Unawareness of one’s own mental illness – clinically known as ‘anosognosia’ – is the leading reason that people with brain diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder don’t take the medications that could stabilize them.
Arlington, VA (PRWEB) May 04, 2012
A new four-minute video featuring dramatic footage from an interview with a mentally ill man who killed two U.S. Capitol police officers while trying to protect the nation from cannibals has been released by the Treatment Advocacy Center to mark the annual observance of Mental Health Awareness Month.
“Unawareness of one’s own mental illness – clinically known as ‘anosognosia’ – is the leading reason that people with brain diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder don’t take the medications that could stabilize them,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center.
“Until policy makers and the public recognize that affected individuals are medically unable to seek care voluntarily, these people will continue to suffer, and society will continue to pay for the homelessness, arrests, incarcerations, hospitalizations, victimization and violent acts that result from non-treatment”
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and narrator of the video entitled “Anosognosia,” reports that approximately 50% of those with schizophrenia and 40% of those with bipolar experience anosognosia, a syndrome that is widely acknowledged in connection with other medical conditions.
“We recognize it for Alzheimers disease, but we seem to have trouble recognizing that this is common for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” Torrey explains in the video.
The video provides a rare glimpse of what active anosognosia looks like. In it, “Capitol Hill shooter” [Russell Weston details his cannibalism and other delusional thinking but insists he is not mentally ill. Weston was never tried for the 1998 killings and remains hospitalized for paranoid schizophrenia.
The Treatment Advocacy Center is the only national nonprofit focused exclusively on eliminating legal and other barriers to treatment for people with the most severe mental illnesses. Among those barriers are laws and policies that pose obstacles to court-ordered treatment as a means of stabilizing individuals too ill to seek treatment before tragedies occur.