Elyn Saks has chronic schizophrenia and she has been in and out of psychiatric wards for most of her life. One time had a very bad psychotic episode and she called her friend Steve for help. He had never seen her in such a psychotic state. She did not eat, move, go outside, talk, etc. for almost a week straight. Elyn was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia and was told her condition was grave, which means that she would most likely never work, but she is now a psychologist, psychiatrist, and a lawyer. Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis which causes hallucinations, speech and movements are effected, etc. The schizophrenic mind is not split, but shattered. One night, she had a schizophrenic episode while working in the library with 2 friends, and they did not understand what was going on. This episode that she had led to her first hospitalization in America. She was hospitalized against her will because she “gravely disabled.” She spent the next 5 months in a psychiatric hospital, most of the time restrained by thick leather belts. Elyn believes that the use of restraints is not helpful for psychiatric patients, and they should be comforted instead of restrained. Elyn spent her last times in college attempting to ween herself off her medicine, because she thought she would be okay without it. Even after having more psychiatric episodes she refused to take her medicine. Elyn is where she is today for three reasons: excellent treatment, close family ties, and her work accommodates her needs and occupies her mind with complex problems which distracts her from her mental illness. Elyn thinks people should be more educated on mental illnesses and stop criminalizing them and get people the help that they actually need.
Elyn Saks’ TED talk on her mental illness: