“There is no reason to be scared of me”: Annual Frese Lecture Shares Voices of Students with Psychosis
When she was younger, Cecelia McGough wouldn’t talk about her hallucinations or other psychosis-like symptoms.
“People would often look at me in fear,” she shared during the 2022 Drs. Fred and Penny Frese Lecture, delivered via Zoom May 24. “But I want everyone to know that we all see, hear and feel things that aren’t there when we’re dreaming. There is no reason to be scared of me.”
McGough is founder and executive director of Students With Psychosis, a nonprofit organization linking college-aged individuals with psychosis with peers. She presented “Community-Building and Collaboration Among Students With Psychosis” with members of the SWP team, including Dominique, internship coordinator, Allison Antcliff, student leader coordinator, Laura Kordowski, executive board member, Emeka Chima, secretary, executive board member, and Rei, executive board member. [Editor’s note: Some participants preferred to give first names only, due to sensitivities around the topic of psychosis.]
During the Frese lecture, McGough discussed her experience facing stigma even within her own family.
Team member Antcliff shared her perspective on managing her psychosis: “In many therapy sessions, I have been asked if I ever want to be symptom-free of my psychosis, a question that wounds me to the core. I view my disorder as a part of me that I will never be free from. For me, coping means accepting that my disorders are a part of who I am. Atypical schizophrenia, depression, fibromyalgia. They’re all just as much a part of me as my creativity, my bravery and my ability to love.”
The Drs. Fred and Penny Frese Lecture series honors the late Fred Frese, Ph.D., and Penny Frese, Ph.D., by sharing stories of individuals living successfully with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses and the ways in which their loved ones support their recovery. Peg’s Foundation and the NEOMED College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry Coordinating Centers of Excellence sponsor this lecture annually.