Louis Theroux: By Reason Of Insanity

Right then, hands up if you watched Louis Theroux last night.

*surveys sea of hands*

Pretty good wasn’t it?

I’m a big fan. He has a wonderful way about him where he manages to get people to say honest and shocking things at the same time as making them feel like he might be on their side. It’s brilliant journalism and I watch with a mix of fascination and a slight envy at his skill.

I read a review this morning on The Guardian website that described Louis as ‘not looking out of place in a psychiatric hospital’. The author talks about a scene by a vending machine in which Louis could, apparently, be mistaken for another patient. “Seemingly put-out by the caffeine ban,” the author writes, “he paces in an agitated way. “I guess I’ll get water for now, is that what you’re getting?” he goes on, as if looking for some kind of reassurance or approval.”

Louis Theroux by reason of insanity

I feel like he is missing the point. Is this not exactly why Louis Theroux is such a brilliant writer and journalist? It’s because he is able to empathise with such a wide variety of people, to connect with them on a personal level, that they share their stories with him. It’s no accident that he appears to fit in so well – this is his talent. I would love to be interviewed by him; you get the feeling that you would learn a lot about yourself in the process.

The show itself was fascinating, the stories heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to contemplate the horror of believing your own parent was the source of your unhappiness, to the extent you felt compelled to kill them – the emotional distress is unimaginable. How do you come to terms with a crime like that? How difficult must it be to disconnect yourself from your illness and forgive yourself for something that horrific?

What do you make of Louis Theroux?

Image credit – Louis Theroux: Featureflash/Shutterstock

13 Comments

  1. 23 March, 2015 / 11:18 am

    It was certainly an interesting watch. I felt really uncomfortable with the doctors in it and completely agree that the way Louis spoke to the patients there was so much more insightful and helpful. I’m not sure if it’s just the US or the same everywhere but their solution to the problems these people faced just seemed to be to turn them in to drug addicts who are even further from reality that they ever where in the first place. That poor guy they let out, he was hardly free, just turned it to a prisoner elsewhere and to other things rather than his mind. Poor confused people.

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      23 March, 2015 / 11:36 am

      Gosh yes, the amount of meds some of them were on was ridiculous wasn’t it? They were clearly suffering from it too on a physical level. With some of them it felt a little like they had been brainwashed by the doctors. Not fun.

  2. 23 March, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    i adore louis, and what makes him great – like you say – is his way with empathy. he doesn’t put people down and he doesn’t make situations about him. i haven’t watched this yet, but i’ve watched everything else he’s done, and i’m sure this will certainly measure up.

  3. 23 March, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Brilliant! I missed this and will catch up tonight. Having not seen it I’m speaking out of turn but isn’t that the point so many people are suffering with few external indicators, we have to be much more open to mental illness and what ‘it’ may look like.

  4. 23 March, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    I am a massive Louis fan and now i’m gutted that I missed last night. I’m going to catch up on iplayer tonight.

  5. Maisie Moo
    23 March, 2015 / 3:37 pm

    One of my favourite parts was when one of the patients said he liked talking to Louis, as Louis asked him questions that no one else had thought to ask him. For instance, did he love his Dad? Such a simple question and so relevant to why the man was in the hospital in the first place! It seemed that you’re not always seen as a human being anymore with thoughts and feelings and emotions. One of the patients’ mums freaked me out a bit, though. And I thought the religion element was an interesting one, having been brought up in a very strict religion and leaving it in adult life, and seeing the way it affects people.

  6. 23 March, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    I have recorded this and didn’t see the article but I would happily shout at anyone saying bad things about Louis! I love him, he is so talented and the way he can speak to anyone in any situation and get them to relate to him and trust him enough to tell them things is a skill that not many people possess. He’s a genius! x

  7. 23 March, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    I didn’t even realise this was on! I love him – have been a massive fan of all his work. His Weird Weekends were brilliant. Will watch it on catch-up.

  8. 23 March, 2015 / 11:15 pm

    I love Louis! I had no idea he had a new show on (such is my love for him), I’m off to watch it now, thank you! xx

  9. 24 March, 2015 / 3:55 pm

    I’ve not seen it but your description of him rings true. His is a rare talent.

  10. 30 March, 2015 / 11:31 am

    yes agree it was remarkable and heartbreaking. an achievement just to get into the institutions, let alone ask questions which you might think would disturb the patients themselves. he does fit in well to the environment, frighteningly would I do so too? how brave was the patient’s Mum to answer those questions!

    • Jo Middleton
      Author
      30 March, 2015 / 5:16 pm

      The mum was amazing wasn’t she? The parents must both be incredible people to be able to forgive and move on from that – no matter how much you wanted to, it would be such a hard thing to do.

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