The Great God of Depression

In 1998, a brain scientist named Alice Flaherty developed a rare form of madness. She felt so compelled to write that she scrawled sentences across the walls of her house and her own skin. Alice’s quest to understand her own bizarre behavior led her to William Styron, one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century.

Styron had documented his own suicidal depression in a memoir that transformed modern psychiatry. Styron seemed like a remote genius -- until one day, he showed up in Alice's office, begging for help. Could Alice save Styron from a depressive relapse and the pathological writers block that had silenced him?

 
 
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Chapter One: The Night Kingdom

After a personal tragedy, newly minted neurologist Alice Flaherty falls into a rabbit hole of mania, delusions and creative overload - and encounters a famous writer who revolutionized the conversation about mental illness.

 

Chapter Two: The Angel of Death

On the heels of enormous literary success, author William Styron experiences a near-fatal depression and emerges as a defender of the mentally ill. Neurologist Alice Flaherty tries to balance a rare mental disorder with the birth of her healthy twins.

 
 William Styron and Rose Styron

William Styron and Rose Styron

Chapter Three: The Stolen Brain

After writing a revolutionary memoir, William Styron declares he has beaten depression, but he is wrong. A frightening repeat of madness and writers block brings on shame and desperate measures. He seeks help from brilliant neurologist Alice Flaherty, who has herself admitted to being “openly crazy.” Can she save him?

 

Chapter Four: The White Whale

William Styron could never finish the war novel that was meant to be his masterpiece. Did that failure lead to his final depression? Or did depression stop him from writing? He and his doctor Alice Flaherty pore over the question together, trying to ward off his suicidal fears and a baffling paralysis, until his wife makes an unconventional and risky suggestion.

 

Chapter Five: The Shining World

In the final episode, after years of struggle with depression, William Styron keeps his bargain with his readers, and his wife manages to keep up his will to live until the very end. Alice Flaherty emerges from her own years of madness to a happier life, albeit a less literary one.