Daniel Johnston's 'So-Called Illness'

RECEIVED Thu., May 11, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Re: The Devil and Daniel Johnston: I never knew Daniel, nor was I familiar with his music or art, although we have something in common. We have both been involved with the world of bio-psychiatry. I was lucky enough to survive. I withdrew from drugs several years ago, and friends say my recovery is remarkable.
    Someone needs to tell Mr. Black and the general public about Daniel's so-called “illness” [“Visions Holy and Damned, Innocent and Experienced,” Music, May 5]. He was doomed from the moment he was diagnosed manic-depressive (not a real illness). His parents were duped, like many, by psychiatry. The “wrong medication” indeed! I think the movie said it was Haldol. This proved to be his initiation into the world of bio-psychiatry and his life as a mental patient! It is true, according to the movie, that Daniel had some sort of emotional breakdown after he took LSD (not uncommon), resulting in his involvement with psychiatry and initiation into the world of psych drugs, leaving him never to be “well” again without the consistent use of the mind-altering drugs (another win for big pharma!). Each time he would try to quit, withdrawal effects caused the psychosis displayed in the movie that put himself and others in harm's way. Then came police and forced psychiatry.
    Now, a shell of the creative genious he once was, Daniel has neither the wherewithal nor the initiative, much less the knowledge or support he would need, in order to withdraw from these horrible drugs and get his mind back.
    I cried several times during the movie and am teary eyed now as I write. This is clearly a case of there being no appropriate resource for a magnificent human being in emotional distress.
Ellen Heath
Transformers Support Group
Bio-Psychiatric Survivors, Family and Friends
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