Unbreakable Minds

Every child is born full of promise, ready to go forth into the world and meet his or her destiny. But for those diagnosed with schizophrenia in the prime of their lives, independence, acceptance, and even a place to call home usually slips beyond their grasp.

Over three years, film-makers Abbey Jack Neidik and Irene Lilienheim Angelico followed three engaging young men living with mental illness.

Unbreakable Minds captures the emotional journeys as they struggle with their inner demons and try to find their own place in a world that regards them with fear and hostility. With exceptional intimacy and honesty, these men speak about their darkest days and brightest triumphs, and take us with them to catch a vivid glimpse of what they go through and to experience schizophrenia from the inside out.

Through their heroic examples, they also offer a challenge to society to smash this last taboo.

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  1. I’m schizophrenic and this has been a real buzz for me !!!!!!!!!!! in Ireland ,,,,,long live their successes and be their moments of doubt about the pills be rational!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. “Madness is a bitter mercy,but a mercy nontheless”(Sheogorath) – it’s hard to understand the mind of a rational normal person,but it’s almost imposible to understand the mind of someone with mental pathology.There are stereotypes that the media has promoted about mental pacients…i.e. not all schizophrenics are blood thirsty psychopathic killers(I’m not)…we just see the world different.. but we can all lead productive lives..even society doesn’t need us…we can do and follow every career we want..we are all HUMANS!I’m a medical student…it’s hard coping with paranoia and other symptoms…but we can do it..Van Gough was a schizophrenic,John Nash was and many others…learn before you judge. Peace!

  3. I don’t like the word ‘schizophrenia’ It means the wrong thing and is about 20 different illnesses anyway, plus It brings out the stigma in people. I really think there should be a new word for it, like they’ve done in Japan.
    Also, every single person reacts differently to every anti-psychotic, if one didn’t work for you doesn’t mean it won’t save another’s life. And until you’ve tried them all you’ll never know.

    • i disagree entirely with the somantic game of tag people play. If a word comes to have negative connotations then changing that word to something else only allows for the same thing to happen again and only serves to reinforce the petty behaviour that caused it. We cant just change every “bad” word every few years, thats ridiculous and impractical, people arn’t ‘fat’ anymore, they’re ‘overweight’, people aren’t ‘retarded’ they are ‘mentally challenged’ and people aren’t ‘disabled’ they are ‘differently abled’.

      Well guess what world, a rose by any other name, would smell just as sweet..

      • Years late, but what the hell. I wanted to point out that a big problem is that some of those “bad” words are used as slurs and insults, while using a word that describes the same characteristic but is deliberately neutral is a way to say that you’re accepting that characteristic with similar neutrality – not looking down on someone or attacking them.

        It’s like the way the word “negro” became a terrible insult to someone with skin a dark colour, so people used “black” instead to describe their skin colour without prejudice – that in effect, having “black” skin colour is as valid as having “white” skin colour.

        Sometimes changing a word is just a case of avoiding the inherent cultural overlay, trying to avoid having to deal with the issues attached with the word. In that case, yes, it can be ridiculous or even problematic to change it. But in other cases, you need to use a different word exactly because of the cultural overlay. E.g. You use “mentally challenged” instead of “retarded” because using “retarded” was a way to look down on people with this medical condition.

        A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but language and communication is all about words and the different ideas and connotations each word conveys.

    • I can’t agree with you more. The very word is what makes it so hard for a place like WilPower to get their group home established.

  4. As someone with mental illness who has very understanding parents, it makes me sad to see how Hank treats/thinks about his son. That grandmother seems like such a wonderful, loving person though.

  5. We need to get that piano tuned

  6. Very fine piece of documentary, showing the ups- and downs every-day life of people with mental illness, and how they, with help from their friends , family and loved ones cope and live with that, and how important an organisation as Wilpower is.
    Where I live we have an organisation called Fountainhouse, and I am proud to say that I have visited both the house in Copenhagen and in Malmoe, sweden, which I believe helps in similar ways.

    Let´s make room for us all, people!

  7. A very good piece of work.

  8. This doc was very interesting and enjoyable because it showed typical moments in the lives of 4 people living with their mental illnesses, without drama and shock for the purpose of entertainment.
    The families of the subjects did care very deeply for them.
    Wilpower was an incredible compassionate, understanding and intelligent organization. I wonder who funded it (surely not the government).
    The meds these subjects are railroaded into taking are devastating. Someone is making lots of money off them but they are destroying the subjects’ bodies and souls.
    I really noticed how some of these subjects would speak so slowly, slurring and using strange gestures.
    Of course they said “off the wall” things; who wouldn’t on that s–t!?
    Why make them take this stuff unless they ASK for it?
    Yes, these individuals matured into strange and “different” people when their “illness” struck, but society and families keep pushing their idea of “normal” at them, and feel uncomfortable at their behaviours.
    I really liked Randy’s mom, by the way. He’s so lucky to have her.
    That’s society’s problem; trying to force people with this disease into acting “normal”.
    They are who they are, and unless a voice is telling them to harm someone or themselves; they should be left in peace to make their own way in this world.
    (just my opinion).
    Stop treating them like freaks and children who don’t know what’s “good for them”.

    • As someone on the autism spectrum I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you for saying that. You can’t force someone to be ‘normal’ and expect them to be at peace with themselves. It is also wrong to believe that people will only be happy doing what ‘normal’ people enjoy doing or having the kind of life that a ‘normal’ person desires. As long as a person is not harmful to themselves or others they should be allowed to be who they are. That’s the only way they will be able to have a meaningful life.

  9. And… NO psychologists or psychiatrists, they will just pump you full of drugs and make you worse. DO NOT TRUST DOCTORS, they have no idea what its like to be mentally ill. They get their info from text books and get paid to dispense drugs & make dignoses.

    • Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.

    • Sorry Dave78, you sound just a little bit paranoid.

      • I agree, Dave does, but what he’s saying is kinda true – luckily my own doctor has expressed that exact thing to me – he was open and kind enough to tell me stories about former patients that my MD just couldn’t possibly understand.

        I fully appreciate a doctor who knows and understands and SHARES his limitations.

  10. Firstly, I took anti-psychotic drugs (zyprexa) for 9 years for a neurological disorder and they almost killed me. Great for a short time, very very bad for a long time. The effects WILL wear off after around 6 years, they will make your child feel HORRIBLE, sleep 16+ hours per day. When you come off them, you are worse than when you started. They will also make you very angry.

    If you have a mentally ill child, do the following for 1 year as a test:

    – NO DRUGS!!!!

    – Don’t try and understand your child, you never will

    – Don’t tell your child what they need or should try, they will just hate you more

    – Buy or rent a house in the middle of the country for you child, far from anywhere, on 20 acres or more.

    – Let them live there alone (WITHOUT PARENTS)

    – Buy them a dog, dogs are the best companions for mentally ill people.

    – Parents are the most frustrating thing in a mentally ill persons life

    – Do not give your child a TV, Computer or any electronic devices except a mobile phone. NOT an Iphone, a simple phone without internet etc.

    – Supply your child with 3 months of food at a time, as well as water, firewood, tools, an axe, rope, fire lighting equipment.

    – Your child will now live away from society alone.

    – Sunlight, fresh natural food, and water only to drink are the only things a mentally ill person need.

    – Away from society, your child will feel normal, learn to survive by him/herself, chop wood, grow plants to eat, grow healthy.

    – The worst thing in the world for mentally ill people is SOCIETY!

    • Horrible advice. The severely mentally ill need social interaction and empathy. They need medication and ongoing therapy. Most cannot function by themselves without someone supervising their behavior and progress. Society is not the only culprit. Genetics are strongly at fault. Irregular brain development and function have been proven with MRI scans. It is not something to take lightly.

    • Stark and prurient advice. Excellent. Thank you. Many would argue “NO! They should be mainstreamed, why should they be shunned!!??”

      If your child is that sick, your advice is perfect.

  11. ugh. these parents are so dismissive of their sons. i guess you can say something for their patience but.. yeesh. that first interview shot of randy and his father when he talks to the interviewer like randys not even in the room…
    at least TRY to empathize.

    • His mother says it best: “I don’t think he’s ashamed of Randy, he’s ashamed of what’s happened to him.”

      I can’t imagine what Randy’s father has been through for the past 20+ years.

  12. Drugs are not the answer. Our diets, our thoughts, our environment, the balance of our bodies and mind.. these are the answers to mental or physical disturbances. We must help each other and help the world around us. Positivity and Love can conquer all.

    • you’re actually wrong. love can’t conquer something as serious as schizophrenia. prescribed drugs do help, and you shouldn’t be against them.

    • the future is right love,diet,understanding and compassion.we have become so ready to run to the drug store for every little thing.ever stop to think that this might be the cause of some of the problems? not all of them im sure,but lets try to help each other.the drug companies have gotten rich of of our suffering,enough is enough. time for the fat cats to go on a diet of their own,im just sayin.

    • Namastee’ beautifully put.
      May all beings be happy
      and free from suffering

    • Trisha is correct.

    • Schizophrenia is a biologically based mental illness. It is not as easy to rectify with diet and a holistic approach. as much as I would like to share your optimism, that simply isn’t the case.

  13. This is a wonderful, scary, heart-warming story. I hope they all continue to do well and that advances can be made in treatment. I know how treatment (drugs) can be a trade-off. I wouldn’t want to go without my meds right now, but I have side-effects.

    Let there be a future without trade-offs!