Emily McManus in TED:
Surgeon, author and speaker Sherwin Nuland died on March 3, 2014, at age 83. The author of a dozen books — including the award-winning How We Die, a clear-eyed look at life’s last chapter — Nuland came to TED in 2001 to tell a story he’d never told before. The world-renowned surgeon, clinical professor of surgery at Yale and best-selling author began his talk with a history of mental health and mental illness … and gradually began to weave in his own story, of a depression so crippling, so impossible to shift, that in his 40s he was in line for a lobotomy. But his young doctor made a bold suggestion, and then stuck to it in the face of widespread doubt: Nuland would try electric shock therapy.
It’s a stunning talk. TED’s own Tom Rielly, who saw the talk live, remembers:
“Sherwin’s talk took us on a journey into the hell of his darkest depression and his improbable journey back. From literally sleeping in the gutter to recovering his life via a caring young doctor who kept him from being lobotomized, Nuland’s powerful storytelling nearly stopped the Monterey conference room from breathing, and then ultimately allowed a tearful catharsis. Nuland affected me more powerfully than any talk before or since. Having lived with the illness for more than 30 years I know how easily it could have been I who was prostrate on the street. I will always be grateful to him for showing me the power of honesty even about the things that terrify.”