a cheap sort of bravery indeed.)

Many people — friends, colleagues, strangers — came forward to share their own stories of anxiety, and to say that my publicly revealing my anxiety somehow made them feel more hopeful, or less alone, and sometimes less anxious. This made me feel good, though I found it ironic that my writing about my anxiety seemed to reduce other people’s anxiety more than it did my own.

I’m still anxious. I still have bad episodes. I remain (lightly, for the most part) medicated. But Dr. W. was right: Coming out as anxious has helped. It has been a relief not always to have to do “impression management,” as Dr. W. calls it. I don’t — or don’t always, anyway — feel a desperate compulsion to hide the anxiety that sometimes overtakes me.

Joseph Burgo shares his experiences using telemedicine in his therapy practice:

No doubt it would be better if my clients and I were able to meet in my office week after week, me inviting them in from my waiting room at the beginning of each session and ushering them out through the exit door at the end. But for people who live in remote locations where qualified professional help is scarce or entirely unavailable, connecting with a therapist by Skype is often the best option. Over the last few years, I’ve worked with an American expat living in Japan, a Ukrainian émigré in Israel, and the scion of a wealthy family in Egypt. I’ve held Skype sessions with people located in remote corners of the United States, England, Australia, and other countries. They had few options for getting the help they needed. …

The legality of Skype therapy is a gray area because most state laws require the professional to hold a license in the state where the client resides. Because I was trained as a psychoanalyst, and psychoanalysis is not a regulated profession in most states, I skirt such licensing laws by offering my services in that capacity. Some therapists call themselves “life coaches” when they work across state lines; others simply ignore the law. The arrival of distance therapy and telemedicine is rapidly rendering state-by-state licensure impractical. As usual, the law lags far behind technical innovation.

Todd Essig points out drawbacks to Skype therapy:

Are being bodies together and technologically-mediated simulations of being bodies together functionally equivalent, at least for the purposes of the psychoanalytic psychotherapy practiced by both Burgo and me?

According to a soon to be published book by Gillian Isaacs Russell titled Screen Relations: The Limits of Computer-Mediated Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy the answer is a resounding no (disclosure: I wrote the Foreword for this fine volume). In fact, after this book hits the shelves patients and therapists alike will need to be attentive both to the obvious gains from screen relations based treatment and the inevitable losses. Russell effectively demolishes the myth of functional equivalence using her ethnographic study of therapists and patients who have experienced Skype therapy along with lab findings from cognitive and neuro-science, communication studies, infant observation, and human–computer interaction, as well as a deep dive into clinical theory,

According to Russell, in an exchange we had about the Burgo article, when you eliminate the experience of being bodies together you constrain and limit what is therapeutically possible to “‘states of mind’ rather than ‘states of being.’” As a result, reflective introspection gets narrowed. How reflective can one really be when talking to a dashboard iPhone on a long drive?

Previous Dish on telemedicine here. In other therapy news, Tina Rosenberg flags research on providing mental health care to those in developing nations:

Two years ago, I wrote about a research study in 2002 that provided group interpersonal therapy, led by college students and high school graduates with two weeks’ training, to depressed women in Ugandan villages. The treatment was so effective that six months after starting this therapy, only 6 percent of those treated still had major depression.

More recently, similar work has gone on in South Asia. In rural Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the Thinking Healthy Program taught basic cognitive behavioral therapy for only two days to female community health workers with a high school education. The trainees, called Lady Health Workers, then integrated the therapy into their regular visits with pregnant women and new mothers. … Six months later, only 3 percent of those treated were still depressed. The largest study was in Goa, India, where local people with no health background were given an eight-week course in interpersonal psychotherapy and worked with physicians to treat patients with mental health disorders. This, too, was very successful.

These studies were proof that depression could be treated in poor countries by lay people. Now these researchers are trying to figure out how to streamline these interventions to the minimum outlay of resources needed to maintain excellent results.

Lastly, some somewhat lighter fare – Amanda Bloom covers a popular podcast from comedian Paul Gilmartin:

Gilmartin, 51, is the creator and host of The Mental-Illness Happy Hour, a weekly two-hour trudge to the darkest—and most joyful—corners of the human condition. He records the podcast in his hometown of Los Angeles, and the show is built around interviews with celebrities, artists, therapists, and podcast listeners; anonymous surveys; and Gilmartin’s narration of his own struggles with depression, addiction, and overcoming sexual abuse. Thirty-five thousand people download the podcast each week, and some episodes—interviews he’s held with Marc Maron, Maria Bamford, and Adam Carolla, for example—have been downloaded more than 80,000 times. The Mental-Illness Happy Hour website is home to an active listener forum, and the show’s 200th episode aired on November 21.

The podcast serves as a place of community and affirmation for those who struggle with mental illness, including Gilmartin, who has been undergoing treatment for clinical depression since 1999 and has gained clarity on his own issues through talking with his guests and corresponding with his listeners. It was while interviewing comedian Danielle Koenig during episode 16 of the podcast that Gilmartin realized on-air that he had been molested by a neighbor as a young boy, and the revelation that he was a survivor of incest began its slow simmer while talking with radio personality Phil Hendrie on episode 59. …

Levity and humor also keep the podcast from being overwhelmingly heavy, and listeners can expect a dick joke every now and again, in between tales of binge eating, drug dealing and coping mechanisms.

Wisecracker Of Woe

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 19 2014 @ 9:34pm

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Sara Corbett spotlights comic and Dish fave Maria Bamford (NYT):

Much of Bamford’s work examines the relationship between “people” – generally well-intentioned friends and family – and those who grapple with depression or anxiety or any other challenge to the psyche. Her act is a series of monologues and mini-skits performed rapid fire and often without regard for transition. Deploying a range of deadpan voices, she mimics the faux-enlightened who hover around the afflicted, offering toothless platitudes (“You just need to get out in nature”), bootstrapping pep talks (“It’s all about attitude. You gotta want it!”) or concern warped by self-interest (“You’d think you’d just stop vomiting for me and the kids”).

The humor of any given moment relies not so much on punch lines as it does on the impeccably timed swerves of her tone, the interplay between Bamford’s persona and those of all the people who don’t get her. Often, she is demonstrating helplessness on both sides. “We love you, Maria,” Bamford says, imitating her 69-year-old Midwestern mother, Marilyn, in one of her recorded performances, heaving a fed-up sigh. “We love you, we love you, but it’s hard to be around you.”

Previous Dish on Bamford here and here.

(Video: Part one of wonderfully well-done The Program, a new series by Bamford and Melinda Hill)

The Maria Bamford Show is the brainchild of standup comic Maria Bamford, whose sensibility is, according to Madeleine Davies, “as unique as it is necessary”:

Perhaps what’s most special about Bamford’s goofy, surreal and stylized brand of humor is that it doesn’t end up seeming stylized at all. At times, she comes off as so intensely fragile and vulnerable that you want to hug her and tell her that everything will be alright. Then, with remarkable skill, she’ll flip it around and force you to stare your own reaction in the face — why do you assume that there’s something wrong with a person who gets on stage and says something hard and honest? Why should that kind of bravery be perceived as weakness that needs comforting rather than empathy?

Check out more of her work on the series “Ask My Mom!” here and here. She also appears in the new season of Arrested Development alongside Anus Tart. Previous Dish on Bamford here.