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USC law professor battles schizophrenia

Elyn Saks knows all about success - she was valedictorian at Vanderbilt University, graduated with honors from Yale Law School, was a Marshall scholar at Oxford and today is a respected legal scholar at University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

And, since adolescence, Saks has battled schizophrenia and acute psychosis. After decades of hiding her illness, Saks has published a memoir about her struggles and successes in The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion, 2007).

Up until now, only Saks closest friends knew of her condition which she controls with daily therapy and medication.

I wanted to write this book to give hope to people who suffer from schizophrenia and understanding to people who dont, said Saks, an expert in the field of mental health law who also holds faculty appointments at the Keck School of Medicine at USC and the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine in the psychiatry departments. I hope this story will help implode the myths that surround mental illness. And, honestly, it will be nice not to have this secret anymore.

Schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of the worlds population more than 3 million Americans and is classified by the National Mental Health Institutes as one of the top 10 causes of disability in the developed world. A disorder of the brain, the illness causes psychotic episodes of varying duration and severity. Symptoms of a psychotic episode range from unusual thoughts or perceptions and inability to form coherent thoughts to delusions and hallucinations.

However ironic, the life of Saks mind has been her salvation. Even as her brain attacks her with fear and hallucinations, it also provides the source of her greatest pride and stability her work. At USC, she throws herself into writing and spends nearly every waking hour in her crowded office in the law school. Since her arrival at USC in 1989, she has been amon
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Contact: Gilien Silsby
gsilsby@law.usc.edu
213-740-9690
University of Southern California School of Law
1-Aug-2007


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