Retired professor Roberta Payne of Denver first suspected she had schizophrenia when she was perusing the Tattered Cover Bookstore in 1985.
She came across a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which doctors use to categorize mental illness. There she found a description of paranoid schizophrenia that fit her persistent delusion: that alien beings controlled her mind.
“It was like all of the sudden you find your birth parents or something,” she said. “You just know: this is who I am.”
Years later, she’d meet Dr. Robert Freedman, an award-winning schizophrenia researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and chair of psychiatry. They formed a friendship on the frontiers of schizophrenia, trading perspective on the disease. Payne chronicled that journey in her book, Speaking To My Madness: How I Searched For Myself In Schizophrenia.
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