Oprah: The 7 Year Old With SchizophreniaOn October 6, 2009, the popular television show Oprah aired a program about a 7 year old girl, Jani, who has “schizophrenia.” Schizophrenia is fairly …

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Oprah: The 7 Year Old With Schizophrenia

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  1. LOL!

    “Even more disturbing that Oprah would choose to highlight this kind of case on an entire show devoted to it. Kind of smells opportunist.

    Do you even read the material on this site? It does have its entertainment value, though.

  2. Thank you for publishing this article. Having been through a very difficult experience with my brother recently, it reaffirms the importance of exploring alternative treatment methods to dealing with mental illness, particularly schizophrenia and related illnesses such as schizoaffective disorder.

  3. Thank you for the excellent article. I agree with Dr. Grohol that Tom Wootton’s books, The Depression Advantage and The Bipolar Advantage, are great sources of information, inspiration and hope. I found both books immensely helpful.
    I also agree that the Oprah piece was a bit overboard, and certainly not a balanced view of mental conditions. Perhaps Dr. Grohol’s article and the petition will move Oprah producers to do a show focusing on successful patients and successful treatment models.

  4. I am disappointed that nothing has been said about the parents hitting the kid which they admitted on their blog. Unfortunately, they removed the information once people were on to them. Furious Seasons covered the issue and so did other blogs:

    http://www.furiousseasons.com/archives/2009/07/father_of_girl_with_schizophrenia_admits_hitting_starving_girl.html

    or http://tinyurl.com/nzby84

    AA

  5. “…labeling a child at this young an age with such a serious mental disorder (she was first diagnosed at age 5) is extraordinary.” That’s very sad.

    And sadder when “It does have its entertainment value, though.”

    I had passed through a period when my daughter was considered retarded and she was insulted, hit; We both had to overcome what you can’t complain of because you get the true answer “they could do more and outside the school, if punished.” I admit, the children (and I suppose their parents too) had a lot of entertainment. She was saved by a gifted test! But I can’t forget how we were perceived before.

  6. Dear John

    Thank you for covering the open letter.

    If any of your readers wish to support the open letter, they can let me know at admin@intervoiceonline.org

    Best wishes

    Paul Baker
    INTERVOICE

  7. Very interesting. I only have experience w/one person I care about who hears voices. He definitely does NOT want to hear them, and he cannot wear an earpiece or perform a job that requires him to wear headphones. The panic on his face when he told me why he quit his job was enough for me to never question his need to be away from crowds or noise again. I hope that if this young girl does hear voices that she is given the same type of empowerment expressed in the open letter. If she does not want to hear the voices, I hope she is able with help to no longer hear them. But I agree labeling such a young child is very troubling. Oprah should spend more time using her talents to tell the bigger story rather than only small pieces of it.

  8. Dr. Phil does the same thing — sensationalizes psychology and psychiatry by sheddling light only on the worst cases.

  9. Oprah is doing a wonderful service in lifting the awareness of the current state of mental health treatment. It would be an even greater service if she could find her way to the leading edge of that treatment and host someone like Tom Wootton.

  10. I want to say that I have read both of Tom Wootton’s books and a number of others on the subject of Mental illness. Tom has been the only sorce of Hope that I have found so far. My 28 year old son suffers from bipolar condition. The stuggle is on going to find acceptance of mental illness and understanding. I can only hope in the future the stigmar and fear of mental illness can be replaced with love and hope and understanding.

  11. I would also like to add my story…I hope it is okay…
    it will give hope to others as well, it’s time for more positive stories.

    Tom Hennessy: L.B. mayor’s wife details her triumph over bipolar disorder

    The wife of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster accepted my invitation to describe her life as a bipolar patient. By doing so, she hopes to inspire others who are bipolar to become more open about a debilitating disorder and give hope to others.

    By Nancy Foster

    My depression actually started taking hold with a chemical imbalance.
    It was about two months after our second son, James, was born that my body started playing tricks on me.

    First, my over-active thyroid was treated, but the anxiety continued and I would have spells of severe depression and feeling as if I were in a fog.

    My mind would always give me a warning to be on the alert as I would start getting negative thoughts and bad feelings. This would gradually get worse until the depression set in. I would wake up in the morning with this horrible feeling. I wouldn’t want to open my eyes because I knew what was waiting for me: depression.

    Depression is the ugly duckling. I have had spells in my life when the physical and mental pain of depression has consumed me. That’s what makes it so horrible. As hard as you try to get it out of your mind, it hangs inside of you and suffocates your life.

    It also suffocates the lives of those around you, the people you love.

    During my spells of depression, I would hide in my home. Some days would seem to go on forever. Daily chores became tremendous tasks. Easy decisions became monumental and impossible to make. Luckily, as the years have passed, I have lost touch of the oppressive feelings of depression.

    Still, I have felt the hurt of the world inside of me. I hurt for people who are suffering because their lives are so difficult. Is it me hurting for them, or me realizing their hurt because of the awful depression that had been laid on my life for so many years?

    The gift that depression has given me is to feel a genuine compassion for others. I have to look at the positive side of depression. I have to open up to people about my depression and bipolar disorder.

    I vividly remember watching Jane Pauley on the “Today” show and wishing I could be normal, smart and enjoying life as she was doing. Years later, Jane came out with a book talking about her struggles with depression.

    I realized that I had admired a lady who also had the same problem as I. Saying this, I hope, will also be of help to others.

    Now, I haven’t read Jane’s book, but I can imagine what she has written. She has known the horror of depression, the mental anguish.

    Depression makes you look at yourself with a keen eye. It’s a destructive eye that doesn’t do a person any favors or give one any hint of being of more value. With depression, my mind magnified each moment and endorsed my negative thoughts and feelings. I was locked in by depression at times and it was a struggle. I never showed this ugliness to others in the world, but it was shown to my family.

    I was trying to take care of daily duties of caring for my family and at the same time dealing with feeling horrible and looking for a solution. At times, it was just too overwhelming.

    I remember one day when my mental pain was so horrendous and I questioned if I could live a lifetime feeling like this. I really had to think about it long and hard. The idea of how I would end my life occurred to me. I realized my two boys, Kenny and James, needed me to be there for them. Days that were so difficult, the voice of their needing me always rang in my ears.

    They saved my life and I knew it would be wrong to leave them.

    Panic, anxiety
    Panic disorder usually comes into play with depression. Wow! What a combination. Depression comes when you feel physically miserable, and makes you feel worthless. Then panic disorder comes in for the final blow and makes you feel frightened, as if you were dying.

    It’s not a nice combination. I lived with severe anxiety, and it was frightening. I remember being at a grocery store and leaving a half-full cart of food as I couldn’t handle being in the store any longer. This type of anxiety can take over your life.

    A couple of times, I drove my children to the store and gave them money so they could shop for groceries while I waited safely in the car. Both my sons remember this clearly and have mentioned it to me from time to time.

    I remember also when I did shop for groceries and was standing in line. I would panic because I was now sandwiched. What would I do if it got so difficult that I needed to bolt and get out of the store. I was stuck.

    There are times that people with panic disorder have to really manage their minds and try to distract themselves to make the time pass. With each occasion, however, comes the reinforcement of anxiety, and that’s a battle to overcome.

    When I did shop for groceries, I would shop with the intention of loading up with food just in case times became tough again and it would be difficult to venture out to the market. What a great feeling to come home with lots of food and be prepared just in case.

    It was always just in case, and what if I am feeling horrible or anxious and how will I manage my home or how will it be when I am with people. Somehow, I did manage, although it was difficult.

    There is one day that has stayed with me. When the children were very young and I had to take my younger son, James, for his first pair of prescription shoes that needed special sizing. I made the appointment. It was important to his health and had to be done. I had cancelled it once so I had to go forward with the appointment.

    I remember driving and having a feeling of being off balance, along with severe anxiety. It was hard getting the kids to the doctor that day, but I got it done and it was a huge relief. This day enters my mind time and time again.

    Psychiatric help
    Doctors would ask, “Are you depressed?” I would always reply, “No, I am not depressed. I just don’t feel well.”

    Years later, I realized that I didn’t feel well because I was depressed. I remember the doctors and nurses telling me, “You look great.” My response always was to just put (an imaginary) bag over my head and forget how I looked.

    Somehow, I always made sure that I put on my makeup and looked my best. It was my way of hiding my depression and the fact that I had a problem. My thinking was that only weak people have depression.

    Pity is the last thing I wanted, and I didn’t wish to open myself up to pity in any form. I was good at hiding when I was struggling with depression.

    When depression was severe, however, I wouldn’t see a doctor. It was hard to even be with myself, let alone venture out to see a doctor. I didn’t feel well and my mental state was painful. I was ashamed of the way that I felt and I knew others didn’t feel this way.

    No doctor ever said to me, “Nancy, I believe you are suffering with depression.” In the late 1970s, there were articles in magazines on depression, and I started seeing the similarities in myself. I ended up diagnosing myself and saw a psychiatrist.

    He was a nice, gentle doctor and he suggested I read a think book, “From Sad to Glad” by Nathan Kline, M.A. He told me I would see the same similarities in this book, and that I would be able to recognize if I had the problem of depression.

    It was true. The book gave me hope. It became my friend and I read parts of it over many times.

    Calm at last
    I remember it was a Sunday when suddenly I realized that a feeling of leveling out had come over me, a feeling of peacefulness.

    This was an emotional day, one I will never forget. The tears flowed uncontrollably as if all the years of pain were flooding out of my body. It hurt badly, but at the same time was extremely cathartic.

    My depression had started at age 24, and on that special Sunday, I was 35 years old. Slowly my many years of hurting and playing the game of being “normal” became a thing of the past. Gradually, I was feeling better. I was able to cope and enjoy life without the severe bouts of depression, anxiety and spells of extreme energy, the manic phases of bipolar disorder.

    Luckily for me, the manic phases have not been too destructive as is the case with some people. What makes an extreme energetic time hazardous is when it falls quickly into a spell of depression. What goes up must come down. Basically, that is what bipolar disorder is all about, and that is why medication is so important. It keeps the disorder in balance.

    As time passed, I came to realize that I married a wonderful man, and that it was challenging for him not knowing if I was having a good day. This can be like walking on eggshells.

    My children also had a mom who was not reliable at times and made promises she could not keep. I know they understand it was not for lack of love that these promises were broken. And I can enjoy my grandchildren, Taylor, 8, Bobby, 6, and Ryan, 3.

    As you can see, bipolar and depression not only affect the person, but the entire family.

    It’s important for those who have mental illness to realize, too, that they must stay on their medication. Absence of depression doesn’t signal that it’s time to stop with the meds.

    One needs to keep taking their medicine to keep their mind in harmony and their life in harmony as well. It’s the same with a diabetic who takes his/her daily insulin to keep blood sugar in balance.

    I end my day with a prayer: Thank God, for today. It was a good day.

    With all the ups and downs of life, I can say that I am feeling life as it should be felt, and for this I am grateful.

    Nancy Foster,
    Long Beach, Ca. 2007

  12. An alternative approach towards better managing my mental condition, as offered by Tom Wootton in his “Bipolar In Order”, gives me a sense of personal power and the freedom to more fully embrace my life experiences.

    Some of our history’s most brilliant minds displayed undesireable behavior & struggled with mental conditions. Imagine if we could shift medicine’s view towards providing life skills that allow you to benefit from these experiences, rather than forever fearing their existance and living a deminished life through traditional medications & treatment.

  13. I’m familiar with Tom Wootton’s pioneering work in the field. His revolutionary paradigm

  14. …has helped individuals who have felt hopelss and defeated. It deserves serious attention.

  15. It is disappointing and sad that any TV program would intentionally take advantage of the disability of a child (or adult for that matter). I have not seen the program and therefore reserve judgement.

    ATTITUDES HAVE OUTCOMES: These three words are at the core of human existence, especially people with mood disorders. Call the disorder an illness and the person with the disorder will always perceive themselves in a negative light. The obvious outcome will follow.

    Being different and having challenges is a much more positive way of framing any disorder, physical or mental.

    Life at its core is like a “Dark Room”, negatives are turned into positives or they remain negatives and don’t leave the room.

    Even those of us with no “disorder” require a positive attitude and a little help to achieve success and happiness. Whether it is education, friends, love, dedication, commitment, purpose or whatever is needed to get from one place in your life to another.

    My daughter is now 40 years old and still sees herself in a very negative “illness” way. In society today these mood disorders are labeled so negatively that those inflicted feel cursed for life.

    As a consequence very few of these valuable and talented people so labeled get through the “Dark Room” of life to become positive productive contributors in society.

    I am CEO of a Public company and we have a saying in sales that makes the point. IF YOU CAN FIX IT FEATURE IT. For every half empty glass their is a half full one.

    The good news is that pioneers in the mood disorder space are focusing on the “half full” and working to change prevailing negative labels and attitudes.

    Tom Wooton is one such “Change Agent”. If you have a loved one with a mood disorder find his books and start reading.

    ATTITUDES HAVE OUTCOMES and PERCEPTION IS REALITY

  16. Oprah does engage in sensationalist exploitation of people with various challenges in their lives. Friends of mine were on her show – it was about couples, one member of whom had suffered a serious brain injury. They said that when the cameras were on, Oprah acted caring and interested, but the rest of the time, Oprah and her staff were cold and inconsiderate – my friends came away feeling very much used.

  17. The article is very hopeful. I have a very loving, sensitive friend who has heard voices that were not, let us say, always giving him good direction. It is now drugged out of him. Oh yes, electroconvulsive therapy too some time back.I could not call him schizophrenic though he was diagnosed that way. It doesn’t resolve the problem.

    I am glad they made Reference to Tom Wootton. I have heard him speak and he brings light into the darkness.

  18. At least the message is getting out. The stigma of having any mental disorder remains and will remain if not talked about. As far as portraying the worst scenarios, how else would people be drawn to watch? Oprah certainly doesn’t need the money. She sincerely cares as can be seen with her generosity. No doctors can come up with any idea why this little girl hears voices other than schizophrenia….why do you think Oprah should be able to?

  19. Negative stigma is perpetuated when someone as influential and highly-viewed as Oprah chooses to only showcase worst-case stories. people with mental conditions, especially those who are recently diagnosed, Need to see examples of hope and success, not just a spotlight on the worst of the worst.
    let’s help to lobby the Oprah producers to portray a more balanced picture of living with schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and other mental conditions.

  20. We appear to be living in an era when a groundswell is changing the way mental illness is perceived. Accepting ‘hearing voices’ as an alternative rather than a sick condition is one example. So is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’s approach of training one to quit running away from adverse emotions, and instead look at them as part of life’s experience with equal value to those emotions we ‘like’ better. Tom Wootton’s empowering message, that mood disorders confer advantages that those with more confined feelings must do without, is yet another powerful example. We are fortunate to be witnessing this awakening of the human collective to the reality that psychiatric conditions are only ‘sicknesses’ if they detract from our abilities to live full lives in ways that we don’t like. If we can live fully and/or feel satisfied (and one usually can no matter how bad the ‘symptoms’) we are not sick, but rather different or even (why not?) better.

  21. Diagnoses are just what they are diagnoses. They are not labels, it is just like any other illness and requires treatment. The person is still a human being and should be treated with respect just like any other person.
    I am a human being with a serious mental illness-I am not my diagnoses. I have many supports, attend my psyciatric appointments, take my medications as prescribed and work full time in the mental health field as a peer mentor. This was not an overnight accomplishment-it took time, patience, knowledge, support and action on my part to get where I am today.
    After being diagnosed w/a mental illness people start the journey of recovery. In the journey, there is hope, empowerment, supports and knowledge. It is up to the person to take action in their recovery. If the person is a child, the parents would have to assist the child in their journey of recovery.
    The key is hope to live a fulfilling life.

  22. As well as pioneers like Tom Wootton on BPD, the hearing voices movement has Professor Marius Romme, A social psychiatrist from the Netherlands. He has written three ground breaking books about the voice hearing experience. The last of these, published this year is called

    “Living with Voices: 50 stories of recovery” by
    Marius Romme, Sandra Escher, Jacqui Dillon, Dirk Corstens, Mervyn Morris

    ISBN13 9781906254223

    Publisher PCCS Books in association with Birmingham City University , United Kingdom

    A new analysis of the hearing voices experience outside the illness model, resulted in accepting and making sense of voices. This study of 50 stories forms the evidence for this successful new approach to working with voice hearers.

    This book demonstrates that it is entirely possible to overcome problems with hearing voices and to take back control of one’s life. It shows a path to recovery by addressing the main problems voice hearers describe – the threats, the feelings of powerlessness, the anxiety of being mad – and helps them to find their way back to their emotions and spirituality and to realising their dreams. This book also holds true for those who have been given a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

    This is the third book in a series regarding the experience of hearing voices. It proves the value of our ‘accepting’ and ‘making sense of’ voices approach, for which it provides an evidence base.

    At the heart of this book are the stories of fifty people who have recovered from the distress of hearing voices. They have overcome the disabling social and psychiatric attitudes towards voice hearing and have also fought with themselves to accept and make sense of the voices. They have changed their relationship with their voices in order to reclaim their lives.

    All the people in this book describe their recovery; how they now accept their voices as personal, and how they have learnt to cope with them and have changed their relationship with them. They have discovered that their voices are not a sign of madness but a reaction to problems in their lives that they couldn’t cope with, and they have found that there is a relationship between the voices and their life history, that the voices talk about problems that they haven’t dealt with – and that they therefore make sense.

    Praise for Living with Voices
    ‘Marius Romme and Sandra Escher have revolutionized our understanding of voice hearing, and their work has led to a radical new way of helping people who have had this type of experience. In this timely, accessible and important book, they bring together the lessons they have learnt over more than two decades, and provide an opportunity for 50 voice-hearers from across the world to tell us their stories. This is essential reading for mental health workers of all professions, which challenges conventional thinking, empowers mental health service users, and looks forward to a more humane approach to psychiatric care.’
    Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Bangor University, Wales

    you can find out more here
    http://www.pccs-books.co.uk/product.php?xProd=482&xSec=1

  23. Great article. I know Tom Wootton, his philosophy and work. It’s top notch. It is truly a new approach to facing the reality of being bipolar.Tom has taken a difficult problem, made it understandable and even more, brought it out of the closet and into full public view.

  24. I am concerned at the growing rate of diagnosing children with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Our societal desire to label, to put things in a box so that we can understand it, oversimplifies human beings. The concept of sensory integration disorders (or the sensory integration spectrum) has a scientific biological and integrative approach that explains the “odd” experiences of our children in a non-blaming manner. Treated as a multi-factor disorder with a combination of interventions (both medical, holistic, and psychological – including occupational therapy and play therapy), there is hope and healing. It is extremely disturbing to observe the readiness in which our CHILDREN are given powerful psychotropic drugs in a DEVELOPING brain. The Intervoice Open Letter and comments of the readers above make a lot more sense from a therapeutic standpoint.

  25. We need to see more stories of successful people living with mental illness in the media. The trend to showcase only the worst case scenarios may drive ratings, but does great harm those living with mental health issues. Not to mention, this sick and sensationalized trend in the media is strengthening a prevailing stigma that is negative, and not representative of many people who have been given the diagnosis of schizophrenic, bipolar or depressive.
    I too have read Tom Wootton’s books and highly recommend them to anyone who desires a new perspective on mental conditions. His books are very hopeful, but also very real. I’m anxious to read his newest book (coming out soon, I hear?)

  26. I agree with what everyone has said about the sensationalizing of mental illness for profit.

    I teach the NAMI Family to Family class for family members, with loved ones, who have a mental illness. I have a small loaning library that I put out every week. I try to keep as many positive books about mental illness and recovery as possible.

    I have all three of Tom Wootton’s books along with Elyn Sak’s book, The Center Cannot Hold. I also have several other books on recovery. All of these books are written by people that have recovered and gone on to live both ordinary and extraordinary lives. These books give family members so much hope. We family members need more hope, not just the doom and gloom of shootings, suicides, etc. that are sensationalized in the news.

    Oprah needs to focus a whole show or several shows on what is being done in mental illness research, recovery, & showcase NAMI’s efforts in helping both the consumers and family members attain the goal of recovery.

  27. Yes, “opportunistic” describes Oprah quite well, bringing out only the negative aspects of mental illnesses will only do harm. It’s sad that Oprah doesn’t see it that way, just as long as she gets the attention of viewers. Great article!

  28. Agree with Candace (and all of the comments). The light must be shone on success, not failure. It’s bad enough to have a loved one with mental diagnosis, but then to only hear about all the negative components, makes the situation even worse. There are many stories of success and of people living “normal” lives while having a mental condition, but we never hear about those people (probably because they are all “in the closet” due to the negative stigma).
    Wootton’s books shine the light on the hopeful and positive aspects of living with a mental condition. It takes hard work, but living an abundant, meaningful and fulfilling life is very possible, regardless of diagnosis.

  29. It’s ashame that with all the power and connections that Ophrah has she would use those to sensationlize this story instead of going deeper and research and see how she could bring to light what can be done to advocate for children and adults afflicted with mental illness.

    Here is an opportunity Ophrah. You’ve stood on so many positive issues in the past. Take a stand and advocate and bring awareness to what can be done to help. This child is now labeled, medicated at the this early age and you showed only one side. Show the whole story “Stand up for and use your power for the good. Join to advocate for the rights of the mental ill and for those who are wronly labeled and misrepresented. Help this child you are put here in the lime light. So make it RIGHT!

  30. I am sorely saddened that Oprah, and others, have chosen sensationalism over information and encouragement. Knowledge regarding situations like the one above is important, but more important is learning how to effectively live with differences and health issues. I appreciate information sources like PsychCentral, Intervoice and authors like Tom Wootton, among others, who give encouragement and information about living a life not diminished but excellent.

  31. Very unfortunately, television (along with practically all other media) tend to exaggerate and/or find the most severe cases of “anything,” including illness conditions.
    Tragically, it is all about ratings and getting the maximum audience possible.
    As the late radio legend Paul Harvey once said; “We will deliver the most outrageous, bizarre and unusual news to you as long as you have an appetite for it!
    My friend Tom Wootton has helped me and countless others learn to recognize and live with who we are and what we have.
    It’s simply part of life.

  32. I work with young people who hear voices, provide some limited support for their parents and train professionals. The show’s negative message has already filtered through to some of these sessions (especially ones with parents and professionals). One individual used the example of the 7 year old ‘schizophrenic’ as evidence that such conditions were purely genetic in origin – a disturbing misinterpretation, I believe, and one that hints at the impact that such coverage may have.

    I worry about the impact this kind of coverage is having on young people and their families – I hear voices myself, and have been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the past. Thankfully I received the support I needed to recover from this (whilst I still hear voices, I am perfectly able to live with them), If I, or my family, had received such a negative message I am not sure I would be in this position now. The expectations that others have on us, and that we in turn have for ourselves, are a key aspect of recovery. After all, without hope how could we travel the difficult path to wellbeing?

    At the centre of this debate is a little girl. It’s truly tragic – not because she is caught up in a fantasy world with imaginary friends, but because key questions are unanswered (and will probably remain so as long as she’s seen as being purely mentally ill rather than distressed). What causes such a young child’s imaginary friends to become so damaging? The standard answer, in my book, is some form of trauma or event that she is struggling to cope with. Pathologising this may simply serve to cement her distress and block her recovery.

    I do not believe that schizophrenia is the best way to describe a distressed and disturbed young child – it’s a term that obscures the human and the understandable … something that we should always try to avoid. Well done to INTERVOICE for their thoughtful letter that will, hopefully, undo some of this damage

  33. As a long time advocate for persons that live with mental illnesses and their families, I think Oprah has done a great service in telling the world that Mental illnesses are Neuro-Biological Brain diseases and even children and Adolescents are unfortunately subject to them.

    The parents were and are very courageous to ‘going public”.

    Having been there and still involved we need to get past the stigma and recognize these diseases for what they are and that they are treatable.
    We do more harm by not labeling these kids than doing so. We hope that we can find a way to train more Child Psychiatrists and related Mental Health professionals so that better diagnosis and treatment/therapies and medications are available.

    These illnesses are not different than others like Diabetes, Cancer, Heart disease, etc. and proper diagnosis and early intervention are paramount to recovery. As we learn more about Mental illnesses we can put into place more and better prevention programs and strategies.

    Let us advocate for more research funding, doing away with the stigmatizing mentality and funding public mental health at a higher level and help these kids, because they enter the adult population at eighteen and can have terrible qualities of life.

    Let us advocate for better training and education of these diseases in our Education systems.

  34. See this article in the “Independent on Sunday” (UK) it provides a powerful contradiction to the massage of hopelessness portrayed in the Oprah program.

    “Eleanor Longden was a diagnosed schizophrenic and heard menacing voices in her head for 10 years. Now, she has fought back and has graduated with a brilliant honours degree in psychology…

    She said: “My original psychiatrist told me I would have been better off with cancer because it was easier to cure. She still says that to people. What happened to me was catastrophic, and I survived only because of luck…. I’m not anti-medication; I’m pro-choice. Hearing voices is like left-handedness; it’s a human variation, not open to cure, just coping.”

    full story here:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/a-firstclass-recovery-from-hopeless-case-to-graduate-1808991.html

  35. I have read that a child could hear voices and repeat several of them with not coherence because they are in the memory even before birth. The mother could have gone through a traumatic moment that imprinted said words in the little brain.
    Maybe hypnotism, EFT, neurofeedback or brain state technology could help. Unfortunately these are not yet into the stablishment.

  36. I’d like to see a show on a major talk show where the topic of how we tend to categorize mental health in a white or black box. This is the view that either you are sane or you are insane. It’s more like sane people are more of the the time sane than insane people. There a whole rainbow of colors in the sane / insane spectrum.

    What I appreciate so deeply about Tom Wooton/s ideas is that he asks if the extraordinary capabilities that bipolar individuals often exhibit are in fact, the inherent capabilities of all people, that most people have not yet tapped into.

  37. I just discovered this blog and therefore, I’m rather late to respond to this particular issue. Regarding “Jani”, who was featured on Oprah (and by the way, will be in a repeat episode in a couple of weeks); my perspective on the show and diagnosis is slightly different from others posted here. I am the mother of a now 34 year old male schizophrenic, who also is mildly retarded and is ASD. I also happen to know Jani’s parents. My son is an example of how a diagnosis of a serious mental disorder at a very young age (5) can with the right help, medication and time, can succeed. Jani’s parents are currently experiencing what I did over 30 years ago. They are desperately trying to secure the proper treatment and services for their daughter to help her get well. The purpose of them appearing on Oprah’s show was to bring attention to the plight that they are experiencing. Stigma, lack of appropriate support systems and the overall ignorance of the American public as far as mental health is concerned. Jani’s Dr. has recommended residential treatment for her. However, since she is so young and the school is out of state, her parents have refused. They are currently attempting to build a school for children with serious mental illness that will allow children to remain at home with their families, but will also provide the families and children with the support systems they need. Personally, I have encouraged them to allow Jani to attend a residential treatment facility because it worked so well for my son. He spent a year away from us when he was 10; then years of psychotherapy, various medications, several hospitalizations, and continued behavior modification, he is now living fairly independently in a group home with three other men, who happen to be the same age. He also works in a supervised situation for 5 hours per day, takes public transportation, shops, can easily make friends and socializes appropriately. So, while I agree that many worthwhile and valid comments have been made here about this episode of the Oprah show, I must urge each of you to refrain from a rush to judgment. There is far more to this story and how it came to be than what you observed.

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