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Giving Thanks

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The Treatment Advocacy Center wishes you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving we wanted to express our appreciation for all Dr. E. Fuller Torrey does to inspire all of us and make our mission possible.

What follows is a tribute from one of the Treatment Advocacy Center board members, DJ Jaffe.

Dr. Torrey is a hero to the mentally ill. And to me.

I am old enough not to have heroes. But I have one. And I am not alone:

Here's what else you should know about this hero.

Dr. Torrey could have spent his life making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing couch therapy on the Upper West Side for the rich and worried, but instead joined the Peace Corps and then the Public Health Service, spending most of his time serving the poorest of the poor: the seriously mentally ill in the back wards of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC. His pro-bono work with the homeless mentally ill continues to this day.

Dr. Torrey has a sister with schizophrenia. And when he was growing up, schizophrenia was 'known' to be caused by 'bad' mothering. Well, Dr. Torrey had the same mother as his sister and he liked her. And he didn't have schizophrenia. So how could 'bad' mothering cause schizophrenia? He knew it couldn't and that set him off on a lifelong crusade to find a cure.

He bucked every convention in the pursuit of truth, attracting thousands of members to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the process.

In the effort to find what ailed his sister, Dr. Torrey dedicated his life to the science of mental illness. His study of the genetics, virology, and demographics of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders have brought us that much closer to a cure.

His groundbreaking research has been reported at worldwide scientific conferences and in hundreds of scholarly scientific articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.

He has made it available to the lay public through books like:

Through the Stanley Medical Research Institute (and the wonderful philanthropists who created it) he has helped distribute over $300 million to researchers and created a brain bank that provides researchers perfectly preserved brain tissue of individuals with schizophrenia free of charge.

It is undeniable that Dr. Torrey has been and remains the world's most influential schizophrenia and mental illness researcher.

But Dr. Torrey has also worked tirelessly to get this research incorporated in public policy, through very specific recommendations in books and reports like:

He even founded the Treatment Advocacy Center, in Arlington, VA which has written a Model Law to help states bring their involuntary commitment laws into alignment with the state of the art in scientific research. Many states have adopted parts of this model law.

He has become a mentor to hundreds of researchers and advocates whose work to find a cure and improve the system will continue long after Dr. Torrey's own work stops.  And this mentorship of others, I believe, could be his greatest contribution of all.  He has taught us to hold a mirror up to the system, to confront the misdeeds of public officials consistently and credibly. He has taught us not to fear. To go where the evidence takes us.

I didn't intend for this to be a litany of Dr. Torrey's accomplishments. Or a eulogy. Dr. Torrey is still healthy, working seven days a week on research, books, op-eds, serving on the boards of the Treatment Advocacy Center and Stanley Medical Research Institute and mentoring others. His dedication to research remains fierce and productive.

Dr. Torrey: you're my hero.

 

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