Where the inspirational figure is selected for us, and the gap between their life and ours is too great, the effect is not one of encouragement but of disillusionment – especially if their story is told in terms of personal qualities like bravery or persistence.
Knowing a famous person has the same impairment as you can be reassuring, but only in the vague way that hearing of a successful distant relative is reassuring.
Most of us will never scale Everest, compete for our country at sports or have a showbiz career.
This does Not mean we’ve failed … !
For BBC’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Mark Brown questions the valueof glorifying role models who share our own disabilities and pathologies.
A flipside of the same coin to consider is the perilous “tortured genius” myth of creativity, which implies that depression, addiction, and other mental health issues that plagued some successful creators were central to their genius.
In my opinion, the human antidotes to this mythology are worthy role models.