For years Dr. Crane, a professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in the western hills of Cincinnati, sought a way to enlighten her students and others about the ordinary people who live with schizophrenia despite its extraordinary burdens – the confused thinking, the delusions, the hallucinations, the anxiety and fear. Then she discovered a tool more commonly used among sociologists and anthropologists: oral history. Employing the device to examine schizophrenia has shifted her own perspective about a disease she thought she knew well.
For the past three years, on their own time and with no outside money, Dr. Crane and a fellow Mount St. Joseph psychologist, Tracy McDonough, have built the Schizophrenia Oral History Project. So far they have recruited two dozen people to sit down with them and a voice recorder, asking their “narrators” simply: What’s it like to be you?