Mysteries of Mental Illnesses

(Rochester, NY) — Explore the evolution in understanding the dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the difficult questions surrounding mental illness that people have grappled with throughout history: What causes it? And how is it best treated? Mysteries of Mental Illness, a four-part series, airs Tuesday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 9 p.m. on WXXI TV. 

In this new series, the diverse profiles of people with mental illnesses serve as personal and educational examples. One such example in the first episode is the champion boxer Virginia "Ginny" Fuchs living with severe OCD. Her obsessive thoughts center around a fear of contamination. Her cleaning rituals take several hours every day and she often spends hundreds of dollars on cleaning supplies. “It makes the world feel like everything is falling down. … I use, like, eight to twelve toothbrushes in one session.”  

Mysteries of Mental Illness episodes are scheduled as follows: 

Evil or Illness (Tuesday, June 22 at 9 p.m.) 
Examine ancient conceptions of mental illness and the establishment of psychiatry. Hear contemporary stories of people living with mental illness, including an aspiring astrophysicist with schizophrenia, and an Olympics-bound boxer with OCD.  

Who’s Normal? (Tuesday, June 22 at 10 p.m.
Trace efforts to develop guidelines for diagnosing mental illness rooted in empirical science rather than dogma. Explore how science and societal factors are deeply entwined with ever-shifting definitions of mental health and mental illness. 

Rise and Fall of the Asylum (Wednesday, June 23 at 9 p.m.)
Follow the origin and downfall of mental asylums in the United States. Glimpse inside Cook County prison, the nation’s largest unintended mental health facility, meet the detainees in their care, and the challenges they face both inside and out.

The New Frontiers (Wednesday, June 23 at 10 p.m.)
Explore today’s most cutting-edge treatments, based on the latest understanding of mental illness, through profiles of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery, infusions of ketamine and modern electro-convulsive therapy.

Photo: Members of Students with Psychosis walk the runway holding protest signs at their annual fundraising gala in March of 2020
Credit: Courtesy of Pangloss Films

Members of Students with Psychosis with protest signs at their fundraising gala


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WXXI Media Contact:

Kristin Tutino

Creative Services Department



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