Elyn Saks, a professor from UCLA, speaks candidly about her experience with schizophrenia throughout her childhood, as a student at Vanderbilt, Oxford and Yale, and her career. Saks said she had “nice enough” parents and a reasonably normal childhood, but she started having phobias, night terrors and obsessions at age five. During her teen years she suffered from anorexia and had a brief bought with drug use. However, her illness really took a turn for the worse when she went away to college at Vanderbilt. At Vanderbilt Saks became interested in philosophy, which she believed gave her life order, but she still suffered from major psychotic episodes.

Saks, now associate dean of research at UCLA law school and well-known scholar on competency and the right to refuse treatments in patients with mental illness, talked about her book about her life; “The center can not hold; my journey through madness” at the UCLA Medical school grand rounds, which you can view by clicking on the link from this blog entry at schizophrenia.com. Elyn is quick to say that she’s not a person who has overcome a mental illness, but someone who has lived a full and rich life with a mental illness. Saks also goes on to say that without extensive mental health treatments, she would probably not be able to manage outside of a hospital.