1. I had a pretty bad time when I was an undergraduate at Cornell University. I failed out of school. I was much, much heavier. I was doing very poorly, certainly academically, but even mentally…I’ve never been institutionalized, [but] it doesn’t mean I haven’t had brushes with real psychological problems — I just was never hospitalized for it.

    And I managed to graduate after working pretty hard through some summer courses, but at the end of that time, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go because I was just a mess in every way. I had destroyed myself, is the truth of it…I had tried to do myself in in various ways and then to my utter surprise, some people who were close to me suggested that maybe I talk to someone, I get a little help, and I found some people who helped me out…they did a lot for me, they helped me psychologically and quite frankly, even just to feel like you [I] can do this thing you [I] want to do, which was write, and I wasn’t really believing I could do that either.

    — Victor LaValle on his own mental health

  2. Victor LaValle

    mental health

    The Devil in Silver

    Fresh Air

  1. Currently in the legal system there’s this myth of equality. And the assumption is if you are over 18 and you have an IQ of over 70 then all brains are created equal. And, of course, that’s a very charitable idea but it’s demonstrably false. Brains are extraordinarily different from one another. Brains are essentially like fingerprints; we’ve all got them but they’re somewhat different. And so by imagining that everyone has the exact same capacity for decision-making, for understanding future consequences, for squelching their impulsive behavior and so on, what we’re doing is we’re imagining that everybody should be treated the same. And, of course, what has happened is that our prison system has become our de facto mental health care system. Estimates are that about 30 percent of the prison population has some sort of mental illness.

    — neuroscientist David Eagleman, author of Incognito

  2. David Eagleman

    mental health

    criminal justice