Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I don't even know where to begin. I am upset that a well know psychiatrist would publicly diagnose Joaquin  with a mental disorder without ever meeting him. I mean ethically, this doctor should have his license removed. From what I have read, no doctor can diagnose a patient with schizophrenia unless he/she has exhibited symptoms (from a criteria) for at least six months. It's bad enough that this doctor would attempt to convince the public that Joaquin is suffering from a mental disorder but the worst part, he has succeeded in fueling stigma. If you haven't already heard about this story, Paul Dobransky — a relationships expert and author of The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love (maybe he's trying to sell more books) — told the Los Angeles Times:

"I am NOT Dr. Drew, and thus cannot diagnose any drug-related abuse problems. If he is on drugs, he needs DR.DREW; however, after observing Joaquin Phoenix, it is apparent he is schizophrenic. Schizophrenia causes DELUSIONAL THINKING, LACK OF EMOTION, POOR HYGIENE, PARANOIA COMBINED WITH TICKING OF THE SPEECH, AND THIS PSYCHOTIC DISORDER CAUSES LOSS OF OR A SPLIT FROM REALITY. I believe Joaquin Phoenix needs medical attention." For the fans that adore him, they need to focus on the solution. Joaquin has plainly stated, "This is not a hoax."

And I got to be honest, but Phoenix’s rep, Susan Patricola, was on the money with her response:

“How absolutely inappropriate for a doctor who has no personal interaction or relationship with someone to diagnose them [...] And to do so in a public forum [...] Hope they spelled his name right. Another 15-minute ‘expert’ is born!” (

What we have here is yet another example of how this illness is so misunderstood. When a doctor makes a claim like this, most people (who are not very educated about mental illness, and I say this because it is true) assume that it is true if it came from a doctor. This doctor has also shown that it's OK to judge others and claim that they have a mental disorder simply because of their behavior. Can I tell someone that they have a stomach ache? Dobransky has succeeded in creating an inaccurate image of mental illness (long beard, speech problems, acting out of the ordinary). We rarely see a realistic representation of schizophrenia (other than a handful of movies). When will we start representing recovery? It will take more than my a grass roots cause but I will keep trying to find creative ways to reach the public. Well, what I think is that this doctor should be reprimanded by making a public statement in which he apologizes for his claim and should educate the public about schizophrenia. This would be a very good opportunity to put to rest some of the myths & stereotypes.  

Beyond this story, lets think about WHY everyone is so concerned about Joaquin's behavior. I think he makes it obvious just how consumed our society is with NORMAL. "Sit up straight, comb your hair, don't cause a scene." Haven't we all grown bored with normal? I have. His interview with Letterman just proves how fascinated we are with anything out of the ordinary. Let's embrace our differences and willingness to push the envelope. For all we know, the jokes on us.  


  1. I read in an interview that it was all a publicity stunt. So sad that mental illness was brought into it

  2. Plenty of people look like Joaquin Phoenix does in the photo you posted.