The “True Life” episode I chose focused on schizophrenia. This is the topic I’m researching for the Weebly assignment and I thought it would give a nice overview of the experience individuals have when diagnosed with schizophrenia. The episode followed three individuals in their late teens/early 20’s and the day-to-day challenges they faced with schizophrenia. The three individuals took different approaches to their illness.
Josh chose to deal with his illness without the help of medical professionals. He suffered from extreme delusions and consistently heard voices in his head. He mainly self-medicated with illegal drugs. Josh did complete several rehab programs but refused psychiatric help and medication. Josh refused to admit to his illness and didn’t apply to the sick role. The second individual Ben suffered from extreme social anxiety affecting his ability to attend school, get a job, and his own place to live. Ben also suffered from depression, his grandfather and father were diagnosed with cancer and his illness hindered his ability to efficiently cope with discovery and led him into a deep depression. Ben’s sick role included seeking professional psychiatric help and he was able to control his illness to a degree with the following methods. He met with his psychiatrist regularly, he took medications to control his symptoms, and he attended monthly meetings or shared narratives with other individuals suffering form similar mental illnesses. Similar to alcoholics anonymous mentioned in the lecture 2 video, the meetings allow the individuals to cope with the social stigmas associated with their illness by talking with people experiencing the same symptoms, allowing a level of trust otherwise not seen (Lecture 2). Amber was the last individual followed in the episode, her main symptom with schizophrenia was social anxiety. She was a part time college student who sought psychiatric help regularly and took her prescribed medications. Amber was able to control her symptoms enough to continue taking college classes. Amber experienced all three stages of the sick role during the episode, she understood her illness, sought professional help, and understood when her illness was out of control and excused herself from some responsibilities.
The narrative used in this episode was the chaos narrative. All three individuals understood their diagnosis was a chronic condition. Also, social suffering or social anxiety was a symptom shared by all three. Schizophrenia and mental illness in general has a negative culture or stigma associated with it. Amber sought out help from a program in her area aimed to increase awareness for mental illness and improve the surrounding culture.
Lecture 2 Video. Accessed July 22. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/week-4-lecture-2/