Elyn Saks asks bold questions about how society treats people with mental illness.
As a law scholar and writer, Elyn Saks speaks for the rights of mentally ill people. It's a gray area: Too often, society's first impulse is to make decisions on their behalf. But it's a slippery slope from in loco parentis to a denial of basic human rights. Saks has brilliantly argued for more autonomy -- and in many cases for a restoration of basic human dignity.
In 2007, deep into her career, she dropped a bombshell -- her autobiography, The Center Cannot Hold. In it, she reveals the depth of her own schizophrenia, now controlled by drugs and therapy. Clear-eyed and honest about her own condition, the book lent her new ammunition in the quest to protect the rights and dignity of the mentally ill.
In 2009, she was selected as a MacArthur Fellow.
Read more on io9.com: I’m Elyn Saks and this is what it’s like to live with schizophrenia »
“Some people still hold [the] view that restraints help psychiatric patients feel safe. I've never met a psychiatric patient who agreed.”
“Portray [people with mental illness] sympathetically, and portray them in all the richness and depth of their experience as people, and not as diagnoses.”
“Please hear this: There are not ‘schizophrenics,’ there are people with schizophrenia.”
“Occupying my mind with complex problems has been my best and most powerful and most reliable defense against my mental illness.”
“One of the reasons the doctors gave for hospitalizing me against my will was that I was ‘gravely disabled.’ To support this view, they wrote in my chart that I was unable to do my Yale Law School homework. I wondered what that meant about much of the rest of New Haven.”
“We must stop criminalizing mental illness. It's a national tragedy and scandal that the L.A. County Jail is the biggest psychiatric facility in the United States.”