Does “January” Have Schizophrenia or Is it Her Family That is Disturbed?

I first saw videos of January on Youtube years ago, and I was appalled by the inappropriate nature of taping your supposedly disturbed child. I was also skeptical. I felt deeply that the parents had decided to label and encourage Jani to behave/answer questions in “schizophrenic” ways in order to garner publicity. Sorry, but those were my feelings at the time and they are still my feelings though I have not been able to stomach “keeping up with the story” over the years. Frankly, I would not be surprised if this case did not rise to a matter of Munchausen’s by Proxy, though no one is saying any such thing (of course not!)…

 

This article is an important OPEN LETTER  that I just found at BEYOND MEDS:

https://beyondmeds.com/2009/10/18/an-open-letter-to-oprah-regarding-jani-the-seven-yr-old-schizophrenic/

FROM MAD IN AMERICA dot com – January 21,  2013 (I couldn’t find any sharing buttons that would allow me to reblog this but the direct link can be found below)

The Hearing Voices Movement: In Response to a Father – ‘My Daughter, the Schizophrenic’

Jacqui Dillon

January 21, 2013

There was a heart-breaking and disturbing story in this weekend’s Guardian newspaper entitled ‘My Daughter, the Schizophrenic’, (1) which featured edited extracts from a book written by the father of a child called Jani. He describes how Jani is admitted into a psychiatric hospital when she is 5, diagnosed with schizophrenia when she is 6 and by the time she is 7, she has been put on a potent cocktail of psychotropic medications:

”Jani is on three medications: Clozapine, lithium and Thorazine (known in the UK as Largactil). This combination has been the most successful. Are her hallucinations completely gone? No, but as she will tell us, they are not bothering her. It’s like having the TV on in the background, volume turned down, while you’re doing something, and every so often you look up at the screen to see what 400 the cat and other hallucinations are doing. They remain on Jani’s periphery, but she can still function in our common reality.”(2)

This harrowing description exemplifies the worst excesses of responding to a deeply troubled child’s distress as if it were a pathological illness, with the full psychiatric arsenal. What ensues can only be described as an account of psychiatric, human rights abuse.

If only Jani and her family were offered alternative kinds of help such as that developed by Voice Collective, (3) a London-wide project set up to support children and young people who hear, see and sense things others don’t. Voice Collective works with children, young people & families, and with professionals and organisations offering a whole range of services including peer support groups, so young people can meet with other young people with similar experiences, creative workshops, 1-2-1 support around making sense of voices and finding coping strategies, an online support forum. Voice Collective also offers a range of support services to families as well as supporting schools, social services, child and adolescent mental health services and other youth agencies to work with children & young people who have these experiences.

As one parent who has been supported by Voice Collective said:

‘You have brought us ‘normality’ within these experiences. You have taught us that with the appropriate support young people can lead happy and successful lives. You recognise the love we have for our children and have taught us how to support them”. – (Mother of a 12 year old)

How different things could be for Jani, her family and countless other children and families around the world if there were greater awareness that such humane and healing alternatives exist; approaches which help without doing more harm. (continued below the break)

——————————

(Questions, comments and/or reflections are welcome on this website or via Twitter @JacquiDillon
Jacqui Dillon’s website: http://www.jacquidillon.org
  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/19/my-daughter-the-schizophrenic
  2. January First: A Child’s Descent Into Madness And Her Father’s Struggle To Save Her, by Michael Schofield, published on 1 February by Hardie Grant Books.
  3. http://www.voicecollective.co.uk/)
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Jani and her family originally appeared on the Oprah show in 2009. Many of us within the Hearing Voices Movement were so saddened and disturbed by Jani’s treatment that we wrote an open letter to Oprah Winfrey. Here is the open letter from INTERVOICE – the International Network for Training, Education and Research into Hearing Voices – an international organisation dedicated to spreading positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices across the world, reprinted again.

Dear Oprah,

We are writing in response to your programme about “The 7-Year-Old Schizophrenic”, which concerned Jani, a child who hears voices, which was broadcast on the 6th October 2009. We hope to correct the pessimistic picture offered by the mental health professionals featured in your programme, and in the accompanying article on your website. What upset us most and moved us to write to you, is that parents will have been left with the impression that they are powerless to help their children if they hear voices. We are also concerned that the programme gave the impression that children with voices must be treated with medication. We note that the medications mentioned in your programme all have very serious side effects. (For example, antipsychotics such as Haldol cause neuronal loss, block the dopamine pathways in the brain required to processes rewarding stimuli, and carry a high risk of neurological and metabolic side effects such as Parkinsonianism and diabetes. Their effects on the developing brain are largely unknown and, in our view, they should only be given to children as a treatment as absolutely last resort.)

We have been researching and working with adults and children like Jani for the last twenty years, and our work has led us to very different conclusions from those reached by the mental health professionals on your programme. One of our founding members, Dr. Sandra Escher from the Netherlands, has spent the last fifteen years talking to children who hear voices, and to their parents and carers. This work is the most detailed and thorough investigation of children who hear voices carried out to date [1, 2]. The most important findings from recent research on hearing voices are as follows:

Prevalence of Voice Hearing in Adults and Children

Recent large-scale population (epidemiological) studies have shown that about 4-10 % of the adult population hear voices at some time in their lives [3-5]. Only about a third seek assistance from mental health services. Amongst children, the proportion hearing voices may be even higher [6] and, again, only a minority are referred for treatment. Hence, it is wrong to assume that voice hearing is always a pathological condition requiring treatment.

Psychological Mechanisms

Everyone has an inner voice. Psychologists call this phenomenon ‘inner speech’ and it is an important mechanism that we use to regulate our own behaviour (plan what we want to do, direct our own actions). Child psychologists have long understood that this ability begins to develop at about 2-years of age [7, 8]. Hearing voices seems to reflect some kind of differentiation in the mind’s ability to tell the difference between inner speech and the heard speech of other people [9, 10].

Link to Trauma

A common theme in research with both adults and children is the relationship between hearing voices and traumatic experiences. In adults, around 75% begin to hear voices in relationship to a trauma or situations that make them feel powerless [11-13], for example the death of a loved one, divorce, losing a job, failing an exam, or longer lasting traumas such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The role of trauma was identified in 85% of the children we have studied, for example being bullied by peers or teachers, or being unable to perform to the required level at school, or being admitted to a hospital because of a physical illness. In short, our research has shown that hearing voices is usually a reaction to a situation or a problem that the child is struggling to cope with.

Voices have a meaning. A related and equally striking finding is that the voices often refer to the problem that troubles the child, but in an elliptical manner. To take just one example from the children studied by Sandra Escher:

The voices told an 8-year-old boy to blind himself. This frightened his mother. But when we discussed whether there was something in the life of the boy he could not face, she understood the voices’ message. The boy could not cope with his parents’ problematic marriage. He did not want to see it.

We wonder whether anyone has attempted to establish why, in Jani’s case, the rat is called “Wednesday”, why the girl is called “24 Hours”, and why is the cat called “400″? What do these mean for her? Why does Jani want people to call her “Blue-Eyed Tree Frog” and “Jani Firefly”?

Good Outcomes Without Treatment

Recently, Sandra Escher conducted a three-year follow up study of eighty children who heard voices, aged between 8 and 19 [1]. Half received mental health care but the other half were not given any specialist care at all. The children were interviewed four times, at yearly intervals. By the end of the research period 60% of the children reported that their voices had disappeared. Very often, this was because the triggering problems were dealt with or because the child’s situation changed – for example, following a change of schools.

Helping Children Who Hear Voices: Advice to Parents

It is important to appreciate that the desire to make voices disappear, although usually the goal of the mental health care services, is not necessarily in the best interests of children. Some children do not want to lose their voices. If children can find within themselves the resources to cope with their voices, they can begin to lead happier and more balanced lives.

The most important element in this process is support from the family. Unfortunately, we have found that mental health services often fail to have a positive effect on children’s voices, because they foster fear rather than coping. However, we have found that referral to a psychotherapist who is prepared to discuss the meaning of voices is often helpful.

It is important that parents do not assume that hearing voices is a terrible disaster but instead regard it as a signal that something is troubling their child. If parents assume that voices are a symptom of an illness, and are afraid of them, the child will naturally pick up on this feeling. This can lead to a self-defeating cycle in which the child becomes fearful and obsessed by the voices.

We would like to offer this 10-point guide for parents, indicating what they can do if a child tells them that he or she hears voices:

1. Try not to over react. Although it is understandable that you will be worried, work hard not to communicate your anxiety to your child.

2. Accept the reality of the voice experience for your child; ask about the voices, how long the child has been hearing them, who or what they are, whether they have names, what they say, etc.

3. Let your child know that many other children hear voices and that usually they go away after a while.

4. Even if the voices do not disappear your child may learn to live in harmony with them.

5. It is important to break down your child’s sense of isolation and difference from other children. Your child is special – unusual perhaps, but really not abnormal.

6. Find out if your child has any difficulties or problems that he or she finds very hard to cope with, and work on fixing those problems. Think back to when the voices first started. What was happening to your child at the time? Was there anything unusual or stressful occurring?

7. If you think you need outside help, find a therapist who is prepared to accept your child’s experiences and work systematically with him or her to understand and cope better with the voices.

8. Be ready to listen to your child if he or she wants to talk about the voices. Use drawing, painting, acting and other creative ways to help the child to describe what is happening in his or her life.

9. Get on with your lives and try not to let the experience of hearing voices become the centre of your child’s life or your own.

10. Most children who live well with their voices have supportive families who accept the experience as part of who their child is. You can do this too!

Conclusion

In conclusion we would like to stress that, in our view, labelling a seven-year-old child as schizophrenic and subjecting her to powerful psychotropic medication and periodic hospitalisation is unlikely to help resolve her problems. Indeed, the opposite is most probable: children treated in this way will simply become more powerless. Because your well respected, award winning show reaches out to so many people, we are concerned that there will be many viewers who will be left with the impression that the treatment Jani receives is the only method available. We fear that this may cause some children to be subjected to an unnecessary lifetime in psychiatric care. It is very important to recognise that hearing voices, in itself, is not a sign of psychopathology.

We hope you will give consideration to the possibility of making a future programme showing the other side of the story, one of hope, optimism and with a focus on recovery. Perhaps you could make a programme about a child with similar voice experiences to Jani, who has been helped to come to terms with her or his experiences and to discuss with the child, parents and therapists how this was achieved? If there is any way we could help make this happen, please contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you on the issues raised in our letter.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Baker

INTERVOICE coordinator

(Letter re-edited with the kind assistance of Professor Richard Bentall)

For the Selected bibliography please see original piece at Mad In America.  http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/01/the-hearing-voices-movement-in-response-to-a-father-my-daughter-the-schizophrenic/

Here are the first several comments that followed:

  1. Thanks for posting Jacqui.

    The Guardian article and story about the little girl pathologised by psychiatry and her father was harrowing to read and think about. I remember it being promoted before. Like a circus act in bygone days but more sinister and scary. Subjecting a child to these strong psychiatric drugs it’s a wonder she can function at all.

    It’s encouraging to hear of the Hearing Voices movement’s work, Chrys

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    • Thanks Chrys.

      This story is horrifying and aside from Jani’s ‘treatment’ one wonders why her family and the professionals working with her think it is acceptable to invade her privacy in such a way. That in itself disturbs me, never mind what else she is being subjected to.

      To counter-balance such a disturbing story I felt it was crucial to highlight the work of the Hearing Voices Movement which offers such a humane and hopeful approach and a viable alternative for Jani and other children like her, who are suffering because of scary voices and visions. There is always hope.

      Jacqui

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  2. While reading “Blue-Eyed Tree Frog”, thing in the left side of my head said “cognitive dissonance”.

    I’ve never heard of cognitive dissonance so I had to look it up to see if it exists. It does.

    I cannot claim “cognitive dissonance” as my own thought. It distinctly is NOT my own. How’s that for a real-time example of mental hearing?

    I don’t know if cognitive dissonance is “professionally” observed in Jani. I think it would benefit her greatly, and she would do remarkably well, to prescribe the treatment of: study linguistics. The greater her vocabulary becomes, the better she will be able to know and understand her own mind, and effectively communicate what she experiences to others.

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    • Interesting how those words came to you – from the collective unconscious perhaps?! – but I wonder who is actually suffering from cognitive dissonance. Is it 8 year old Jani who seems to be able to articulate and communicate about her frightening experiences so clearly, or is it the adults around her? How do they fail to see and hear the meaning in her experiences, rendering them a symptom of schizophrenia instead? I wonder if it is they who need study further…

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      • I love Jani. I’m fascinated by her. I wish I could meet her and talk with her.

        I believe in my heart that she really was born exactly as she is. I think her mind / psyche very much IS a real issue. I don’t know if I’d call her “schizophrenic” but I would call her Psychic (psychic, meaning – her psyche is distinct and remarkable and very active, obviously). Psyche is NOT a disease but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to live with. It can be outright brutal and even Hellish (such is life). There are various states of Psyche. An active one is *psychic*. It shouldn’t be so complicated.

        If she is renaming herself, it seems that “cognitive dissonance” could be an accurate description of what she’s doing. I read that she HATES her name “January” – which I think is really significant and needs to be understood. SOMETHING is motivating her to find a new name for herself. That’s a big deal.

        I don’t blame her family (or the rest of the world) for calling her schizophrenic. As of right now, people don’t know any different. Who could honestly deny the fact that she IS how she is? I can’t.

        To be real honest, I resent the fact that people are trying to spin the “abuse” angle, suggesting that abuse or neglect is what is causing her condition. That is BS. There very well may be some of those issues, but the girl IS born as she is. I think she DOES have something “genetic”. I think she IS a genuine psyche-active person. I don’t see her as “sick” but I do see her as somebody who needs a LOT of support to know and understand what she “has” and how and why she has it. I see her as 100% GENUINE: whatever it may be, she’s BORN that way.

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        • I am not sure that people are trying to ‘spin’ anything, just reflecting on what comes up for them when reading and hearing about Jani and her treatment and providing factual information that has previously been in the public domain.

          I appreciate your wish to not blame but seek to try and understand. However I don’t believe in schizophrenia. I think it is a damaging concept and that so called symptoms are reactions, often to traumatic or overwhelming experiences. I also feel deeply troubled by what is really going on here although ultimately, all we can all do, is speculate, muse, discuss…

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          • Let’s take a closer look:

            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/schizophrenia

            Do you see where it says

            “2. behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles”

            ?

            Now let’s take that and pair it up with “cognitive dissonance”

            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cognitive+dissonance

            A condition of conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions

            It seems to me (with my very basic, uneducated intelligence) that “behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles” and “conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistency between one’s beliefs and one’s actions” are PRACTICALLY THE SAME THING.

            For the record, I state and declare that I DID hear “cognitive dissonance” inside of my mind and did NOT previously know that term in ANY way, not even “unconsciously” or “subconsciously”. I simply have NEVER heard of “cognitive dissonance” ever before except FROM RIGHT INSIDE OF MY OWN HEAD, LIVE, AS I WAS READING. I was “brave” and “courageous” enough to actually type (publicly) exactly what I experienced (heard) inside of my “psycho”, “schizo” head.

            Hallucinations CAN’T BE CORRECT. About anything. And if they are, it isn’t a hallucination.

            Let the professionals look for “cognitive dissonance” in Jani. If they can confirm that, to support their schizophrenia diagnosis … hold on.

            Is anyone truly interested in actually helping the child? Is anyone truly interested in UNDERSTANDING HER?

            Let’s take it a step further:

            What is her INNER CONFLICT? Here’s a clue: she HATES her name. She is RENAMING herself.

            Why?.

            The inner-world is a REAL place. Lots and lots of activity (on the inside). One more time: psyche is NOT a disease.

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          • In reply to mjk: “2. behaviour that appears to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles”. It “appears”. To any unengaged observer, like an mh professional for instance. It may also “appear” so to a parent whose need to himself appear as the perfect parent isn’t met by a child who reacts to the parent reflecting the parent’s imperfection. A psychiatric “symptom” is a reaction to life that is taken out of its context with life. Thus the cognitive dissonance doesn’t happen in the person who’s labeled with “mental illness” on the grounds of psychiatric “symptoms”, but in those who label.

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  3. This story is all over You-Tube, too and it made me so sad I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I remember seeing this letter to Oprah a few years ago and thinking that this list of suggestions was great. So glad to see it re-posted here.

    It’s sad to think how many creatives, spiritualists, or entrepreneurs in our society are being snuffed out by this stuff. I’ve had to do some grief work around this off and on. What’s helped lately is a Bible verse from Jeremiah about “He will restore what the locusts have eaten.” [No offense meant to Non-christians] Much of what I’ve lost to psychiatry has now been restored in my life. Hopefully we can build a way to do this more often for our brothers and sisters and step-children like this in bondage.

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  4. I’ve been following Jani’s case for a while and think her treatment with a mega drug cocktail and her exploitation by the media and her parents is unconscionable. The work with children who hear voices, on the other hand, is inspiring.

    Jacqui, Did they ever receive a response from Oprah? And have you considered sending this letter to the author of the book (Jani’s dad) via his publisher? I do believe he wants to help his child — who I see as creative and gifted as well as disturbed — perhaps, perhaps he would listen.

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    • I agree that the exploitation of Jani is unconscionable. It is also heartbreaking that her creative attempts to survive, i.e. the voices and visions that she experiences, have been so comprehensively misunderstood.

      Fortunately, healing alternatives do exist and the fantastic work of the Voice Collective project in London is a brilliant example of this, an approach that I sincerely hope will become more widely available to children like Jani and their families.

      We never received a response from Oprah but as you suggest, it might be worth trying to send this letter directly to Jani’s father. Perhaps he would listen…

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  5. Here is the family’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/janifoundation?ref=ts&fref=ts

    I resisted medicating my son for three years. Along with the voices, he had painful tactile hallucinations and frightening visual hallucinations. An array of therapists did not help. He is on meds now, which makes me very sad. However, he is no longer tormented by seeing demons cutting off people’s heads, for example. I’m hoping that the new therapist will be able to help him resolve this stuff. My guess is that Jani’s family is simply beside themselves, as am I. My heart goes out to them.

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    • I am sorry to hear about the awful time you and your son have been having. I have met and worked with many families who have been beside themselves with worry about their kids. As a parent I can entirely empathise. That is why I posted the 10-point guide for parents, indicating what they can do if a child tells them that he or she hears voices: from our experiences, the less alarmed parents feel, the better the outcomes for their children.

      I hope that your son is able to get the support from his therapist to make sense of the tormenting experiences that he was having. Wishing you both all the best.

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  6. Prior to her being subjected to the abuse of coercive-medical psychiatry, Jani was severely abused in her home.

    A few years back, Jani’s father was surprisingly forthright, in writing about this, online; yet, some time ago, he began scrubbing his tracks.

    For example, he removed the following two paragraphs from his own blog,http://www.januaryfirst.org (and then took that blog offline):

    “We tried everything. Positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement. Hitting her back (I won’t tell you how many people told us that all she needed was a good beating). We took all her toys away. We gave her toys away. We tried starving her. We did EVERYTHING we could to try and break her. Nothing worked.

    “The violence became so bad that at times Susan and I both lost it and hit Jani as hard as we could. We hit in impotent rage.
    We got a referral to a psychiatrist. Two months later, Janni was hospitalized for the first of what has since been four times, but in truth will be many more times. Today, Jani is no longer a brat. Today, Jani is schizophrenic.”

    Source:

    http://bipolar-stanscroniclesandnarritive.blogspot.com/2009/07/los-angeles-times-reporter-defends.html?showComment=1314932254631

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      • Jacqui,

        If the exact nature of Jani’s current ‘treatment’ can’t be discovered by reading her father’s new book (which I have never read, but which I know is now being featured in the Guardian), I believe we can, nonetheless, reasonably surmise, that Jani is a young person whose parents are – with the help of psychiatrists – drugging her behaviors continually; for, in the course of their seeking help for her, years ago, Jani’s parents came to developing a ‘mental health’ lobbying platform, vis–à–vis Jani’s mom (Susan) hosting her own weekly radio show called, “Bipolar Nation,” and by way of Jani’s dad (Michael) often co-hosting…

        Both parents are outspoken, in their opinions, on that show (as, of course, most radio show hosts will be); sadly (for their kids), not infrequently, they are inclined to broadcast their children’s ‘mental health’ issues on that show. (That said, now, hesitantly, I mention the link to their free podcasts):

        http://www.latalkradio.com/Bipolar.php

        In your comment, above, at January 22, 2013 at 7:50 am, to Chrys, you say:

        “This story is horrifying and aside from Jani’s ‘treatment’ one wonders why her family and the professionals working with her think it is acceptable to invade her privacy in such a way. That in itself disturbs me, never mind what else she is being subjected to.”

        I share your sense of horror. (Indeed, *never* do I cease to be troubled, by the latest example of parents publicizing their kids’ ‘mental health’ issues; personally, I struggle, wondering: is it OK even to discuss the most trivial matters pertaining to my child’s life, online? Hypothetically speaking: can I even mention what I may consider a disappointing report card, in good conscience? I think not. (But, of course, mentioning ones child’s doings, from a position of relative anonymity, might not be so bad. I’m uncomfortable with it, when people do it; but, the anonymous approach may be somewhat more acceptable.) Certainly, I’d not want to be one to attach *any* kid’… read more

  7. First of all, sorry I did not know about the possiblity to sign the paper. In my daily work I meet far too often children and young people coming to our place with psychiatric diagnosis and prescriptions of drugs. Fortunately I am often part of a change, I have the joy to work with people who believe in other things, people who believe in the importance of being present and participating in a relationship to try to find out how come it is like this. And there are answers, always! Not necessarily easily found, not necessarily comfortable, sometimes very painful issues to discover, sometimes with a lot of guilt and sleepless nights. So it is important to be there together with the child and his / her family (if possible). There are no other way. It can never ever be acceptable to define a child or a young person having a psychaitric illness without taking into account the context, life conditions, family, society, etc… And sad to say, but have also very many times met children and young people getting worse in a “professional” context with its manuals, methods, and different criterias. I have a dream about a different approach, about a knowledge which include many people, also the professional “helper”, a knowledge which has to do with trust, hope, taking a responsibilty and to find ways to collaborate.

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    • I agree Carina that there are ALWAYS answers, even if they lead to some very painful, uncomfortable issues. No experience, nor person is utterly incomprehesible, if we are simply willing to be with people, relate to them and really hear what they have to say. Sadly many ‘treatments’ actually make matters so much worse which is a travesty. Fortunately, there are a growing number of us who are expressing our outrage at such misguided attempts to help and who also have the knowledge and experience to advocate ways of working collaboratively that really do help.

      Looking forward to collaborating with you and others in Sweden in April, to help spread the word about what works!

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      • Yes it will be great to see you, and to listen to you of course!
        This morning on my way to work I met a mother and her four years old daughter on their way to day care (or how to call it in English). In the beginning of last autumn a colleauge Hanna and I met the girl and her parents who at that time were in a chock since a psychologist after meeting the girl ONE time had told them that the girl has a very severe autism and has to start medicating and go through psychological tests. They were also told that the girl will never be able to live “a normal” life. Well, to make a long story very short, we have seen the parents during some months and listened to their story over the last ten years and how different things have happenened in their life, and not to say that everything is totally ok by now, but they again trust their own feelings and experiences towards the daughter and have decide not to go back to child psychiatry. Welcome to Gothenburg!!!

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        • This is an all too common experience, in many parts of the world it seems Carina. It just makes me more determined to continue to raise awareness of the harm caused by those who are supposed to help, and of the many excellent alternatives that are developing across the world. This web site is a fantastic way of spreading awareness of both of these crucial issues. Pleased to ‘meet’ you here – very much look forward to meeting you in Gothenburg in the Spring!

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  8. Jacqui,

    This family has received a great deal of publicity in recent years, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the parents have encouraged the child’s dysfunctionality for their own gain. As long as all the criteria for these so-called illnesses are behavioral, this kind of thing is almost inevitable. Most commonly, this takes the form of parents coaching the child with a view to obtaining disability income. But more exotic versions can and do occur.

    Philip Hickey, PhD
    http://behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/

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    • Parents coaching children in order to obtain disability income isn’t something I know much about but I can imagine it happens. As to whether so-called illnesses arebehavioral is open to debate. It seems to me that troubling behaviours are the manifestation and consequence of overwhelming emotions, reactions to the environment, impact of significant relationships etc. Simply switching the frame from illness to behaviour isn’t the answer for me. A focus on it may be part of what helps makes sense of the whole person and their experience…

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  9. I so appreciate this, Jacqui.

    I have been suicidally depressed many times, but I have never heard voices. I have talked with voice-hearers in the hospital very matter-of-factly, but I never thought about this approach until I heard of HVN, just a few weeks ago.

    Your post is enlightening. I am a peer specialist, and I am so grateful for the information I get at MIA. I am in your debt.

    Pam

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  10. I wrote about Jani as an exams project and did a lot of research as her father has used her to promote his blog and later the book based on his blog – and to beg for money. It is one of the most tragic public exploitations of a child I have ever been a witness to. He has been investigated for sexual abuse of jani but never convicted. He has himself written about the violence he and Janis’s mother exposed Jani to before he found out that that was not a smart thing to do on the net. He becomes infuriated if he is criticized on his blog and no form of critique is tolerated so no dialog is ever entered into unless it is basically praising especially him. There are clips when Jani is just weeks old and he is talking about her hallucinating! I concluded after reading, watching video clips and listening to their radio program that we have here a case of what could go under the heading of Munchausen by proxy syndrome. The interview with Oprah btw shows clearly (my opinion) that Oprah is out of her depth and that she believes Jani is ill and addresses her as such.

    However what is also dreadful is we have a psychiatric system prepared to drug Jani to the gills and ignore the family life which in Jani’s case is plastered all over the internet, though now-a-days it is carefully planned and orchestrated. There are clips where it is so obvious Jani is trying to please mom and dad (and the camera) by waving a plastic knife around so that the staff can say she needs to be admitted as violent(!)

    Thanks Jacqui for bringing the plight of this poor child to our attention again, and who knows maybe one day she will read and hear that another truth also exists…

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5 thoughts on “Does “January” Have Schizophrenia or Is it Her Family That is Disturbed?”

  1. Please remember that all the credit for this article except for my introduction and the tags, goes to MIA, Mad in America. Thank Them for their wonderful article. I only wrote the intro and tagged it as I did.

  2. ABSOLUTLEY AMAZING WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE MAKNIG THE WORD A BETTER PLACE AND THAT IS TRUE SUCCESS!!

    love this part:

    “In conclusion we would like to stress that, in our view, labelling a seven-year-old child as schizophrenic and subjecting her to powerful psychotropic medication and periodic hospitalisation is unlikely to help resolve her problems. Indeed, the opposite is most probable: children treated in this way will simply become more powerless.”

  3. In the struggle for civil rights, people living with disabilities seem to take two steps forward and one step back. Though the popularity of memoirs and the rise of the web have given us the ability to share important aspects of our lives and personalities with the non-disabled majority, this media landscape has eviscerated our right to respite from the pressure of “mainstreaming.” Public exposure of our bodies and public contempt for our inability to control our behavior during moments of EXTREME hopelessness and vulnerability is the price that many of us pay for life outside an institution. The privacy laws need to prohibit anyone from disseminating a person’s medical information. Unpaid caregivers who genuinely want to help other people won’t be stifled by the confidentiality laws which govern the speech of their paid counterparts.

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