It was a Saturday.
Pleasantly warm outside.
On such days, people should be skipping stones across tranquil ponds.
Or playing frisbee with panting dogs in freshly mowed fields.
Or driving through mountain passes with windows down and music loud.
I was doing none of those things.
I was in my windowless office, my face affixed to my laptop.
I had 30 minutes to finish 87 emails before my wife started regretting “I do.”
I opened the first email: Mr. _______ had been a resident of our shelter a year ago.
In addition to me, Mr. _______ had emailed:
- A dozen State Department employees
- The embassies of Ethiopia, Lebanon, Belize, Jamaica and Austria.
- Time Magazine
- Jim Cramer from “Mad Money” on CNBC
- The local library
- A few hundred other people that I can’t list here without getting a visit from the FBI.
The email was 50 or 60 paragraphs long and included the following. I have not edited it (except to remove his name):
Should Mr. _______ be arrested, detained and/or pronounced MENTALLY INSANE in an effort to assist the National Security of the United States of America etc., EACH embassy, world leader, and President receiving this COMMUNICATION (COVENANT) has a God given right/authority, solidified by Mr. _______’s authority as a Son of God and a WITNESS in this hour, to release knowledge of said COMMUNICATION (COVENANT) and/or contents of this COMMUNICATION (COVENANT) as a WITNESS, whether on the side of Satan/the Antichrist or on the side of Jesus Christ as that of a Son of God.
Mr. _______ suffers from severe mental illness.
He doesn’t know it, though, because he also suffers from “anosognosia.”
Anosognosia is the term for when someone is unaware of their own mental health condition.
It is not “denial.”
It is not “pretending.”
It is not a “choice.”
It is neuroscience.
According to MRIs, there is less activation of the posterior cingulate cortex (the part of the brain responsible for self-reflection).
It is very common.
50-90% of patients with schizophrenia and 40% with bipolar disorder show a “severe” lack of insight into their illness.
It also increases a person’s risk of becoming homeless. If you work with individuals suffering from severe mental illness, you need to understand anosognosia.