Mental Illness in the Academy
Posted December 19th, 2007 by James T.R. Jones
Next week my review of Professor Elyn R. Saks' acclaimed book The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness will appear in the Hastings Women's Law Journal (it should appear on my SSRN site on my Brandeis School of Law Web page before then). In that review I discuss my unique perspective on Professor Saks' story, as I am the only legal academic other than Professor Saks to acknowledge having a severe mental illness (in my case, bipolar disorder, formerly known as "manic depressive illness"). Like Professor Saks, I have been hospitalized multiple times for mental illness, take antipsychotic medications (with side effects like tardive dyskinesia, weight gain, sedation, high cholesterol, etc.), and was granted tenure and full professor status by a law school faculty that had no idea I have any mental illness, much less a severe one like bipolar disorder. A fuller version of my story will appear in an article entitled Walking the Tightrope of Bipolar Disorder: The Secret Life of a Law Professor which will appear next spring in the Journal of Legal Education. Going public like Professor Saks was a hard decision, but I believe disclosures like we have made are necessary in the battle to create a world free of stigma and discrimination against those with severe mental illness.