How can we all lead more emotionally healthy and fulfilling lives? What’s the secret – and is there a secret – to emotional and mental well-being, and happiness, according to those who study it and those who experience it? It turns out that connecting with others may be a huge part of it. But for many children and adults who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders – including Asperger’s syndrome – connecting with others can be a constant challenge.
The upcoming series, This Emotional Life (January 4-6, 2010) examines happiness, social connections, and mental resilience – and includes the story of Jason, a 29-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome. In this clip from first episode of the series, Jason shares insight about his trouble connecting with other people: (Watch HERE.)
Here’s a Q&A from Dyllan McGee, executive producer from Kunhardt McGee Productions and one of the show’s executive producers, about why the series is important, what’s in it, and how it can help people live more fulfilling lives. Here’s the trailer: (Watch HERE.)
Q: Why did you think it was important to produce a series like this now?
A: This is the first time a TV experience has really probed deeply into the entire life cycle and range of complex emotional issues that impact all people. Research now shows us that the real key to happiness and resilience doesn’t lie in what we own or buy, but it is made up of so many social attachments and our perspectives on scenarios, among other things. That’s incredibly powerful information to know and to share with others – particularly during a time like this when so many people are really suffering from a lot of stress and anxiety due to the economy.
Q: Why did you want to include a story about someone who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome?
A: So much of our series is focused on the idea that happiness and emotional satisfaction are linked with the quality of our attachments and connections with other people. We wanted to showcase stories about interesting people – like Jason, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – who experience challenges in making these kinds of connections. We wanted to explore and highlight the kind of social and family support that’s so important to people like Jason in our society. He shared some important things about his life and experiences – like his difficulty reading people’s emotions, and how that impacts his relationships. The whole point is to raise awareness and start conversations – and we’re grateful to Jason and his family for sharing their story.
Q: Do you think the show can help people?
A: Absolutely – our main goal in producing this project was to help people. We included a great cross-section of the latest science, interesting insight from well-known entertainers and writers, and a lot of inspiring and thought-provoking stories from real people in extraordinary situations.
Check out the “Perspectives” feature of the This Emotional Life Web site, with video clips, behind-the-scenes interviews, and blogs from celebrities, experts, and amazing real people featured in the project. From autism to happiness to PTSD and resilience, “Perspectives” connects people with stories and conditions and expert insight that’s only available here. www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/perspectives