The Death of an Actor

Late Career Change: Never too late to Reinvent Yourself

EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of National Doctors’ Day, coming up at the end of the month, starting Monday, March 25, MedLearn Media will be honoring five individuals with profiles of their fine work in the field of healthcare and medicine. Today’s honoree is H. Steven Moffic, MD.

There was a collective pause as the nation stood in shock and disbelief.

Internationally recognized actor and comedian Robin Williams had taken his own life. The autopsy revealed that Williams had diffused Lewy body disease.

Personally, I had been a huge fan of Williams, admiring his quick ad-libs and pointed barbs, rendered humorously, and always on target. Once, I was in the same dark dining room in La Jolla, Calif., where Williams and his family were dining. I watched with awe at his politeness to the wait staff, and nobody appeared to intrude on this intimate family meal.

As the publisher of ICD10monitor, I wanted a psychiatrist to come on the next live edition of Talk Ten Tuesdays and help our growing audience understand the clinical and psychiatric issues surrounding suicide. Williams’s death was announced on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.

What followed was a weeklong, cross-country telephone journey. I called nearly every healthcare association, asking if someone there could be on the Talk Ten Tuesdays broadcast for Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Although everyone with whom I spoke expressed disbelief and sadness about Williams’s death, no one was available to speak about suicide.

Finally, late on Friday afternoon, Aug. 15, someone referred me to a retired psychiatrist who was also known as an excellent writer: H. Steven Moffic, MD.

Moffic’s wife, Rusti, answered my phone call and quickly passed the phone to Dr. Moffic. He and his wife were vacationing in the greater Boston area, but without hesitation, he immediately agreed to be on the Talk Ten Tuesdays broadcast.

From that propitious phone call through nearly 100 segments of “The Mental Health Report,” Moffic has become a personal friend, confidant, and my guide during my grief-ridden months following the unexpected loss of my wife in 2019.

Transcending the personal connection with Dr. Moffic, he has helped our audience better understand the psychiatric issues associated with transgender individuals. At the time, ICD10monitor and Talk Ten Tuesdays were among only a few healthcare news and information sources reporting on what seemed to be a surge of popular TV interest in the world of transgendered individuals – think the Netflix hit series “Orange is the New Black.”

Recently, Dr. Moffic, who has long appreciated the interest shown to the topic of mental health on ICD10monitor and Talk Ten Tuesdays, said that he decided early in his teenage years to become a physician.

“In particular, (I became) a psychiatrist after reading Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams when I was 15,” Dr. Moffic wrote in an email to RACmonitor.

“Probably my mother was the biggest influence, and, as I later learned, I was sort of a replacement for her older brother, who died right after medical school from Hodgkin’s Disease. I still have my medical license, but don’t see patients – just write, speak, and serve on boards.” In response to the Covid pandemic, Dr. Moffic has been writing a weekday daily column for Psychiatric Times, “Psychiatric Views on The Daily News” and a complementary weekly video. “Psychiatry and Society”. He is to receive the Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association of Social Psychiatry at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association on May 6, 2024 in New York.

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Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of RACmonitor and is the program host and executive producer of Monitor Monday.

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