You know the age-old saying: you learn something new every day. In comedian Chris Rock’s case, it couldn’t ring more true, as he’s been learning more and more about himself, even at the age of 55. The “Top Five” star interviewed with “Hollywood Reporter” recently to speak on his involvement in “Fargo” and he opened up about going to therapy to deal with traumas that he thought he was over.
Rock, the oldest of seven children, opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about his childhood growing up in Brooklyn. While he’s touched on his childhood in the semi-autobiographical sit-com “Everybody Hates Chris,” he’s diving a bit deeper now. He talks about going to school in another neighborhood, where he was the only Black student, and would be the victim of rigorous racist bullying.
A young Rock would be greeted regularly with signs reading “N***er, Go Home, constantly “pummel his scrawny body”, and “ lob balloons full of piss at his head”, but wouldn’t get much more than a “suck-it-up” from his parents. “No matter what I was going through,” he says, “it paled in comparison to what my mom or my dad went through; so, there wasn’t a lot of dealing with it.”
Now at an older age and more mature space, the comedian has chosen to view those times through a different scope and has realized that fear has been his greatest motivator. Telling Hollywood Reporter how fear drove him, be it the fear of failing others, failing, etc., he admits it took a toll on him, his relationships, and “entire sense of self” confessing, “It just depletes you. I had to let it go. I was just dying, dude.”
It was this, and a friend’s suggestion that he may have Asperger’s syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, that would encourage him to take a few tests.
The results of said tests brought a diagnosis of nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD), a learning disorder where one struggles with non-verbal signals, which he explains is pretty difficult when you consider that 80 percent of communication is verbal, “and all I understand are the words”, he said.
“By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes — they’re just not great for one-on-one relationships. I’d always just chalked it up to being famous. Any time someone would respond to me in a negative way, I’d think, ‘Whatever, they’re responding to something that has to do with who they think I am.’ Now, I’m realizing it was me. A lot of it was me.”
He’s since sought the help of two therapists and happily revealed he spends seven hours per week in therapy. “I thought I was actually dealing with it, and the reality is I never dealt with it,” he went on. “The reality was the pain and the fear that that brought me, I was experiencing it every day.”