Successful and Schizophrenic

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In the article “Successful and Schizophrenic” by Elyn R. Saks, she tells the story of her battle with schizophrenia which she was diagnosed thirty years ago. She relates to the reader how after given her diagnosis, her “prognosis seemed dim.” Schizophrenia is defined as a severe mental disorder characterized by some, but not necessarily all of the following features, emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations. It was commonly thought by most people, myself included that those diagnosed with schizophrenia were to lead a solitary life of little achievement. Elyn R. Saks tells of a different life that she made for herself.

After being diagnosed, Saks was told that “she would never live independently, hold a job, find a loving partner, and get married. That her home would be a board-and-care facility; her days would be spent watching TV in a day room with other people debilitated by mental illness.” In the article Saks states that although she agreed with her diagnosis she refused to accept her prognosis. The author goes on to say that due to her refusal to accept this prognosis, she is now a chaired professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, she also has an adjunct appointment in the department of psychiatry at the medical school of the University of California, San Diego, and she is also on the faculty of the New Center for Psychoanalysis. In an effort to understand schizophrenia especially those diagnosed with the high-functioning form of the illness, Saks and her colleagues gathered 20 research subjects in the Los Angeles area. What they found in their research was amazing.

The cross section of subjects they chose were graduate students, managers, technicians and professionals, including a lawyer, psychologist, and chief executive of a nonprofit group. Half were female, half were male; the average age was approximately 40 years old. All of the...
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