Jason Russell suffers from psychosis, new diagnosis, wife says
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The director of a wildly popular video about brutal African warlord Joseph Kony has been diagnosed with brief reactive psychosis and is expected to stay in the hospital for weeks, his wife said Wednesday.
Jason Russell, 33, was hospitalized last week in San Diego after witnesses saw him running through streets in his underwear, screaming incoherently and banging his fists on the pavement. His outburst came after the video's sudden success on the Internet brought heightened scrutiny to Invisible Children, the group he co-founded in 2005 to fight African war atrocities.
"The preliminary diagnosis he received is called brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration," Danica Russell said. "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. Even for us, it's hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention — both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days."
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.
Danica Russell said it may be months before her husband returns to San Diego-based Invisible Children.
"Jason will get better. He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery," she said.
Russell narrates the 30-minute video "Kony 2012," which has been viewed more than 84 million times on YouTube since it was released this month. In the video, Russell talks to his young son, Gavin, about Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.
The group has been criticized for not spending enough directly on the people it intends to help and for oversimplifying the 26-year-old conflict involving the LRA and its leader, Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Invisible Children has acknowledged the video overlooked many nuances but said it was a "first entry point" that puts the conflict "in an easily understandable format." It said money that directly benefits the cause accounted for more than 80 percent of its spending from 2007 to 2011.
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