Ending the erasure: Oral history project documents the lives and struggles of schizophrenia patients

CINCINNATI - In her experience, Cincinnati psychologist Lynda Crane found that of all the injuries inflicted by schizophrenia, the greatest could be the pain of being forgotten. The diagnosis, she believes, somehow erases the person. Families often shun a sick relative. Busy care providers dealing with symptoms can lose sight of the human being at the core.

For years, Crane sought a way to enlighten her students and others about the ordinary souls who manage to live with schizophrenia despite its extraordinary burdens: confused thinking, delusions, hallucinations, fear. Then Crane discovered a tool more commonly used among sociologists and anthropologists: oral history. Employing the device with people who are schizophrenic has shifted her own perspective about a disease the professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph thought she knew so well.

“People with schizophrenia do not lose their individuality, even when the illness is very severe,” Crane said. "What I discovered through oral history is that it’s not about schizophrenia. It’s about a complexity of life that is very hard to get at any other way.”

Become a WCPO Insider to meet three people who have shared their stories with the Schizophrenia Oral History Project and learn how telling their stories is helping people living with the disorder.

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