Psychiatric News Alert, Sunday, May 19, 2013
“My therapist used to say I was three people—Professor Saks, the lady with the thick medical history, and Elyn,” recounted Elyn Saks, Ph.D., J.D., in a conversation today with APA President Dilip Jeste, M.D., at the Opening Session of APA’s 2013 annual meeting about her struggle with and continuing recovery from schizophrenia. “And he thought Elyn was the most neglected. Eventually, through psychotherapeutic work, coming to terms with the narcissistic injury of having a serious mental illness, it began to define me less. It became accident rather than essence. Today Elyn and Professor Saks are at the forefront, and the lady with the thick chart is trailing in third.”
Saks’ remarks were part of a wide-ranging conversation with Jeste about living with a serious mental illness while also pursuing a successful career as a writer, ethicist, and lawyer. Saks is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship winner. She is also the author of an award-winning best-seller, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, an autobiographical account of her long struggle with schizophrenia.
Jeste interviewed Saks about issues related to recovery, stigma, resilience, the relative value of psychosocial and pharmacological interventions, and bioethics relevant to people with serious mental illness. She recounted painful—as well as joyful and humorous—aspects of her journey and concluded with a note of gratitude to the field of psychiatry. “In many ways psychiatry has been the star of my show. I’m incredibly grateful for what you do. And on behalf of my fellow patients, thank you very much,” she said.