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John Hawkins

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March 30, 2012 - 12:20 am
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2) Howard Hughes: Withdraw into Mental Illness.

Famous, politically well-connected, and extraordinarily wealthy, Howard Hughes directed hit movies, built airplanes, and broke flight records. He married a gorgeous actress named Jean Peters, and seemed to live the life of dreams.

But physical injuries from an airplane crash ruined his health, he began to give in to mental illness, and eventually Hughes withdrew from the world and surrounded himself with “yes men” who did whatever he asked, no matter how weird. Over time Hughes, who was one of the most famous and important men in the country, grew so isolated that many people concluded he was terminally ill or even dead. To the contrary, Hughes declined further into mental illness, paranoia, and quirkiness. In time his wife, supposedly the only woman he ever loved, filed for divorce. She could only talk to him by phone for years. After Hughes died, one of the most admired men of the last century looked so unrecognizable that investigators needed fingerprints to identify him because his 6’4″ frame had withered down to 90 pounds and he had a shaggy beard along with grotesque, long fingernails.

After a bad marriage or a betrayal from a friend, it can be easy to lose faith in people and withdraw to keep from being hurt. Big mistake. You can listen to all the songs you want telling you that you’re a rock, but that doesn’t make it so. Human beings are social animals and we need connections with others for health and happiness.

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