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Why Millennials are ‘Bern-ing’ for Bernie

By Steven Mahoney

Bernie Sanders’s life long history of advocacy for the oppressed and authenticity terrifies the establishment and excites young people while giving them hope and interest in the political process. Sanders promises revolutionary change that excites young people who are fed up with crony capitalism and big money in politics. Some of Sanders’s promises include breaking up “too big to fail” banks, placing more regulation on Wall Street, creating a single payer healthcare system, and providing free college tuition at all public universities.

Primary season kicked off at the beginning of the month with the Iowa Caucus. According to NBC News, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came away with about 50% of the vote with Hillary taking the slight edge. February 9 was the New Hampshire Primary, where according to NBC News, Bernie Sanders came away with 60% of the vote, while Hillary Clinton lagged behind with just 38%. In both of these cases exit polls showed that young voters had a strong preference for Sanders over Clinton. In Iowa, according to an NBC News exit poll, 84% of 17-29 year-olds supported Sanders. While in New Hampshire, 83% of 18-29 year-olds supported Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie of Slate was onto something when he said that Hillary Clinton is a transactional politician, while Bernie Sanders is more ideological. Typically, transactional leadership is compared with transformational leadership. This may be one of the main reasons why Bernie is so successful amongst young voters even though he and Clinton have many similar views politically.

Transactional leaders are managerial leaders who focus on supervision, organization, and group performance. They motivate their followers by reward and punishment, and are typically associated with maintaining the status quo. Bouie says that it is hard to get people excited about a transactional politician, and says this is why Sanders’s campaign has generated so much more enthusiasm than Clinton’s.

Bernie Sanders is a transformational politician whose campaign revolves around the idea of leading a political revolution. Transformational leaders work to implement new ideas and create change by inspiring subordinates with high minded idealism and authenticity. They also encourage followers to think about group interest rather than self-interest.

Hillary Clinton is not fighting for the best interest of working class Americans, nor does she have the foresight needed to create the change our corrupt political system needs. Clinton represents the establishment and everything wrong with the current system. For Clinton the presidency is likely about legacy, power, and ultimately feeding her ego.

Clinton represents the reckless financial sector that many attribute with cause of the Great Recession of 2008. The New York Times reported that Bill and Hillary Clinton have made over $125 million in speaking fees since 2001. The Clintons gave some of those paid speeches to Wall Street firms. The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs paid Clinton $675,000 for three speeches. The Washington Post reported that Bernie Sanders has criticized Hillary Clinton for taking over $15 million dollars in Super Pac money, many of which came from Wall Street. Just last week it was widely reported that the CEO of Goldman Sachs expressed his fear at the idea of a Bernie Sanders presidency.

Young people want real change and not deception and empty promises. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, and everything wrong with the United States, while seeming manufactured. Bernie Sanders is a lifelong advocate for the oppressed, an authentic change maker, and a revolutionary leader. If Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination I will not be voting because that would be reinforcing the oppressive American ideological system of profits over people.

 

UNH Seton Gallery Debuts Spring 2016 Exhibit

Written by Dayna Lindo

This Thursday, February 11, UNH Seton Gallery with artists and director, Laura Marsh will debut well-known artist, Felandus Thames’ most recent works, Whereabouts Unknown. The opening will take place in Dodds Hall from 5pm to 8pm, and will provide coffee, light refreshments, and a relaxing environment, allowing students the opportunity to revel in the art, and exchange thoughts, feelings and experiences.

For the past month, Thames has been working within the UNH community as an artist-in-residence, and has transformed Seton Gallery into a space reflecting his calm, and hospitable demeanor. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, and having spent some of his childhood in Chicago and Detroit, Thames emphasized how important community is to him. He says one thing he likes to do to gain inspiration is walk through his community.

“I like to think about how dollars circulate in the community. I try never to go to the big store, because those dollars go straight out. If I can get my art materials in my community, that’s what I want to do. I don’t care if you’re the white guy, black guy, green guy, indian guy, whatever. I am a stickler about community. And I begin to make relationships with the people who own the shops too. It’s important to me to community build on that level,” replied Thames.

In 2010, Felandus earned his MFA in Paint/Printmaking from Yale University’s School of Art. He described his art studio as a scientific lab, stating that he’s constantly pulling from previous work, and scrapping other ideas completely.

“My work is self-reflective in a weird kind of way. I think about my personal experiences, but I also try not to make it too personal. I teach a little bit, but I try not to be too didactic. I also try to think about myself, outside of myself, and what people may want to gain from experiencing me. I allow multiple discourses to happen at once in my work,” said Thames.

Thames revealed that his inspiration for this particular show was the prison industrial complex. He talked briefly about his love for haikus, and how two books in particular helped him build inspiration for his most recent works, ”Ideas of Ancestry” by Etheridge Knight (central theme) and S.O.S by Amiri Baraka.

Laura Marsh, the director and curator of Seton Gallery, as well as the owner of her own gallery in Downtown New Haven, expressed what she hopes students will take away from the experience of an artist-in-residence.

“Our university talks a lot about experiential education, and interdisciplinary studies. I’ve noticed that a lot of the conversations that I’ve been a part of here, or at Yale, surrounding the idea of race, always has breaking point. As an artist myself, I think when artists work together to build on personal narratives, or community, it is essential to keep that dialogue going,” Marsh explained.

Marsh stated that when race is discussed in a classroom, most of the time, she feels it is discussed in a very didactic manner, and is not always humanizing. She expressed frustration to this practice, and hopes that the gallery will be an experiential learning experience for students to create a new dialogue in how sensitive topics are discussed.

“If there is a way to discuss personal narratives, and how communities can relate to each other through class, through objects, through sharing, but also talk about the work, where its coming from, and the diaspora; when all of those things can connect, a point of intersection happens,” stated Marsh, “I hope there will be more experiences where, instead of attempting to cover 30 years of U.S. history in one class session, we could share family experiences.”

Marsh concluded that the end result of the exhibit is definitely important to her and Felandus Thames, but the reason she asks students to come and visit before the debut, is because it is important to her that students  actively share in the experiences leading up to opening day.

The Hell We Don’t See:A Look at the Aspects and Consequences of Domestic Violence

by Kristen Lee

“My name is Christine, I don’t mind my real name being used, as I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

I met my first partner in 1984. He seemed a nice easy going polite man, until due to my circumstances, I moved in with him about a month later, I began to see and feel the other side of him. He found a letter to another man whilst rummaging through my things, this letter was an old letter that I’d never got round to posting, just a friendly letter that is all, that got me my first slap, because he loved me and was jealous, and of course he was sorry.

After that the beatings came thick and fast, for whatever reason entered his head, and the sexual abuse came with it: walking sticks, pens and other items put into me because I deserved it and I couldn’t get him done for rape.

He was charged and found guilty in 1986 of G.B.H (grievous bodily harm) with intent after breaking my jaw and giving me numerous other injuries including a bruise on my vagina that was 10 cm long.

He did a year in prison and was released on good behavior, I went back to him thinking this would change him; it never did, so after seven years in total I finally left him. By this time I had two sons by him I think they gave me some strength to leave for good.

A year or so later I met my next partner, who again seemed nice and understanding, I told him about my ex, which to him must have been a ticket to do the same, so again I had another seven years of physical and mental abuse, more mental than anything.

The final straw with him came when he broke my nose whilst I was feeding our baby son. Enough was enough and I left again, took my children and moved to the other side of the country.

I have a new partner whom I have been with for coming up to eight years; he has and never will lay a hand on me or turn on the mental abuse

It never was my fault and I’m not ashamed of what happened to me which was a lot more than I have written here, it has made me who I am today, and believe it or not I am proud of myself for being able to sit here and write this, and if my story can be a help to others it will not have been for nothing.”

 

Christine’s story is one of many found on a website called “Hidden Hurt.” Unfortunately, there are way too many stories similar to Christine’s, or at least covering the same topic. Unlike Christine, several women are too ashamed to come right out and say it, share their real name or information, or even ever tell anybody their story or what is happening to them. They are ashamed, embarrassed, and scared. Several of these women or men truly believe that the abuse that occurs is their fault.

 

Due to these beliefs and feelings, many people in these situations are not as fortunate as Christine is. They may end up living their whole life with someone who abuses them, or they may not to get to even live that whole life because the abuse puts an end to it. Even if some victims do get it, they struggle to rebuild their life without them. They are not comfortable, they are afraid, they are broken, and many of them struggling with conditions like Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Domestic violence can include a wide range of several things. The signs may include things such as name-calling or putdowns, keeping someone from contacting family or friends, withholding money, stopping a partner from working, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, stalking, intimidation, and many more. The abuse can be verbal or physical, and can happen to people in any type of relationship.

 

Did You Know?

Shockingly, one in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. This means that an estimated 1.3 women will be a victim of physical or mental assault by an intimate partner each year. Even more shocking and devastating is the fact the most of these cases of domestic violence are never even reported to this police or anyone, and out of these cases that are reported, less than one-fifth sought medical treatment when the injury occurred. These tragic incidents are responsible for almost one-third of female homicide victims, and for the surviving victims, these domestic violence cases lead to more than 18.5 million mental health care visits per year. The survivors are at high risk for depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other types of mental and emotional distress.

Warning Signs

One of the biggest warning signs of a relationship involving domestic abuse is if you notice fear in one of the partners. If they seem like they are walking on eggshells around their partner, they are probably afraid of upsetting them for a reason. Also, if you ever notice a partner belittling their partner, yelling, humiliating, criticizing them, ignoring their opinions and accomplishments, or treating them as an object in any way, there is probably abuse involved. If you notice certain aspects of a friend’s life being controlled such as where they go and who they see, limiting access to money, limiting access to the phone or a car, and constantly and overwhelmingly checking up on them this is also abusive in most cases. The most common tactics that an abuser will use are dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial, and blame. Any action or behavior involving a partner inflicting any of these onto their partner should be watched for as physical abuse may be involved.

 

Several of the signs listed above may be hard to notice in another person, but make sure to watch for them in your own relationships. In terms of helping out your friend, some of the following warning signs may be easier to spot. If a person seems overly anxious to please their partner, if they check in frequently to let them know exactly what they are doing, go along with anything their partner says and does, or if they talk about their partner’s excessive jealousy and possessiveness. Warning signs of physical violence may include frequent minor injuries being attributed to “accidents,” frequently missing work or school without any explanation, or dressing in clothing designed to hide multiple bruises and scars. They

may be being isolated by their partner if they seem restricted from seeing family and friends, rarely go out in public without their partner, or have limited access to items such as money, phones, or a car.  Psychologically and emotionally, these victims may portray very low self-esteem, go through a major personality change, or display signs of depression or anxiety.

 

As mentioned before, trying to help a victim out of a domestic abuse situation can be tricky. It will help to talk to the person in private and let them know exactly what you have seen to make you worried. Make sure to be very supportive and avoid any judgment or blame placement on the victim. These victims may be confused, ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid, so dealing with them may be a very delicate situation.

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Common Myths About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence only happens to poor women of color.

This is not true! Domestic violence can happen to any people of any class, culture, religion, race ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, or sex.

Some people deserve to be hit.

Absolutely not. Physical violence is illegal, especially among families and households. The victim is certainly not responsible for the abuse, although they may doubt that themselves, and the only person to blame is the abuser themselves.

Domestic Violence is a personal problem between the members of a relationship.

Abuse can lead to severe injuries, mental illnesses, and death. That should not be something that the abuser gets to decide. Also, several people that abuse their partner also abuse children that may be involved in the relationship. Members of society should certainly care about the well-being and care of someone else, especially children who may not be able to defend themselves. These abusers should be stopped from hurting other victims or their current victim no matter what.

If it were that bad she would just leave.

Now this is one that I especially feel strongly about. There are several reasons why a victim of domestic violence might not leave a relationship. The victim might be scared, there might be children involved, they might not know the power they have to leave and live on their own, or several other various reasons. When people assume that just because a person doesn’t leave that it means everything is ok, or even worse that they want to be abused, they are completely wrong and have no right to make that statement or assumption. An example of this has been happening recently in popular news.

The story between Rihanna and Chris Brown is well-known. After he has allegedly beat her, she has returned to him. Several people do not understand this so they put it down, and that is very disappointing. Just the other day my friend said, “I am so disappointed in her for going back to him after what happened.” That statement was offensive, not fair, and morally wrong in every way. Rihanna does not deserve “disappointment” for making a decision like that. Victims like her can truly believe there partner has changed and want to give them another chance. Plus someone who has never experienced the sort of hell that is involved in domestic violence thinks that it would never be them, that they would not get caught up in that or ever go back to someone like that, but it usually isn’t the case that the victim has a choice. Due to physical and mental constraints, the victim may not be able to leave. And several people will not understand this, but there is a sort of comfort that victim may feel with an abusive partner. It is the sort of life they know as normal, just like prisoners may become institutionalized or war may become the new “normal” for veterans.

 

The Violence Wheel and Cycles of Violence

Violence and abuse is almost never a one time thing. It is a constant cycle of the tension building, incident, making-up, calm, and once again leading back around to the next time the tension begins to build. The cycle can take any amount of time to complete and may happen numerous times throughout a relationship. In some severe cases, the making-up and calm stages disappear from the cycle.

The Violence Wheel is something that has been developed to look at and understand the different ways of abuse that the perpetrator may use to keep control of their partner.

Domestic Violence and Mental Illness

Several women who were victims of domestic violence end up isolating themselves, with depression, or with post-traumatic stress disorder. This is due to the psychological damage that the physical and verbal abuse can cause. One out of every four women who are victims of domestic abuse attempt suicide. After experiencing the abuse, several women tend to blame themselves for the abuse or everything that goes wrong. The abuser manipulates the victim into believing that everything is their fault. This learned behavior of self-blame only worsens the depression that the victim may be feeling and many times they see suicide as the only way out. A study conducted by Bargari, Ben-Shakar, and Shalev in 2007 tested the relationship between abuse and development of disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).The study looked at several different kinds of abuse, and questioned women to look for symptoms of abuse as well as any symptoms of MDD and PTSD. The results of this study showed that battered women are more likely to develop and show signs up MDD and PTSD. These findings should be addressed to decrease the affect that abuse has on women after the fact and try to lessen the burden of abuse.

There also several findings that show how several women try turning to drugs or alcohol after they experience abuse, but this can only lead to more physical or emotional damage. The best thing to do according to The Office on Women’s Health is to speak with a counselor or doctor if you have any of the common feelings of numbness, anxiety, shock, anger, or fear. Everyone is different and these feelings are completely normal so there is no reason for any woman to be ashamed.

Changes to the Victim’s Life

Along with mental health problems, domestic violence can also cause several changes to the victim’s life. According to studies, abuse can change the sexual preference and behavior of a person. It can change the way a victim views themselves and others, as well as impact their way of thinking and acting. A study done by Abrams and Stefan (2012) investigated case studies of three different women involved in therapy. The findings of these study show that due to abuse at an earlier time in their life, they not only struggled with depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, but also showed that masochism and humiliation in sexual preference are a direct impact of abuse. The women did not trust other people, and also showed a pattern of blaming themselves for many things in life because of a directly learned behavior of blame from their abuser.

Story Time

I personally know someone who has experienced several of the things talked about above. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk with her to listen to some of her experiences and how she has dealt with them. She gave me permission to use her story, as long as her name remains unknown. For argument’s sake, let’s call her Hannah.

 

Hannah is currently involved in a relationship with someone who she has had some issues with in the past. Also for argument’s sake, let’s name her boyfriend Dexter. They have been doing very well for a while now to eliminate any concern for her. Hannah and Dexter have been involved with each other for almost two years now. Luckily for Hannah, his cycle of violence is not one that gets to the tension building stage very often. According to her, there have been three main incidents between the two of them. When Hannah and Dexter first started with each other, things escalated pretty quickly. The first time they had sex, Hannah was drunk and saying no at first. She said that when he started to show anger and signs of aggression, she became fearful and gave into his will. Hannah says that she understands that by definition this is rape, but she also feels that several things could have done by her to completely avoid that situation. She says that matters to her. Although rape is never the victim’s fault, Hannah does not want to put all the blame on Dexter in that situation.

When I asked her how she coped with this, Hannah said, “Although it was scary and still sometimes upsetting, to me it wasn’t something so serious to report or even have to get over.” She attributed it to a drunken night, and stayed involved with Dexter having consensual, non-aggressive interactions with him.

 

The second time an incident occurred was a little harder for Hannah to deal with. It was another scenario of rape and aggression, but this time Hannah was sober. Hannah gave me the basics of the situation but said she preferred not to disclose some details of this incident with me. After this, Hannah stopped talking to Dexter for a while. With the help of some of her really great friends, she was able to talk some of her feelings and frustrations about the situation out. She had minor injuries, but did not get care or treatment for any of them. Hannah and Dexter talked things through again, and this time Hannah decided to take it slow. They had minimal contact for a little while, until things eventually rekindled. After that, things were great between them for eight months.

The last incident Hannah told me about shocked me a little bit. Once again, not all details were disclosed. While there was a group of people over at Dexter’s house, Hannah and Dexter got into an argument. Hannah was drunk and feeling very bold, so since she was so angry she proceeded to talk back and yell at Dexter during this argument. She said that she was so mad and trying to get his attention that she hit him in the face. That threw Dexter into an angry rage and he became very aggressive with her (details were not disclosed about this part), but eventually things lead to Dexter literally throwing Hannah out of the room onto their kitchen floor. The other people in the house obviously heard the commotion and rushed to keep Dexter away from Hannah after. A friend drove Hannah home and tended to her minor injuries.

 

After that, Hannah and Dexter did not have any communication at all, but it was Dexter who did not talk to Hannah even though she attempted to speak to him. She blames herself for this incident and very upset not having Dexter in her life. She said, “Even though I know we have our issues, he is my best friend. I feel like he is the only one who truly understands me, and I honestly don’t know what to do without him.” Hannah was struggling for a while and decided to go to counseling. She said talking through it helped a little, but the only person she wanted to talk to was Dexter.

 

Although Hannah and Dexter are doing well now, incidents like these changed the ways of Hannah’s thinking and a lot of her behaviors. She shared that her and her counselor discovered a trend of self-blame due to a lot of these incidents. She is very dependent on Dexter, yet she understands that things could go wrong if she isn’t careful. He also understands his wrongdoings, which is a step in the right direction for them. Him being away from her also made him understand how much he needed her as well and he doesn’t want to do anything that would cause him to lose her.  It is apparent that this situation did take several tolls on Hannah’s life and cause her to be very burdened by several thoughts and things. Hopefully they will continue to keep going strong together.

 

Domestic Violence more of an issue in society than many people realize. Unfortunately, several women are not able to and never get the chance to speak out about their situation or make a better life for themselves. Some one you know may be going through hell at home and most people will not even realize or recognize it. To keep friends and family safe, people should learn about and make themselves very familiar with the warning signs of domestic violence, but also should know that they should approach any situation with caution to avoid any incidents with themselves or within the relationship. These victims have dealt with a sort of confinement that some people can never imagine and hopefully will never have to see. They are confined by their partners, as well as judgments from certain parts of society. The best thing others can do for them is understand them. All they may need to get out of this hell is a little support and information.

Kristen Lee

Struggling with Schizophrenia in the 21st Century: Media, Misconception, and Marginalization

Schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that affects thinking, emotions, and behavior, has a prevalence rate of about 1.1 percent of the world’s population over the age of eighteen according to the Schizophrenia Research Forum. In other terms, 51 million people worldwide suffer from this disease, with an astonishing 100,000 diagnoses per year just within the United States.

The relative prevalence of schizophrenia compared to other well-known diseases indicates that schizophrenia is two-times more prevalent than Alzheimer’s, five-times more than Multiple Sclerosis, six-times more than Insulin-Dependent Diabetes, and sixty-times more than Muscular Dystrophy. However, although cases of schizophrenia are extremely frequent in our society, it seems the stigmas associated with the illness have increased steadily within the United States.

According to a study published in 2011 within the Yearbook of Psychiatry and Applied Mental Health , there is an association not only between those with schizophrenia and perceptions of danger, but an association between those with schizophrenia and social distance as well. Participants in the study not only viewed those with this mental illness as more dangerous than “normal” members of society, but also sought to actively avoid these individuals. Unfortunately, the common misconceptions regarding schizophrenia directly influence the marginalization and stereotyping of this group; generally speaking, those suffering from schizophrenia are labeled as “dangerous” and “violent” by mainstream media, which only improperly portrays the true nature of this illness.

How many thrillers and horror movies implement a schizophrenic villain as the main antagonist?  How many times have newspapers highlighted extreme cases of psychosis, only to draw negative attention to the entire schizophrenic community? These negative and stigmatizing roles have a detrimental impact on individuals who suffer from the illness.  To highlight this, the article “The Lifetime Risk of Suicide in Schizophrenia” indicates that those suffering with schizophrenia, on average, are fifty-times more likely to attempt suicide than the general public, with 40% of the entire schizophrenic population attempting suicide at least once.

Many sufferers who are diagnosed with schizophrenia develop symptoms in early adulthood, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five.  The two groups of symptoms relating to schizophrenia, which are described as “positive” and “negative,” often leave sufferers struggling with delusions, thought disorders, hallucinations, and conflicting emotional behavior. Although there is no concrete evidence to support a single cause of schizophrenia, the leading theory today reveals that it may be a result of a genetic predisposition combined with environmental exposures or stresses during pregnancy and early childhood.

With these ideas in mind, I sought to find an individual suffering from schizophrenia in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the illness’s influence on the individual, as well as how this individual copes with society on a day-to-day basis. To my dismay, I found that not one individual was willing to speak with me regarding their experiences with schizophrenia for fear they would be chastised or otherwise looked down upon by others. The fear and hesitation that characterized these responses was not only saddening, but served as further proof of the harmful effects of stereotyping and stigmatizing the mentally ill.

Frustrated and deflated, I decided to search the Internet to find a person who was willing to speak with me. Upon searching, I was surprised to find hundreds upon hundreds of support forums dedicated to those living with schizophrenia, with active members who seemed to greatly benefit from their participation. Being a long-time Reddit user, I found that there was a support group on the site, which I immediately posted to. I posted a simple request asking members of the community to message me if they felt comfortable sharing their stories, and I was blown away by the responses. In an hour there were about fifteen messages in my inbox, each detailing the individual’s difficulties, their symptoms, and their hopes for the future. Out of the fifteen individuals, I chose two to further correspond with to highlight the uniqueness of the illness. Both of these individuals has requested I not use their real names, but instead their Reddit account names.

The first message I received contained the subject line “Crush the stereotype.” When I clicked on the message, I was greeted by an entire story outlining a young woman’s struggle with schizophrenia, and her hopes to be perceived as just a “normal” girl by society. Kitty__kat__, a twenty-two year old woman, is a former professional violinist and will be graduating from a prestigious nursing school next week. As Kitty and I talked more, I came to realize that not only was she willing to share her story with me, but that she was encouraging me to share her story to our class.

Kitty has been suffering from schizophrenia since she could remember; before knowing what was wrong with her, she described having “illusions” in which she would see things not as they are: a pile of laundry as a cat, or a mailbox as a “scary man.” Kitty described these illusions as extremely confusing, especially as a young child, because she was unable to discern what was real and what was not for a split second. However, like most sufferers of schizophrenia, Kitty’s illusions transformed into full-blown hallucinations with time, peaking when she was about nine years old.

“I had my first hallucination/delusion/paranoid thought when I was 9 years old. I was in the pool in my backyard, and I saw a blonde head fly past the pool,” Kitty said. “I was convinced that it was going to kill me and waited an extremely long time for my mom to come watch me get out of the pool. Just standing there terrified. To this day, I still check around the pool for that blond head and won’t get in the pool unless someone is with me.”

Unlike Kitty, the majority of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia do not experience symptoms until early adulthood. In fact, the onset of schizophrenia is incredibly rare before the age of ten, and even harder to diagnose due to children’s inability to accurately describe their condition and symptoms.

Because Kitty was so young, she states that she didn’t think anything was wrong with her: “I thought everyone experienced this. I thought it was a part of growing up.” However, as time progressed, Kitty’s hallucinations began interfering with her everyday life.  Kitty soon realized, upon discussing her hallucinations with a friend, that there was something very, very wrong. As she confided in her friend, Kitty could only recognize the look of horror that washed over her friend’s face. It was from that day forth that Kitty knew she was different. Like thirty-two percent of schizophrenics who do not receive treatment, Kitty attempted to hide from her illness, to ignore it until it cured itself. Yet, everything came to a screeching halt when she started high school. “When I walked to school, the shadow men would follow me (big hooded creatures with glowing red eyes). My mom wanted me to go to the school psychologist to make sure I was ok with everything. During that first visit, the shadow men came out and he put me in group therapy.”

Kitty recalls understanding that, unlike the portrayals of schizophrenics, the hallucinations of these “shadow men” were not real. Yet, it wasn’t the hallucinations that terrified her, it was the implication of these hallucinations and what they meant. What was wrong with her? Kitty found it impossible to ask her friends these questions; she felt alienated and alone, unable to relate to the girls her age.

 Kitty recollects that group therapy was a waste of time: “It was mostly filled with kids who had suicidal ideation. While I realize that this is serious, there was no one like me with an undiagnosed serious mental illness.” As Kitty was pushed from group therapy to individual therapy, her hallucinations transformed from visual to auditory. The voice that most disturbed Kitty, naming itself “The Devil,” would follow her everywhere she went. She could here his deep, guttural voice creeping up on her during tests, in her sleep, and in the shower. After “The Devil,” Kitty states that Willis and Wilson came out to “play” with her.“These two liked to fight (screaming and yelling) about how best to kill me. They wanted it messy and painful. Guns, knives, whatever they could think of and they’d describe it in detail. Every. Single. Day. Their favorite time to fight was when I was trying to sleep. The shadow men were still around.”

These auditory and visual hallucinations are characterized as “positive” symptoms of schizophrenia. Positive, in this sense, refers to the addition of something, such as voices or figures. For many, these voices, such as the ones Kitty experienced, are violent and derogatory in nature. Voices can be distressing to those with schizophrenia, especially if they involve abuse or threats, because the sufferer believes he or she must obey the voice’s demands in fear of being punished.

            After a year of being subjected to group therapy, with the sudden onset of many more hallucinations, Kitty was referred to a psychiatrist by her school. Yet, to Kitty’s surprise, her psychiatrist consistently accused her of being a liar and that her symptoms were “a part of her imagination”. Kitty was forced to take medication, Trazodone, for an anxiety disorder she did not have. Even at the age of fourteen, Kitty was well aware that the medicine prescribed to her would not work, and it didn’t. Symptoms were resurfacing, as brutal as ever, and Kitty found it hard to live a normal life.  Like most sufferers of schizophrenia, Kitty considered suicide to end not only her own pain, but the pain her mother was experiencing from watching her only daughter spiral downwards.

            It was only after four grueling years of dealing with hallucinations, delusions, and paranoid thinking, that Kitty was finally able to be tested for what she already knew was schizophrenia. After graduating high school, Kitty was determined to find out what was wrong with her. After failed attempts at trying to convince her own doctor to test her for schizophrenia, Kitty’s first stop on her new university’s campus was to the counseling and psychological services. Kitty went from being diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder to having “paranoid schizophrenia, combined type ADHD, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, insomnia, and PTSD (from hallucinations).” After finding a doctor she truly trusted, Kitty was able to gain access to the treatment and medication that she desperately needed. Since being diagnosed, Kitty has been symptom-free for a year, and has plans to lower her medication doses in the future.

            As per her initial request, Kitty wants to crush the stereotype those living with schizophrenia cannot live normal lives. Kitty, a former professional violinist and a future nurse, has accomplished everything that she has set out to accomplish, regardless of society’s preconceived notions about her.  Though, as a child, Kitty felt like she wasn’t normal in comparison to other people, she now accepts her differences and appreciates them even more.

            The next message I received was from a twenty-four year old man, currently enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. CryztalMath, as his username read, messaged me to help spread the idea that not all those who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are “crazy lunatics who need to be locked away.” As I began speaking with Cryztal, I asked him about the symptoms he was experiencing, and how he learned how to cope with them.

            Beginning when he was twenty, Cryztal began hearing voices that he knew was not his own. As time passed, he recognized that there might be something wrong with him- all he could think about was his “homicidal and suicidal” urges. Though Cryztal was diagnosed, he, like forty-five percent of schizophrenics, decided not to pursue medication for his illness

“I’ve learned better ways to control it and block it out. While it’s never gone, it’s “more quiet” as I like to say,” Cryztal said.  “My family has supported my decision not to be on medication. I’m a fighter and I believe any battle can be won if you fight hard enough. For me it’s a conflict and I don’t lose. Determination is key when it comes to things like this. I won’t be what the doctors said I would be.”

Cryztal firmly believes that he doesn’t need to be on medication, and he trusts that other people will respect his decision. While we talked, Cryztal spoke scornfully of those who attempt to put people suffering from mental illnesses in a “box”- not only a physical prison, but a mental prison as well. The sad truth surrounding schizophrenia is not only are those affected considered violent, but they are also considered to be mentally impaired in some form. Though the general public believes schizophrenics to be violent, violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia. In fact, those suffering from schizophrenia are more likely to withdrawal from others and society, a result of the “negative” symptoms.

            When I asked Cryztal to share his thoughts regarding the stereotype that many schizophrenics are violent he explained that “it was one thing that always pissed me off about people’s misconception of this illness.” As he went on, Cryztal explained to me that nobody, except for his parents, know about his illness. He wanted to keep that piece of himself private. Though he is proud to be living proof that you can, with great effort, live a normal life, he is still unsure whether others will accept him. Even within the Marines, which is a group notorious for creating a sense of camaraderie, Cryztal fears that he will be casted out if his fellow Marines found out the truth.

            Though I only spoke to Cryztal for a short period of time, I feel like his narrative is essential to share. Like Kitty, Cryztal is living a normal, functional life despite his label as a “schizophrenic” and continues to pursue his career within the Marines.

            Though schizophrenia affects more than 51 million people worldwide, it’s clear that there is still many components of the illness that are left unknown, which leaves room for misinformation, stereotyping, and stigmatization. In contrasting both Kitty and Cryztal’s story, it’s possible to see that many individuals can lead normal, functional lives after diagnosis. Though both of these individuals chose to find different paths in life, both are able to pursue their goals, whether it is as a nurse or a Marine. Combating the stereotype of schizophrenic’s being violent, Kitty and Cryztal are living proof that there is more to a human than the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding them.

 

Caroline Pasquale

Every Dollar Counts

Despite the late start to spring weather, more than 1,000 people poured into West Haven High School on Sunday, April 6, to check-in for the 20th annual Multiple Sclerosis walk, sponsored by the University of New Haven’s SMILE club and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Many of those who walked on Sunday are annual participants, like Jessica Bloom, a 26-year-old who has just been diagnosed with MS for the second time in her life.

Eight years ago Bloom was diagnosed with MS.  She became blind in one eye and doctors told her there were lesions on her brain, caused by inflammation and damage to nerves.

“I was extremely lucky that over time my eyesight came back and the lesions became smaller and smaller,” Bloom said.  “For those eight years I was in remission.”

Bloom’s case seemed to be looking up.

In February of this year, her eyesight weakened in the previously unaffected eye. After a series of tests, the doctors informed her that the MS had come back.

Due to this relapse, Bloom is embarking on new medication to defeat MS a second time.

More than 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by MS, and about 85 percent of patients are initially diagnosed with this relapsing/remitting MS, according to the National MS Society.

University of New Haven’s SMILE club is trying to diminish those numbers and create awareness in their partnership with the MS Society.

Students Making an Impact on their Living Environment, SMILE, is a community service and volunteer-based organization, taking part in numerous community service events around the New Haven area.  SMILE partners with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which strives to find a cure for those living with MS.

According to the society, multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system.  MS interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

The most unsettling aspect of MS is that the cause is still unknown.  According to the MS Society, scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factor(s) in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.

The SMILE club plans the walk every year with the aid of three national MS employees, in an attempt to create awareness for MS and patients like Bloom.

“We only meet with them about four times in the year of planning, so we really do everything on our own,” said Marissa Feldman, senior at UNH and president of the UNH SMILE club.

She has been an active member for four years.

“We have a really great partnership with SMILE,” said Eric Szafran, clinical partnerships and direct services manager at the National MS Society.  “They handle the logistics, bring the manpower and hard work needed, and the MS Society provides the support and structure.”

The SMILE club organizes all aspects of the MS walk year round, from donation of food, to the entertainment, to registration and booking.  The revenue from this year’s walk has not been announced yet, Feldman said.

Yale University Medical Center is a sponsor of the MS walk.  The UNH SMILE club also provides raffle prizes that raised $289.16 this year, according to Feldman.

All of the money goes to the MS Society, in hopes to help find a cure and make better lives for those living with MS, like Bloom.

“As an otherwise healthy 26 year old, I will not let this define who I am or take over my life,” Bloom said.  “I am extremely fortunate to have great insurance and an amazing support system.  Others are not so lucky.”

Bloom calls attention to the MS walks and the importance of donations for those living with the disease.  “The money goes towards paying for doctor visits, therapy, medication and a cure,” said Bloom.  “Every dollar counts.”

To donate to the national MS Society or find out more information on walking for a cure, visit their website at http://www.nationalmssociety.org.

Christina Tomarelli

Arts and Sciences Dean Discusses Islam with University Faculty

On Wednesday, April 2, professors and lecturers that represented a host of disciplines across the University of New Haven’s College of Arts and Sciences attended a presentation on Islam from Lourdes Alvarez Ph.D., the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Islam, Pluralism and Justice: The Case of the Animals versus Man, was a lecture concerning aspects of Islam that encompassed several years of Alvarez’ research. The presentation focused on three topics of discussion: the presence of pluralism and tolerance during the spread of Islam, the political, cultural and religious fragmentation in medieval Islamic culture, and the Brethren of

Purity, a secret 10th century Islamic society whose members were considered too mystical to be philosophers and too rational to be mystics.

Throughout her presentation, Alvarez highlighted the importance of Islamic influence on the development of mathematics, science, and technology. The spread of Islamic culture, Alvarez notes, led to the beginning of comparative linguistics, a knowledge-based economy, and an accepted diversity of religion. Alvarez also referenced texts written by the Brethren of Purity that explored the ethics of human and animal relations and reflected the different ages and cycles of Islams.

The roots for Alvarez’ interests in the Islamic culture stem from her Spanish origins, Alvarez said. The influence of Arabic on 

Spanish language and Islamic culture on Spanish life was “like an ocean,” and Alvarez admits that she has only reached “the tip of the iceberg” with her research.

When asked how faculty members could incorporate Alvarez’ findings into their classrooms, Alvarez stated that the lessons that can be taken from Islamic culture are almost universal.

“The biggest takeaway,” Alvarez said, “is that thinkers from the 10th century may have had modern approaches to religion and tolerance.”

Stuart Sidle Ph.D., the Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives for the College of Arts and Sciences and the faculty member who introduced Dean Alvarez at the start of the meeting, said that the Arts and Sciences Lecture Series are a great way for 

College faculty members to meet each other, since they rarely get a chance to branch out from their departments. Faculty members went around and introduced themselves and their fields of study prior to the lecture. 

Spencer Poulin (Class of 2014)