A Friendship Forged On The Frontiers Of Schizophrenia

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Photo: Roberta Payne, Dr. Robert Freedman
Roberta Payne and Dr. Robert Freedman at the CPR studios on Monday, March 28, 2016.

Retired professor Roberta Payne of Denver first suspected she had schizophrenia when she was perusing the Tattered Cover Bookstore in 1985.

She came across a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which doctors use to categorize mental illness. There she found a description of paranoid schizophrenia that fit her persistent delusion: that alien beings controlled her mind.

"It was like all of the sudden you find your birth parents or something," she said. "You just know: this is who I am."

Years later, she'd meet Dr. Robert Freedman, an award-winning schizophrenia researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and chair of psychiatry. They formed a friendship on the frontiers of schizophrenia, trading perspective on the disease. Payne chronicled that journey in her book, Speaking To My Madness: How I Searched For Myself In Schizophrenia.

Both Dr. Freedman and Payne spoke to Colorado Matter's Ryan Warner about the latest developments in schizophrenia research and the decades they've spent trying to understand the disease.