An interview with Jed
Suffering from manic-depression, Morris Diamond
first attempted suicide in 1949 when his son, Jed,
was only six-years-old. This traumatic event was an
impetus for the boy to one day become an expert in
dealing with male depression.
Jed Diamond has been actively involved in men's
work for more than 24 years and written a number of
books including Surviving
Male Menopause and The
Whole Man Program.. The Irritable Male Syndrome
will be published next year by Rodale Press.
He is currently on the board of advisors for the
Men's Health Network, on the Scientific Advisory
Board of The World Congress, plus he works with The
International Society of Aging Males.
He has a Masters degree in social work and is
currently working on his Ph.D. in International
Health - a new discipline that studies health
practices around the world. His dissertation is on
His father's story is a troubling and poignant
tale of a man who was put in a state mental
hospital and treated for schizophrenia, including
Electro-shock therapy. Unfortunately, Morris was
misdiagnosed. He was manic-depressive.
"After seven years in there, he escaped one
night after a visit with my uncle," Jed recalled.
"After that he changed his name and never came
Before this incident, Morris had been a
struggling writer and actor in New York City.
"He met my mother and they married on her
birthday, October 5, 1934 after a somewhat stormy
courtship period," Jed noted. "When all the money
ran out they would invite friends and acquaintances
to their small apartment and my father would put on
a show with readings from Shakespeare, his own
poetry or short stories. The price of admission was
a can of food."
Most of what Jed knew of his father's early
years was derived from reading journal entries.
Morris wrote this about his son, Jed:
"He has a wonderful impishness, a beautiful
delightful growth about him. He has a suppleness of
mind and body, a rapt attention as he looks for
animals and calls to them."
Morris described his exalting highs and
"I feel full confidence in my writing ability. I
know for certain that someone will buy one of my
radio shows. I know for certain that I will get a
good part in a play. Last night I dreamt about
candy. There was more candy than I could eat. Does
it mean I'll be rewarded for all my efforts?"
Then later he writes:
"Your flesh crawls, your scalp wrinkles when you
look around and see good writers, established
writers, writers with credits a block long, unable
to sell, unable to find work. Yes, it's enough to
make anyone blanch, turn pale and sicken."
On a Sunday morning in early November Morris was
feeling particularly depressed.
"My hope and my life stream are both running
desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold
my breath in fear, believing that the dark, blank
curtain is about to descend."
Six days later he tried to kill himself. Because
of his manic-depressive illness and lack of
adequate treatment, Jed said his father was "never
able to actualize his potential to flower and
Through his sickness, however, his creative
juices, continued to flow.
"My father couldn't go back into the arts
[in New York] because people were looking
for him after he escaped from what he described as
a 'prison,'" Jed continued. "So he became a street
puppeteer in California.
For 40 years he worked putting on puppet shows
at gatherings on University campuses.
"He showed up at my college graduation in Santa
Barbara," Jed said. "It was scary to see him out
there and then he disappeared like some dramatic
film screen moment."
Jed tried for many years to find his father
through his relatives in Florida.
"I was back in the Bay area one day," Jed
recounted. "I'm waiting for a bus in San Francisco
to go across the bay to Marin County and as I'm
standing there day dreaming, thinking about my
visit to Florida, I missed my bus. I waited and got
on the next one. As I'm sitting there, my father
gets on at the next stop. "
"You're the Puppet Man."
"There he is, I say to myself. My God, that's
him. Should I talk to him.? I'm afraid if I do I'll
get disowned again. I was going through a lot of
ups and downs. It's about a 20 minute ride to where
I was going. I finally got up and sat down beside
him. He didn't seem to recognize me. My heart was
pounding. Finally I said, "you're the 'Puppet
Man.'" He nodded.
Thirty seconds go by in silence. He doesn't say
anything. Another 30 seconds goes by and I said
'I'd really like to connect with you again. How
about we grab a cup of coffee?' He was still
sitting there, silent. I told him I'd gotten
married and I had kids since I saw him last. I
pulled out my wallet and showed him their pictures.
He nodded 'Okay' to me. So we got off the bus. I
was meeting a friend and so I crossed the street to
tell him my father and I were getting together. As
I turn back around, I saw my father go toward the
coffee shop but he just kept on walking. I realized
then how tired I was of reaching out to him. He
walked on down two blocks then turned around and
came back, and went into the coffee shop with me.
We spent a really nice afternoon together."
"What kind of son are you?!"
When I got home later that day, there was a
message on my telephone machine from him. He
started in 'You never did anything for your father!
What kind of son are you?!' Well, I was pretty
angry and hung up on him, then called him back and
I told him 'if you keep pushing me away you'll end
up a lonely old man.' I thought he'd hang up on me.
Then he said, 'nobody's ever talked to me that way
ever, you know, you're right. I've spent my whole
life blaming other people.' Since then we kept the
connection and I saw him regularly for the next 15
Morris Diamond passed away five years ago.
"Every time he disowned me, I would be crushed,"
Jed continued. "Then I got to a point where I could
tell him the truth and know that whatever he said
wouldn't hurt me. I wasn't afraid to tell him the
truth anymore. And, I could do it in a way that
wasn't aggressive or angry."
The son was finally able to tell the father "I'm
not to blame for your unhappiness."
Jed Diamond offered this advice to men - more
specifically directed at the man doing the
"I'd erase that notion that your dad is out to
destroy you," he said. "In his pain your father's
doing things that are hurtful and destructive.
That's the only way he knows how to deal with his
pain in life. If he knew a better way to do it, he
would do it. If you see him out to destroy you it
puts you in a fearful position where you don't have
much chance of reconciliation."
"It was a great mistake my being born a man, I
would have been much more successful as a seagull
or a fish ..." --- Eugene O'Neill."
Father/son relationships can be more difficult
when there are artistic temperaments involved.
Diamond referenced Kay Redfield Jamison's book
Touched With Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the
Artistic Temperament which lists a number of
creative writers who suffered with
manic-depression, including Hans Christian
Anderson, Mark Twain, Emily Dickenson, Ralph Waldo
Emerson and Eugene O'Neill.
Diamond said he identified with a quote from
O'Neill: "It was a great mistake my being born a
man, I would have been much more successful as a
seagull or a fish, as it is I will always be a
stranger who never feels at home, who does not
really want and is not really wanted, who can never
belong and who must always be a little in love with
"Normal people" have "harder filters," Diamond
"The same hyper-sensitivity that allows an
artist to be creative, to pick up on nuances and
different ways things are connected, with the
different levels of reality ... if it goes too far
and you live it too hard, it can get inside and
Feeling too much pain of the world can be
disabling, he added.
"There's a sensitivity to a degree where we can
lose track of who we are," Diamond said. "We can be
overwhelmed and lose track of our boundaries."
Initially, Diamond acknowledged he was in denial
about his own depression for many years. Now he is
an advocate of recognizing and treating depression
with therapy and proper medication.
"I insisted that even though my father and other
relatives were depressed, it couldn't be affecting
me," he declared. "But I knew I was TOO creative -
up and down too much. It was hard to stay
"Too many men take out their depression in
anger, drugs, work or sexual behavior."
The author has been on medication now for the
past six years.
"What I found was that medication made a world
of difference in my emotions," he explained. "I
could feel connected in a creative way and also be
centered enough to write."
However, finding that right balance may take
time and effort.
"Redfield talks about how difficult it is for
men to take medication because they think it will
make them less manly or blunt their emotional
sensitivity," Diamond said. "Yoo many men take out
their depression in anger, drugs, work or sexual
behavior. Plus, we sometimes end up killing
Diamond's wounds has a child have helped him
shape his mission as an adult, authoring Surviving
Male Menopause and The
Whole Man Program.
"My purpose is to help men live long and well,"
said Jed Diamond. "That mission has directed my
activity for many years."
For more information contact Jed at www.menalive.com
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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