By Tom Pyle
Take These Broken Wings. A Film By Daniel Mackler, 2008. With Joanne Greenberg, Catherine Penney, Daniel Dorman, MD, Peter Breggin, MD, Robert Whitaker, Bertram Karon, PhD, Danielle Knafo, PhD, Ann-Louise Silver, MD.
In his 75 minute documentary, Take These Broken Wings, social worker and filmmaker Daniel Mackler bucks the conventional wisdom about schizophrenia. Cleverly juxtaposing man-on-the-street interviews with testimonies of Catherine Penney and Joanne Greenberg, fully recovered individuals formerly with schizophrenia, and their therapists, Mackler spotlights the vast gulf between negative public perception and informed and hopeful reality. The fiction: schizophrenia is a chronic, debilitating disease which destines sufferers to a pitiful, pathetic existence sustained only by the lifelong ingestion of powerful psychotropic medications. The fact: While one third of those with schizophrenia may diminish over time, two thirds improve. One third improve to a high degree of functionality and enjoy full lives, while the other third—get this—achieve full recoveries so complete as no longer to need or use medications!
To ice the cake, Mackler interviews Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, who cites studies by unimpeachable sources like the National Institute of Mental Health and the World Health Organization. The NIHM studies proves, Whitaker attests, the actual detriments of long-term antipsychotic medication use, while the WHO study ironically found that the prognosis for schizophrenia recovery is actually worse in developed countries where such medications are more available.
Why don’t we know these facts? Clearly blame rests with a system motivated by profits and skewed to favor pharmaceutical companies. But also a factor is our advance society’s askance notion about individuals with severe mental illness. Catherine Penney described the ideal as she described the “I-Thou” relationship she developed with her gifted psychotherapist, Dr. Daniel Dorman. When asked to explain the significance of I-Thou, Penney responded by describing how most people view their relationships with those with psychiatric disabilities, as “I-It”.
Produced in 2008, Take These Broken Wings is Mackler’s first documentary. While as a first effort sometimes seeming a little long and edited with too staccato a cutting style, Take These Broken Wings is a must-view for family members navigating the maelstrom of mental illness. It introduces family members to very important considerations. It acquaints them with significant figures in the field such as Dr. Peter Breggin and author Robert Whiaker. It helps family members to see the larger possibilities, to harbor hope for what at the beginning might seem impossible, namely, a full recovery for their loved one. Take These Broken Wings is the work of a passionate and sympathetic advocate for those with severe mental illness who personally understands the trauma at the root of much of mental illness, and through his work can guide family members to more holistic and comprehensive solutions.
Connect to Take These Broken Wings at Daniel Mackler’s blog at http://www.iraresoul.com/dvd1.html.