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Jason Russell, 'Kony 2012' Creator, Suffered From 'Reactive Psychosis,' Family Claims

Posted: 03/21/2012 1:27 pm Updated: 03/22/2012 9:42 am

The family of Jason Russell, the creator of the "Kony 2012" viral video and a co-founder of the advocacy group Invisible Children, said that "brief reactive psychosis" brought on his public meltdown on a San Diego street corner last week.

"The preliminary diagnosis he received is called brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by the extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration," the statement reads. "Though new to us, the doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks."

Danica Russell, the wife of 33-year-old Jason Russell, issued the statement -- posted to Invisible Children's blog on Tuesday morning -- on behalf of the family. It says that Russell will remain hospitalized "for a number of weeks" and that "the recovery process could take months before he is fully able to step back into his role with Invisible Children."

From the Associated Press:

The condition is triggered by extreme stress. Symptoms include hallucinations and strange speech and behavior. Antipsychotic drugs and talk therapy can alleviate symptoms and people typically get better within a month.

Called "the most viral video of all time" by ReadWriteWeb, "Kony 2012" received over 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo in just four weeks.

After an initial wave of support for the campaign that highlighted abuses committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army, the organization was criticized for its spending practices, funding sources and for oversimplifying a complex issue, among other things.

The video also prompted outrage last week in Uganda when it was shown at a public screening.

The statement from Russell's family also emphasized that the "incident was in no way the result of drugs or alcohol."

TMZ reported on Friday that Russell was "under the influence of some kind of substance," but Lt. Andra Brown, a San Diego Police Department spokeswoman, refuted that claim.

"If we thought he was under the influence, we wouldn’t have taken him to a hospital; we would have taken him to jail," Brown said, according to The New York Times.

"Jason will get better," the statement reads. "He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery."

For more on brief reactive psychosis, click over to HuffPost Healthy Living.

WARNING: Video contains explicit material:

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  • Self-proclaimed mystic Kony began one of a series of initially popular uprisings in northern Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986. But tactics of abducting recruits and killing civilians alienated supporters.

  • The LRA is infamous for kidnapping children for use as soldiers, porters and "wives". Although there are no universally accepted figures, the children are believed to number many thousands. Some are freed after days, others never escape. <br> <em>Trauma counselor Florence Lakor, right, listens to 16-year-old Julius, as he tells of the two years he was forced by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to live as a guerrilla fighter in Sudan and Uganda. (AP)</em>

  • Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 21-year war. A landmark truce was signed in August 2006 and was later renewed. But negotiations brokered by south Sudanese mediators have frequently stalled.

  • The cessation of hostilities has been largely respected, but the guerrilla group has said it will never sign a final peace deal unless the International Criminal Court drops indictments against its leaders for atrocities. <br> <em>Uganda's Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, right, and the head of the government peace talk delegation exchanges documents with the leader of the Lords Resistance Army peace talks delegation Martin Ojul, left, after signing a ceasefire agreement at State House in Kampala, Uganda, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP)</em>

  • Kony's force was once supported by the Khartoum government as a proxy militia, although Sudan says it has now cut ties with the LRA. Kony left his hideouts in south Sudan in 2005 for the Democratic Republic of Congo's remote Garamba forest. <br> <em>Map shows areas in Africa where the Lord's Resistance Army has had a known presence in the past year. (AP)</em>

  • Many northerners revile Kony for his group's atrocities, but also blame Museveni for setting up camps for nearly 2 million people as part of his counter-insurgency strategy, fuelling one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. <br> <em>Internally displaced people line up to receive food provided by the World Food Programe, Thursday, June 15, 2006 at the Pabbo camp outside Gulu, northern Uganda. (AP)</em>

  • Kony has said he is fighting to defend the Biblical Ten Commandments, although his group has also articulated a range of northern grievances, from the looting of cattle by Museveni's troops to demands for a greater share of political power. <br> <em>Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, second right, and his deputy Vincent Otti, right, are seen during a meeting with a delegation of Ugandan officials and lawmakers and representatives from non-governmental organizations, Monday, July 31, 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Sudanese border. (AP)</em>


Filed by Timothy Stenovec  |