screen-shot-2014-06-10-at-12-14-04-pmWe really don’t know what goes on in the mind of someone who suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression unless we face mental illness ourselves. And it’s definitely not a topic we generally talk about, especially within the Black community.

Journalist Anderson Cooper hoped to understand mental illness by taking part in an “exercise in empathy,” where he wore a simulator that replicated the symptoms of a schizophrenic while he worked in the office and walked the streets of NYC for one day.

The constant voices in his earpiece ranged from quiet hisses and whispers to aggressive screams. At times, Cooper says he wants to yell back because he can’t concentrate. He also says the voices made him feel isolated from those around him.

Anderson describes schizophrenia – based on his experience from the simulator – as having a chorus watching and commenting on every little thing that you do. Below is a sample from the simulator:

Of course, this was only an experiment and Cooper could turn off the voices whenever he wanted. But psychologist and schizophrenia activist Eleanor Longden lives with it daily. Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a college freshman, hospitalized, and heavily medicated, Longden also describes helplessness and alienation from those who couldn’t and wouldn’t understand her condition.

She discusses her diagnosis during her “Voices in my Head” TED Talk.


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  • Mike C

    Cooper determined that the voices in his head during this experiment was still better than being gay. It was less of a dickstraction.

    • Kwazi Style


  • Jetty

    Wow… I can barely deal for the three minutes…. I could only imagine how terrible this is if you can remember before the voices or if you just feel like your normal self with all this around you and nobody gets it….

    This was so helpful and has made me so much more empathetic!

    Great Posts … Can we find a way to spread this around the community….

  • Michelle

    I have a brother who was diagnosed as shizophrenic, when he was fifteen. He’s thirty-four now and it has been a long road. With his occasional “breaks” and the “trial and errors” with his meds…
    Interacting with him now is like speaking with a different person.

  • Casasanta

    I really hope that some day some brilliant black doctor will come up with a cure for these mental malfunctions!!!!!