Thursday, October 4, 2012

IPS Keynoter Recounts Path to Recovery

“Mine is a story of wellness through recovery and integration,” said Elyn R. Saks, J.D., Ph.D., in a keynote address this afternoon at APA’s 64th Institute on Psychiatric Services in New York. Echoing the theme of this year’s conference—“Pursuing Wellness Though Recovery and Integration”—Saks recounted a remarkable story of academic and professional success in the face of schizophrenia. (She is pictured with APA President Dilip Jeste, M.D.)

Saks, the author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She described her early ominous symptoms in childhood and adolescence, her first hospitalization while studying at Oxford University in England, her long resistance to and denial of mental illness, and her eventual acceptance of the efficacy of antipsychotic medication in combination with psychotherapy in her treatment and recovery. “I think that recovery is very important and that [psychiatrists] cannot think only about reduction of symptoms, but about quality of life. And we need to think about how to put that question to [psychiatric patients] themselves—How can we get them what they want out of life?”

In introducing Saks, Jeste said the future of psychiatry lies in embracing not just the treatment of acute symptoms but also a new focus on “positive” psychological traits of resilience, optimism, social integration, and wisdom embodied in Saks’ story. “Recovery is no longer a dream or a fantasy,” Jeste told psychiatrists at the meeting. “It is a reality.”

(Image: Ellen Dallager Photography)


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