Diagnosis is not destiny: Joe Holt

In 2008 I attended a very powerful Spring Conference at the Bowen Center for the Study of the  Family in Georgetown entitled “Schizophrenia: Diagnosis is not destiny”where I heard two very interesting people talk about their recoveries from schizophrenia. One of those people, Lonnie Joe Holt, LCMFT, was featured in an article in the New York Times by Benedict Carey recently.


There is a NY Times video interview, here.

I was impressed by Mr. Holt’s strategies to deal with the voices on the job, and how he is able to thrive in his work, despite the stigma attached with the diagnosis of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. In my previous posts, I have written about the need to have a more inclusive workforce, and I am pleased that Mr. Holt’s employers and teachers have been (apparently) open to working with him.

Does anyone have any other stories about dealing with employers to accommodate voices or other non-normative experiences? Do you think it is best to keep such experiences secret in the workplace? Or is it more effective to break down the stigma and ask for accommodations?

Joe Holt is certainly not the first mental health professional who has publicly disclosed a diagnosis of  schizophrenia. See also Dr. Rufus May, Patricia Deegan, Ron Bassman, Ph.D, Fred Frese, Ph.D. I hope that this will help the public, and other mental health professionals, that there is no such thing as “us” and “them,” that there is only “we”.

(BTW, the other person at the Bowen Center conference who spoke about her personal experience with schizophrenia, was Elyn Saks, but I’ll save that for another blog post.)

Ciao for now,

Jessica Arenella


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1 Response to Diagnosis is not destiny: Joe Holt

  1. margaretotto says:

    I too was at the conference sponsored by the Bowen Center on Schizophrenia. I also had the privledge of hearing Michael Kerr, MD interview Joe Holt for the Heartland Conference on Schizophrenia which was sponsored by the KC Center for Family Systems in January 2007. The idea that all illnesses can go into remission does not seem popular but appears factual. Perhaps Bowen theory can lend a hand to some…

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