National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

NAMI’s History: PBS Documentary

NAMI’s story is told inWhen Medicine Got It Wrong, a moving documentary shown on many PBS stations nationwide.

The film shows the origins of the dramatic grassroots movement that resulted in NAMI’s founding in 1979 and helped revolutionize treatment.

In the 1970s parents got sick and tired of being blamed for causing their adult children’s mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. Many psychiatrists and medical school textbooks perpetuated the myth of the “schizophrenogenic mother,” which identified “bad parenting” as the “cause” mental illness. Today, mental disorders are understood to be medical conditions involving genetics, biology—including neurochemical activity in the brain—and environmental factors.

As a tribute to the overthrow of the myth of the “schizophrenogenic mother,” many PBS stations have chosen to schedule the documentary around Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010.

Other stations will air it on other occasions, including Mental Illness Awareness Week in October. It will remain available for programming in future years as well.