"Severe Mental Illness in the Academy: A Law Professor's Story"
Posted March 19th, 2008 by James T.R. Jones
On March 11, 2008 I spoke on "Severe Mental Illness in the Academy: A Law Professor's Story" at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California. It was an exciting time, as in addition to telling my story of life as a law professor who has a severe mental illness I finally met, in person, someone to whom I have become extremely close--Professor Elyn R. Saks, author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Elyn and I are the only two law professors in the United States who have publicly acknowledged having a severe mental illness (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, respectively). My speech was very well-received by an attentive audience of students, faculty, and staff. Then, on March19, 2008 I spoke on the same topic to the Student Health Law Association of the Brandeis School of Law and its invited guests (students, faculty, and staff). Once again, the audience was very kind. I believe I made some inroads against the stereotypes of those with mental illness, showing one can both have a severe mental illness and be a successful professional. If so, I will have accomplished what I set out to do when I went public with my condition--fight stigma, and show that treatment works.