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Schizophrenia's Most Zealous Foe - Dr. E. Fuller Torrey
An excerpt from a story by Michael Winerip, New York Sunday Times, February 22, 1998
"We won't be getting any brains in the mail today, " the nation's
best-known schizophrenia researcher says as he hurries to a meeting at
his Washington laboratory. "They don't mail them over
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a psychiatrist, has had many grand passions during his three-decade crusade to cure schizophrenia, but none greater than his new human brain bank.
For years, a major obstacle for scientists researching the neurological roots of serious mental illnesses -- schizophrenia, manic depression, depression -- has been the lack of first-rate human brains to study. "The only schizophrenic brains available have been very old and not in very good shape, " Torrey says. They came from state hospitals and nursing homes, from patients so elderly that by the time they died the brain had atrophied. "We wanted to be in position to get better brains, brains of people younger and not dead long. " Brains that would be full of unaltered proteins and neurotransmitters, viruses and cytokines that might hold the answers to schizophrenia's cause.
As has so often happened when Torrey needed something done that no one else would do, he did it himself. "He'll talk about it, " says Ted Stanley, the philanthropist who has financed the brain bank, "then suddenly, he's done it. " In the 1970's, while others were complaining that the seriously mentally ill had no lobbying group, Torrey helped build the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill into a powerful political force that now has 170,000 members. When a literary agent couldn't find a publisher for Torrey's books, Torrey served as his own agent. (His "Surviving Schizophrenia, " published in 1983, has sold 250,000 copies; his biography of Ezra Pound, "The Roots of Treason, " was a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle award that same year.)
And when, in the mid-1980's, he was too outspoken for the psychiatry establishment and was demoted from his supervisory post at the National Institute of Mental Health, Torrey quit and became an independent researcher. Today he runs the mental health branch of a private foundation, which gives out so much research money that it rivals the Federal Government. Scientists from all over seek out the onetime renegade, requesting research funds. "It is amazing, " Torrey says. For the first time, he has all the money he needs to chase his dream. In recent months, the 60-year-old Torrey has cut back his speaking engagements and his advocacy work to devote himself to searching for a cure for schizophrenia. "I think we can do it in the next 5 to 10 years, " he says. "If we do, I'll die happy. "
How to Thank Dr. Torrey (from DJ Jaffe):
Fuller frequently tells people who want to help that they
People who want to thank the Stanley's for funding Fuller's research
To learn more about the Stanley foundation go to:
How to Help:
Please encourage your local mental health experts and doctors and
My understanding is that the Stanley Foundation and Dr. Torrey are already