Robin Williams’ widow doesn’t believe the kinetic comic genius killed himself. At least Williams’s death doesn’t fit the common perception of suicide, with depression darkening hope until it finally eclipses it. No, Susan Williams believes that her late husband suffered from Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) that caused him to end his life. Williams, according to CNN, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. But Susan Williams asserts that this was a misdiagnosis — a common error in people afflicted with LBD.
The Mayo Clinic describes Lewy Body Dementia as the “second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.” Among the terrifying symptoms the Mayo Clinic describes is this: “[LBD] may also cause visual hallucinations, which generally take the form of objects, people or animals that aren’t there.” It generally affects sleep patterns, alertness, motor control, balance, the ability to think, and memory — like some especially cruel combination of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The Lewy Body Dementia Association says the disease, though often misdiagnosed, affects appproximately 1.4 million Americans. LBD is named after the neurologist Friederich H. Lewy, who in 1912 discovered what are now called Lewy body proteins that disrupt brain function.