James T.R. Jones's blog
University of Southern California Law Professor Elyn R. Saks will be speaking at 7:30 PM on Sunday, October 26 in the Strickler Hall auditorium on the U. of L. Belknap Campus. The title of her talk is "The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness," the story of a life of tremendous achievement while suffering from severe schizophrenia with a poor prognosis. She will speak for 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes for questions. Then, she will autograph copies of her book, which will be on sale outside the auditorium, with a portion of the sale proceeds going to NAMI Louisville, which is paying for her visit to Louisville. Those who already have copies of her book can also get them autographed. The talk is free, and parking will be available either in the Speed Museum parking garage for $3 or in surface parking lots for free. Reservations may be made for Professor Saks' address by calling the NAMI Louisville office at 245-5287, and they are strongly recommended. Reservations will be held until 7:15 on the night of the speech.
Professor Saks will repeat her address on Monday, October 27 at 12:00 in Room 275 of the Brandeis School of Law, with the program scheduled to end at 1 PM and book sales and autographing to follow. Parking will be more of a problem then, but anyone who wishes to attend her free speech on Monday can contact the parking office for assistance. Reservations are not being taken for the Monday talk. Courtesy of the Diversity Committee, lunch is being served at the Monday event.
Professor Saks is the Associate Dean for Research and Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; and Research Clinical Associate at the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles
I received the following correspondence from Ramona Johnson of Bridgehaven and the NAMI Louisville Board of Directors:
Jim, your presentation was powerful as was Judge Gibson’s. I heard nothing but positive comments on your all’s willingness to talk about mental illness in an attempt to reduce the stigma and promote people accessing treatment. Regards, Ramona
I also received the following:
Both you and Judge Gibson delivered powerful stories and your presentations were remarkable. Your courage and insight, coupled with the details of your experience, make you a uniquely qualified and compelling spokesperson for the cause.
Dean L. Johnson
Vice President, Community Relations
Seven Counties Services, Inc.
First of all, I addressed the Grand Rounds of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine on September 25, 2008, not on January 25, 2008 as erroneously posted in a prior blog entry.
More importantly, on October 6, 2008 The Honorable Susan Schultz Gibson, Jefferson Circuit Court, Division 12 and I spoke on “Two Voices, Two Perspectives: Mental Illness, Treatment and Recovery" as the keynote address for the Mental Illness Awareness Week Program for NAMI Louisville. Our talks contrasted my story of hope and life while living with severe mental illness with Judge Gibson's discussion of the tragic fate of her husband, who suffered from essentially untreated severe depression prior to his death.
On January 25, 2008 I addressed the Grand Rounds of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Today I received thhe following correspondence from Dr. Manuel F. Casanova:
Thank you again for your presentation yesterday. As you already know the same was very well received. Believe me you don't need a PowerPoint presentation in order to make a powerful point.
Manuel F. Casanova, M.D.
Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Psychiatry
Associate Chair for Research
University of Louisville
Department of Psychiatry
500 South Preston Street, Bldg. A, Room# 217
Louisville, Kentucky 40292
On September 11, 2008 I spoke at the Kent School of Social Work of the University of Louisville. Today I received the following letter from Dr. Linda K. Bledsoe:
Dear Professor Jones:
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to my graduate level class in psychopathology last Thursday. I know you have a demanding schedule and many speaking engagements in addition to that.
As I think was evident from the students' questions, they were able to gain a great deal of knowledge from you that will benefit their professional development as social workers. While it is one thing for me to share various textbook examples or examples from my experience of working with persons who live with similar illnesses, it is a much richer learning experience for my students to hear you tell you own story.
In your talk, you touched on so many topics that we will explore throughout the semester, such as, all the various medication issues and struggles that one faces when living with a serious mental disorder. Even more important that that aspect, you made it real for the students, you shared your sense of humor, and you allowed them to see the great success and full life that is possible. Perhaps we will steal your phrase as our class motto--"Stigma is never OK, and treatment works."
In closing, thank you again for your important contribution to the training and education of future social workers.
Linda K. Bledsoe, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor
Kent School of Social Work
University of Louisville
On July 18 I received the attached correspondence from Katharine Dobbins, LCSW, Associate Director and Director of Programs at Wellspring:
Your talk yesterday was just terrific. I believe it had a real impact on the
clinical staff. It is not often that someone of your stature is willing to
talk publicly about their personal experience with mental illness. Many
staff have thanked me for arranging it and have been more enthusiastic about
your presentation than most any that I can recall. I believe that it was
particularly powerful because it is so personal, you are so accomplished in
your field, and yet you are willing to share your story despite the risks. I
highly applaud your courage. Your work, along with that of Elyn Saks, goes a
long way to reduce stigma and is a great contribution to the mental health
Katharine Dobbins, LCSW
Associate Director & Director of Programs
P.O. Box 1927
Louisville, KY. 40201
I received the following correspondence on September 16, 2008 from Dr. Robert B. McFadden, the President of NAMI Louisville:
I am writing to thank you for your inspiring speech at NAMI Louisville’s
Walk for the Mind of America at the Waterfront Park on September 13,
2008. While it must have been hard for you to recount the struggle you
have had with your illness, your story carried a most positive message
to your audience of family members and consumers. That message is that
treatment works when it is delivered to the patient and your living
presence provided a living, fighting example of success.
Too long have people who suffer from brain disorders had to face the
stigma of mental illness. Too long have sufferers, consumers and family
members alike, had to endure the neglect and denial of the treatment
that is their due. As you pointed out, treatment saves money for the
state. Two thousand dollars spent on medication and therapy for a month
can keep a patient out of hospital and in many cases in the workforce.
Lack of that medication or therapy can cost $25,000 for a month in
hospital, or it can cost a life through suicide.
Thank you for your courageous and eloquent presentation. I look forward
to your encore at our main event for Mental Illness Awareness Week with
Judge Gibson and to your participation when we and the Brandeis School
of Law welcome Professor Elyn Saks to Louisville at the end of October.
Robert B. McFadden, M.A., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, UofL
President, NAMI Louisville
10510 LaGrange Rd, Bldg 103
Louisville KY 40223-1228
Tel: 502-339-8545 (H) 502-245-5287 (O)
Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Americans, yet those who suffer from it are the most stigmatized group in the nation. NAMI—the National Alliance on Mental Illness—works in a number of ways to help those with mental illness. In particular, NAMI Louisville advocates for those with mental illness in the Kentucky capital city in Frankfort, provides support groups for both mental health consumers and their families, trains Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officers to deal with consumers in crisis through its Crisis Intervention Team, and puts on important programs. This year, NAMI Louisville is bringing Professor Elyn R. Saks of the University of Southern California Law School, author of the acclaimed memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness which relates her incredibly successful career despite having schizophrenia, to speak at the Brandeis School of Law at noon on October 27. You can support NAMI Louisville, for which I am the consumer Board member, by taking part in the annual NAMI Walk on September 13, with registration starting at 9 AM and the Walk at 11 AM at the Harbor Lawn at Waterfront Park. The more walkers the better, and Walk participants can also raise money to support NAMI Louisville’s important work by having friends and family pledge to support their Walk efforts. To register for the Walk, go to http://xrl.us/jimsteam and sign up for the Jim’s A Successful Consumer team. If you do not want to walk but want to contribute towards NAMI Louisville's good work, gifts may be made at http://xrl.us/jimwalks.
Since my last blog posting, I have given a number of talks on my life with mental illness. More specifically, on April 15 I spoke about "Severe Mental Illness in the Academy: A Law Professor's Story" to the Psychiatry, Mental Health and the Law class at the Brandeis School of Law; on June 4 I spoke about "Severe Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Value of Treatment" to the Psychopathology class at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville; on July 2 I spoke about that topic with a group of the Kentucky Governor's Scholars (the top high school students in Kentucky); on July 17 I spoke on that topic with the clinical staff at Wellspring, a mental health care agency; and on August 26 I spoke about how those with severe mental illness can be successful professionals to the training class for the Crisis Intervention Team of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department. Future scheduled talks will be to the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville Psychopathology class, the Grand Rounds of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, the annual meeting of the Indiana Conference of Rehabilitative Psychiatric Services, NAMI Louisville, and the Association of American Law Schools.
In addition to my own talks, I, in conjunction with NAMI Louisville and the Brandeis School of Law, have arranged to have Professor Elyn R. Saks of the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and author of the acclaimed memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion 2007) speak at the University of Louisville on October 26 and 27 about her career as a highly successful legal academic who has schizophrenia.