Friday, March 28, 2008

Roget's tragedy

I just read a Reuter's Health story about Peter Mark Roget of the eponymous thesaurus fame. If you've ever had mental illness in your family and wondered what it might have been like in the days when there were no good treatments, this story will really touch you. It makes me very sad to think about someone dealing with these issues and the hopelessness he must have felt. His way out of the pain was to make lists of words. You could say that obsessive-compulsive disorder was his own form of mental illness, but it sounds like a basic coping strategy to me, given his situation. An excerpt from the article:
His mother suffered dark depressions and tried to dominate his life. His sister and daughter had severe mental problems, his father and wife died young and a beloved uncle committed suicide in his arms.

So what did Peter Mark Roget, the creator of Roget's Thesaurus, do to handle all the pain, grief, sorrow, affliction, woe, bitterness, unhappiness and misery in a life that lasted over 90 years?

He made lists.

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