Elyn Saks : A tale of mental illness from the inside

« Is it okay if I total­ly trash your office ? » It’s a ques­tion Elyn Saks once asked her doc­tor, and it wasn’t a joke. A legal schol­ar, in 2007 Saks came for­ward with her own sto­ry of schiz­o­phre­nia, con­trolled by drugs and ther­a­py but ever-present. In this pow­er­ful talk, she asks us to see peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness clear­ly, hon­est­ly and compassionately.

As a men­tal health 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 restoral 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.

mise à jour :  20 juin 2021