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Buzz Aldrin, Ph.D. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) - Not Really Bipolar

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Updated August 27, 2012

Buzz Aldrin Central Press / Getty Images

Family:

Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. (aka Buzz) was born in Montclair, New Jersey on January 20, 1930, to Marion Moon & Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Sr. He has been married three times: Joan Archer, Beverly Zile, and he married his current wife, Lois Driggs Cannon, on Valentine's Day in 1988. He has three children of his own - James, Janice, and Andrew – with an extended family of three additional children from his third marriage. He is also a grandfather.

Education:

Aldrin received his BA from West Point Military Academy in 1951. He received his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in 1962.

Career Highlights:

  • He flew 66 combat missions during the Korean War.
  • He developed the Manned Space Rendezvous techniques still used by NASA today.
  • Aldrin was one of the earliest astronauts accepted in the NASA program.
  • On the Gemini 12 mission, he broke the record for extravehicular activity by sending 5 ½ hours outside the craft.
  • He and Neil Armstrong were the first two humans to walk on the moon.
  • In 1993, Buzz received a patent for his design of a permanent space station.

Literature:

  • Reaching for the Moon with Wendell Minor (Harper Collins, June 2005)
  • The Return with John Barnes (Forge Books, 2000)
  • Encounter with Tiber with John Barnes (Warner Books, 1996)
  • Men from Earth with Malcolm McConnell (Bantam Books,1989)
  • Return to Earth with Wayne Warga (Bantam Books, 1973)

Fun Fact:

MTV’s Video Music Award "Moonman" as well as their original station identification were based on images of Buzz from his moon landing.

Awards:

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Robert J. Collier Trophy
  • Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy
  • Harmon International Trophy
  • Presidential appointee on the Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry
  • And more than 50 others

Regarding Bipolar Disorder:

The name of Buzz Aldrin appears on one list after another of celebrities with bipolar disorder. However, in reviewing actual interviews and biographies on the topic of his struggles with mental illness, Buzz only specifically addresses depression and alcoholism.

Dr. Robert Epstein interviewed Buzz Aldrin for an article in Psychology Today. During this discussion, Buzz told Dr. Epstein that “What I felt was depression. There were also family situations developing at that time. My life was moving in one direction, and my family was going in the other. That eventually led to a divorce and the split up of the family. But there was another trait that had been hidden. Everyone was drinking, and I was too.”

In an article entitled “Three Voyagers to the Moon: Life After Making History on TV” for the July 17, 1994, edition of the New York Times, John Noble Wilford addressed Buzz Aldrin’s emotional difficulties that developed after his historic space flights. Wilford wrote, “Mr. Aldrin’s problems began almost immediately as he struggled to adjust to life in the limelight. This made him increasingly uncomfortable, which led to erratic behavior and eventually depression and alcoholism … In any event, he was hospitalized for severe depression” (p. 21).

Of significant note is the fact that Aldrin is a true hero, a fantastic example of perseverance and achievement. “Buzz Aldrin accomplished an even bigger feat than walking on the moon - overcoming alcoholism and depression” (Epstein, 2001). Of this success Aldrin states, “Recovery was not easy. Perhaps the most challenging turnaround was accepting the need for assistance and help. Looking back at it now--with over 22 years of sobriety--this was probably one of my greatest challenges. But it has also been one of the most satisfying because it has given me a sense of comfort and ease with where I am now” (Epstein, 2001).

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