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Erica Jong

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Guns and Madness

Posted: 01/17/11 09:43 AM ET

So sad that the corporate media does not know what paranoid schizophrenic thinking is. I know because my college boyfriend and 1st husband had a paranoid schizophrenic breakdown.

He thought his brain was controlled by a giant computer run by the government. He thought he could fly off the roofs of buildings. He thought he could walk on water. Fortunately, he did not have a gun -- or I wouldn't be alive today.

I was then in graduate school, doing work in 18th century English Lit. He was working at an exciting new market research firm when he had what was then called "a nervous breakdown." He tried to convince me to fly out the window with him. He was in a rage about government conspiracies. He believed that U.S. computers were controlling his mind. He believed he was Christ returned to earth for the apocalypse. I took him to the ER where the doctors confirmed that he was out of touch with reality.

My first love was treated with anti-psychotic drugs and later, much later, was able to have a fairly normal life -- if he stayed on his medications. His story is not a tragedy like Jared Loughner's.

It is probably the combination of guns and schizophrenia that made Jared Loughner a tragic case and saw so many innocents killed. We might ask why madmen are left untreated, why they can easily buy guns, why they are not cared for like the sick people they are. If we had a good health care system, if we had common sense gun laws, these people might be alive today. Like me.