Walking the Tightrope of Bipolar Disorder: The Secret Life of a Law Professor; Severe Mental Illness in the Academy
Posted February 5th, 2008 by James T.R. Jones
I have now completed a quintuple series of works on the subject of severe mental illness in legal academia, the last of which (Severe Mental Illness in the Academy: A Secret Revealed) will appear shortly on my SSRN site. In total, they include two reviews of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Professor Elyn R. Saks of the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California (one in the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper and one in the Hastings Women's Law Journal), a Community Challenge article in the Courier-Journal, an article in the Louisville Bar Association Bar Briefs, and a major article in the Journal of Legal Education. Taken as a whole, they present the stories of Professor Saks and me achieving the status of tenured full professors of law while secretly suffering from severe mental illnesses (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, respectively). They show the people of Louisville, the Louisville bar, and legal academia as a whole that those with severe mental illness can perform stressful professional duties despite their conditions. They also show two people who are willing to face the stigma of having a mental illness in order to prove that stigma is unjustified (indeed, both have been overwhelmed with favorable responses to their disclosures). The legal world should take this message to heart so that in the future law students and faculty, as well as attorneys and judges, need not fear having others know about their psychiatric condition.