About Elliot

I’m Elliot Gavin Keenan.

I’m an author of creative nonfiction and a PhD student at UCLA, where I research bipolar disorder and autism. I’m autistic (diagnosed in childhood) and I’ve lived with bipolar 1 disorder for 14 years (since I was about 10 years old). My interests include Pokémon, board games, and cats.

My research so far looks at quantitative models to explain patterns of affect (emotions/mood) and cognition in the contexts of autism and bipolar disorder, respectively. For example, I found that higher levels of repetitive cognition (“sticky thinking”) seen in autism were associated with more depression symptoms, just as one would expect to find with rumination (which is a specific type of negative repetitive thinking), even though the sticky thinking we saw in people with more autistic traits was not necessarily negative. In my sample, the higher levels of sticky thinking statistically explained the higher levels of depression seen in people with more autistic traits. I concluded that further studies should examine the role of sticky thinking in depression in autism — high levels of sticky thinking may predispose autistic people to depression in the first place, or an increase in sticky thinking may be a sign of depression in autistic people. My current research attempts to predict mood in bipolar disorder.

Facts about me:

  • Kay Redfield Jamison (author of An Unquiet Mind) is one of my personal heroes. She inspired me to become a psychologist.
  • My favorite color is blue, specifically lighter shades of it, but I like red and green tinted hues equally.
  • One of my favorite books is Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
  • My cat’s name is Tarot. She’s 9 years old and very lazy. She loves food, napping in bed, and snuggles.
  • Some of my favorite Pokémon are (in no particular order) Smeargle, Jolteon, Toxtricity, Minccino, Chandelure, Raichu, Rotom, and Porygon-Z.
  • My favorite Pokémon games are HeartGold/SoulSilver, Black/White, XD: Gale of Darkness for the GameCube, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game video game for Game Boy Color.
  • I collect Nintendo handheld consoles. My prized possession is a genuine Pikachu Game Boy SP sold to me at Toys R Us in 2005. I played it all the time as a kid, but it is still in excellent condition today. I also have a modified original Game Boy, a Game Boy Advance in Glacier (translucent blue), a Dialga/Palkia DS Lite, a Pikachu/Eevee Switch, and a Game Boy Micro with all 3 original faceplates (silver/fire/camo).
  • I play Commander/EDH format Magic: the Gathering at a comic book shop in Santa Monica (Hi De Ho Comics), where I usually play Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Animar, Soul of Elements.

I think that I still have it in my heart someday to paint a bookshop with the front yellow and pink in the evening…like a light in the midst of the darkness.

Vincent van Gogh
A short video I made to introduce myself on YouTube