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Mental Health & Writing: A Bad Son Letter to the World

When I was a boy, I became obsessed with a Civil War officer named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. I acquired and devoured every biography written about him that I could find (there are a LOT), watched Ken Burns’s epic “The Civil War” documentary around four times (it’s eleven hours and thirty minutes) watched “Gettysburg,” featuring Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain, many, many times. I dutifully memorized facts about his pre-war life (fluent in 10 languages, sang in choir, mother wanted him to become a preacher), his military career (hero of Little Round Top, shot six times, one of only two battlefield promotions bestowed by U. S. Grant, commander of the surrender ceremony at Appomattox), his post-war endeavors (president of Bowdoin College and Governor of Maine for four terms, died in 1914) and I visited Chamberlain’s stomping grounds in Maine with my wife, years after the intensity of the obsession had, I guess, somewhat subsided.  (more…)