Monday, April 21, 2008

MSNBC: In search of the good old nervous breakdown

Everyone from actors to housewives used to have them, so what were they?

By Roni Caryn Rabin
MSNBC contributor

When Joe Livernois was a child, his father sometimes spent days racing around giddily and talking non-stop — then he'd crash, become severely depressed, withdraw into his room and spend most of his time sleeping.

If anyone talked about his father’s increasingly erratic behavior, they said he was “having a nervous breakdown,” said Livernois, now a 54-year-old editor at the Monterey (Calif.) Herald, who recently wrote a series of columns about his father.

"‘Nervous breakdown’ was the malady everybody was suffering at the time. I guess it was a polite way of saying, ‘Your father’s just not right,'" he said. "There wasn’t a lot of knowledge, and this was the 1950s, 1960s, the Eisenhower-Kennedy era, when a whole lot of stuff got swept under the rug.”

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