Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Her Name is Sabine

This is a beautiful, tragic documentary film directed by the actress Sandrine Bonnaire. It uses home movie footage of her sister Sabine along with footage made when Sabine was a resident of a group home for people with serious psychiatric and neurological disabilities. The contrast between the images of the hauntingly beautiful adolescent Sabine and the obese, drooling, anxiety ridden and occasionally violent woman that her sister found  after her five years residence in a psychiatric hospital is profoundly moving. The film also answers a question that I have had for years since seeing Sandrine Bonnaire in the Agnes Varda film Vagabond. I wondered how Bonnaire had 'found' the hauntingly beautiful character she plays. Her Name is Sabine certainly gives a clue to an answer to that question.
I should add that Sabine is described in publicity for the film as 'autistic.' As I recall, someone who I took to be a psychiatrist in the film describes her as a 'psychoinfantile character with autistic features.' [I may not remember this exactly] While I thought that schizophrenia was a reasonable diagnosis for Sabine [especially as she seems to be receiving clozapine treatment], I found it interesting that schizophrenia is not mentioned in the film. I wondered if this was due to stigma or diagnostic peculiarities in France.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Teenager’s Path and a Killing Put Spotlight on Mental Care

I suppose this article got to the first page of the New York Times today to give us a preview of what this era of more budget cuts and no new taxes will be like. There are, of course, many unfortunate consequences of lowered funding for mental health services. It takes stories like this to bring attention to the situation. What will it take to produce better services? During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mental health services for the seriously mentally ill deteriorated for nearly a century.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sigmund Freud’s Cocaine Years

This New York Times review by Sherwin Nuland of Howard Markel's book titled  AN ANATOMY OF ADDICTION: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine  sound as though Markel's book manages to treat the cocaine addiction of two famous people with both clinical and historical intelligence -- a remarkable achievement. I look forward to reading the book.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ugandans with Mental Illness Learn to Fit In

This story reported by Joanne Silberner and funded by a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism describes a program for helping people in Uganda with mental illness find employment. In a market economy, community acceptance is based on the ability to work and bring money home to the family. This story focuses on community efforts in Africa to supplement psychiatric treatment with vocational programs. The emphasis of this story is on how programs that promote work for the mentally ill are especially important in African communities. The suggestion seems to be that things are different in the United States.  In my experience, however, all that seems different in this country is that vocational programs for the mentally ill have a very low priority. Would that there were more effective programs promoting work for the mentally ill in the United States.