DER Documentary

When Medicine Got it Wrong

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by Katie Cadigan & Laura Murray
color, 53 min, 2009

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In 1974 a small group of parents became the first in the nation to publicly refuse blame for causing their children to have schizophrenia. They formed Parents of Adult Schizophrenics and their activism led to parents around the nation demanding changes in how the disease is understood and treated.

Parents of Adult Schizophrenics waged their battles in an era when mental hospitals were shutting down and the most severely ill patients were turned over to the promise of community care. Yet that community care rarely materialized.

When Medicine Got it Wrong shows how these families launched one of the fastest growing grassroots movements the nation had seen to date, ushering in an era of dramatic advances in understanding, treatment and brain research.

Medicine now knows that recovery is possible, and happens for the vast majority who receive treatment. Most communities, however, still wrestle with mental healthcare policies based on debunked theories from the 1960s and '70s - pushing many with severe mental illness directly into homelessness or incarceration.

“We failed to understand why parents of a child with leukemia were treated with sympathy and understanding, while parents of a child with schizophrenia were treated with scorn and condemnation”
— Eve Oliphant, 1977 speech, World Congress of Psychiatry
“You could not run a business on the organizational and management structure of the mental health system” — Tony Hoffman, 1978 testimony California State Legislature

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
120th Annual American Psychological Association Convention, USA, 2012
Anthropology Film Festival at UBC, Vancouver, Canada, 2010
NAMI National Convention, San Francisco, 2009
"Frames of Mind" Mental Health Film Series, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2009

TV Broadcasts
PBS broadcast, 2009
KQED broadcast, 2009

Related Resources
Film's Website
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

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