When Elyn Saks was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia as a young women, the doctors gave her a prognosis of “grave”. In other words, at best she could expect to live in residential care, and work at menial jobs.
Today, Elyn Saks is Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; and Faculty at the New Center for Psychoanalysis.
She’s the author of four books related to mental health, including her best-selling 2007 memoir “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness“.
In 2009 she was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation, a $500,000 prize commonly referred to as the genius grant, which she used to establish the Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics, at USC, and her 2012 TED talk “A tale of mental illness – from the inside“, is fast approaching 3 million views. There’s even an opera based on her memoir.
In today’s episode we discuss what it like to have schizophrenia, the nature and content of delusions and hallucinations, Elyn’s experience in psychiatric hospitals in both the US and UK and how they differed, the stigma associated with schizophrenia and whether or not the name should be changed to something less stigmatizing, we talk about Elyn’s study of high functioning people with schizophrenia, such as PhD candidates, teachers, CEOs, and how a parrot played a pivotal role in Elyn eventually finding love.
Elyn’s Website: The Saks Institute
Special thanks to Chris Schneider, Program Associate at the Saks Institute, for fixing all our technical glitches while recording.
Elyn’s Recommended Links
Supported decision-making for people with mental illness – Saks Institute research
Bring Change 2 Mind – Non-profit organization working together to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness
Books Mentioned in This Episode